Stage Four of the Tour Of Korea was abandoned due to rain.
copyright Tour de Korea/Aaron Lee
The rest of the stages went as follows:
Stage victor Chan Jae Jang in race lead after sprint goes bad
A cruel finale blunted the lingering suspense of a stage-long escapade by two riders in today’s third Tour de Korea stage. Not only were 2011 Tour de Korea points jersey winner, Paul Odlin (Subway Cycling Team), and 2009 British Road Cycling Champion, Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp), unable to hold off their pursuants until the finish, a controversial final sprint by Team Type 1 – Sanofi’s Alexander Serebrayakov sucked all attention away from the hard-fighting pair’s efforts. Following several minutes of official deliberation, Serebrayakov was relegated to the back of the 76-strong lead group, handing stage runner-up Chan Jae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team) his second Tour de Korea win in two years. On overall time, Jang moved into the leader’s jersey and now holds a slim five second margin over Alexander Candelario (Team Optumpresented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), with third-placed David McCann (RTS Racing) a further four seconds in arrears.
Just as birds fly south to warmer climates, so too did the 119 riders lining up for today’s 135.6km stage from Gwangju to Yeosu; the race’s southernmost point. Reassuringly, the forecasted fine conditions transpired, with temperatures hitting 27°C by the finale. Winds of change were also apparent as, against trend, three foreign riders attacked immediately after the stage began. Together with King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong National Team), Odlin and House rode away strongly from the peloton, establishing a 28” lead within the first ten minutes of racing. Cheung suffered a puncture before 20 kilometres was clocked and was subsequently forced to drop back into the peloton. VitaliyPopkov (ISD - Lampre) bravely tried to bridge the gap – which had peaked at 1’30” - but gave up within minutes.
The Kiwi and the Brit ground out a 40kph pace along mostly-flat country roads, though a gentle upward tendency meant the pair reached 200 metres elevation by the end of the first hour of racing. Behind them, Ronald Young (Hong Kong National Team), Jung Hwan Youm (Seoul Cycling Team) and Sunjae Jang (Korea National Team) were closing, eventually bridging to create a five-man group 55 kilometres out of Gwangju.
With no intermediate sprint to concern themselves with, the leaders concentrated on getting to the day’s only KOM – at 280m elevation and 2.9km in length – which began 85.2 kilometres into the sage. A chasing break, consisting of RodrigesArguelyes (Rusvelo), Ki Ho Choi (Hong Kong National Team), Patrick Shaw (Genesys Wealth Advisers), MuradjanHalmuratov (Uzbekistan Suren Team), Ki Hong Yoo (Geumsan Ginseng Cello), Sungbaek Park (KSPO), Sungjun Kang and Keonwoo Park (both of Seoul Cycling team), bore down on the five men, adding a few more complexities and competing interests to the now 13-man group.
Shaw pulled strongly up the climb to mitigate attacks and ensure the group could take advantage of their collective strength once over and off the summit. By the time Park, Halmuratov, House and Youm had respectively secured their share of the KOM points, the group had fractured; later rejoining after a rapid and technical descent.
With 100 kilometers covered, the lead group had atrophied to nine men and Choi, Yeung, Odlin, House, Shaw, Park, Youm, Halmuratovand Jang held a stable gap of 1’30” on the peloton, which they held for another 20 kilometres; giving onlookers every impression they could stay away.
After three hours of racing, and inside 20 kilometres to go, riders from Team Optum and Team Nippobegan urging the peloton forward. Together with a deterioration of co-operation within the lead group, the time gap began to tumble quickly; halving to 40” with 10 kilometres remaining. Believing they had a better chance to stay away as part of a smaller group, both House and Shaw attacked only to be pulled back by their breakaway companions who, in turn, refused to work at the front.
This lack of cohesion was no match for the efficient main field and all riders were together again with only six kilometres left to race. Sensing a lull in speed, Shaw immediately countered with a solo flyer that took him inside five kilometres to go before his legs could outpace the men behind no more.
With a 50-metre loss in elevation over the final two kilometres, the bunch scorched along, flaring across the three-laned main road of Yeosu in an angry swarm. Though Serebrayakov appeared to have sufficient speed approaching 200 metres to go, his final deviation to the road’s far right was ruled to impede Jang’s sprint and the Korean was awarded the stage, ahead of Ken Hanson (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) and MaximilianoRicheze (Team Nippo).
“I’m first today because the rider from Team Type 1 is not a good player,” said Jang blunty, after learning of his promotion to first. ”I think in a normal situation, I would have more speed (than Serebrayakov). This year in Tour de Korea I want to go for the general classification. Today I’m a stage winner, but I want to be at the top by the final stage.
All of my team have been great. They helped me get KOM points yesterday, and today they were amazing. Tomorrow could be a very difficult race because it will be raining and very cold. I think tomorrow could decide the overall winner.”
After stage three, the classification leaders are:
Yellow Jersey (Individual GC): Chan Jae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team)
Blue Jersey (Points Classification): Sun Jae Jang (Korean National Team)
WhiteJersey (Young Rider Classification): Kyoung Ho Park (Seoul Cycling Team)
Polka dot Jersey (King of the Mountains Classification): SungbaekPark (KSPO)
Teams General Classification: Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
pictures (copyright Tour de Korea/Aaron Lee)
Candelario seizes stage and yellow in longest day
Tour de Korea’s longest stage, from Buyeo to Gwangju, may have started under smoke-grey skies, but it ended with two shades of yellow when Alexander Candelario (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) wrestled the leader’s jersey from Mauro Richeze (Team Nippo) in a bunch sprint, moments before the day’s first bright sunshine appeared. Adding insult to Richeze’s injury, the stage’s second- and third-placed riders, David McCann (RTS Racing) and Chanjae Jang (Terengganu Cycling Team), wiped the Argentinean clean from the overall podium.
Mini-skirt wearing dancing girls certainly had the 121 riders in good spirits prior to the rolling 197.7km stage, but the party really got underway at 10:05 local time, when the race left the neutral zone. In a carbon copy of yesterday’s stage, Seoul Cycling Team was again first to send a rider up the road. The peloton immediately picked up the pace, demonstrating that even small attacks would be taken seriously.
Blue jersey wearer Sunjae Jang (Korea National Team) also remained vigilant, given his rival Kiju Lee (KSPO) was only two points adrift in the points classification and the day’s only intermediate sprint came quickly, a mere 56 kilometres into the stage. As it happened, Jang showed great form in besting Cheun Gyo Jeong (Geumsan Ginseng Cello) and Chanjae Jang, while Lee was not in the mix at all.
Shortly after the sprint, the first day’s crash occurred; momentarily taking Ben Dyball (Genesys Wealth Advisers) and Young Lee Ng (Azad University Cross Team) out of the peloton. The two men were able to remount without serious damage and fought their way back into the bunch. 25 kilometres later, a twelve-man breakaway caused further anxiety within the main group, resulting in five different riders - the majority of them local – taking minor spills.
Three hours into the stage, and with 125 kilometres covered, more significant gaps started to appear, with one larger group taking over a minute out of the peloton before being pulled back five kilometres shy of the category four KOM summit. An immediate counter-attack by King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong National team), Farshad Salehian (Azad University Cross Team) and Kyunggu Jang (Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer) provided the impetus Jang needed to power over the 250 meter summit, securing the race’s first polka dot jersey.
With many riders still making their way over the summit, a short and twisty descent further fractured the descending group, eventually culminating in a strong twenty-man break building a 1:25 lead only 30 kilometres from the finish. Amazingly, well-known sprinters Chanjae Jang, Candelario, McCann and Muradjan Halmuratov (Uzbekistan Suren Team) were able to extricate themselves from the break, generating a lead of 40 seconds by the time they reached five kilometres to go.
Having despatched Halmuratov with their pace, the final trio was still 30 seconds clear of the peloton as they negotiated a sharp right hand turn 500 metres from the finish line.
Though McCann made a strong first move, neither he nor Jang were able to resist the Optum rider’s superior form on this day.
“McCann was really strong inside the final kilometre,” explained Candelario, immediately after the stage. ”He hit out, got a small gap and was doing his best to ditch me, because I’m more of a sprinter. He made it pretty hard to get back onto his wheel, but I came around him with 200 metres to go.”
The keen surfer, who was “checking out the coastline before the race” is using Tour de Korea as preparation for the Tour of California next month. “We see a great honour in coming here to race, so we’re taking this event seriously,” Candelario enthused. “We really like the Asian races, because they’re aggressive and all day long there’s attacks and moves going; it’s really hard. The Koreans, especially, treat us well with good accommodation and food.
Asked whether his team would defend the yellow jersey, Candelario pointed to the constraints of a UCI 2.2 race, saying “it’s a long race to ride on the front with only six guys, so I think we’ll look to play a few different cards. I can’t cover every move that goes, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Picture copyright Tour de Korea/Aaron Lee
Mauro Richeze takes first win of Korea
Tour de Korea | Sunday, April 22, 2012 STAGE 1: Incheon - Seoul 52km
Huddled at the start line of today’s first Tour de Korea stage, 121 riders shivered as frigid winds forced whispy rain onto their exposed limbs whilst the countdown to 10:40am ticked slowly by.
Mercifully, the moment came when the group, in front of a small but enthusiastic bevy of cycling fans, was able to put cleat to pedal and slowly roll through the neutral zone on their way to the official race start, 3.2 kilometres away. For some eager – or perhaps, just very cold - riders, the start did not come soon enough, so they rode slightly ahead of the race director’s car attempting to force the pace. Seven long minutes later, the official cars pulled ahead and the closed-off multi-lane motorways began guiding the peloton towards Seoul’s Olympic Park.
Within seconds, Seoul Cycling Team’s Joon Yong Seo launched himself from the bunch, giving viewers of the race – broadcast live in Seoul by KBS News – their first taste of excitement. Seo’s escapade lasted a mere two kilometres before the main group enveloped him. Wet roads and slick road markers seemed to provide no deterrent whatsoever from subsequent attacks, but the speeding peloton refused to yield to individual glory.
Having led a small group of five ahead of the peloton 15 kilometres into the stage, Great Britain’s Kristian House (Rapha Condor-Sharp) didn’t hide his frustration when his breakaway companions collectively fell back, evidently convinced the flat, straight, highway was not the right place for bravado.
By the halfway point of the race, the bunch had settled into an order of sorts, with no single team weighting the front with its numbers. With the day’s first and only sprint ahead (at 36.5km into the race), Sam Horgan (Subway Cycling Team) broke free of the pack, causing minor anxiety amongst the lead riders. RTS Racing’s Martyn Irvine chased after Horgan and the two enjoyed a small taste of freedom before being captured. Jaeyeon Im (Korea National Team) then initiated what appeared to be a set-move for his team; pushing strongly forward from the right-hand side of the bunch, Im positioned himself mid-road whilst a team mate bridged to his wheel. Neat as the move was, it faded to nothing in seconds.
The group began to compact as Joon Yong Seo once again settled himself at the front and riders glanced suspiciously at one another, waiting to see who would pounce at the sprint first. At 500 metres to go, last year’s points winner, Paul Odlin (Subway Cycling Team), showed his cards with a long-range assault. Closing in on the line, Odlin could only watch as Korea’s Sun Jae Jang (Korea National Team) flew past for first place, with Ki Ju Lee (KSPO) and Leonid Krasnov (Jelly Belly Cycling) in second and third, respectively.
With the sprint settled, the next phase of breakaway attempts towards the final prize began with Dong Hyun Shin (KSPO) and King Lok Cheung (Hong Kong National Team) creating the most significant gap of the stage so far. The experienced pair
worked equitably towards the Jamsildaegyo bridge which, at 5km from the stage finish, would steer all riders south over the Han river and into the gleaming metropolis of Gangnam-gu on the other side. Clearly, neither Cheung nor Shin were expecting Yuriy Agarkov (ISD-Lampre Continental team) to join them, but the fresh-looking Ukrainian slotted in to herald the imminent arrival of the chasing bunch.
A sweeping right-hand bend deposited the riders onto the five-lane-wide Jamsil bridge, and the bunch had immediately spread almost its entire width by the end. Though rather benign on any other day, the generous left-hand bend located 1.7 kilometres from the finish seemed to unsettle some riders, with a small mid-pack crash taking out a dozen riders.
Without a team asserting itself in the form of a lead-out train, the square-looking peloton would not readily reveal a contender. It was Jelly Belly’s Charles Huff that appeared first, cutting a wide left-to-right swath through the field with 300 metres to go. With the benefit of a clear line-of-sight and a later start than the American, Mauro Richeze (Team Nippo) narrowly edged out Huff to claim his 2012 first stage win in Asia. Korea’s Seon Ho Park (Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer) took third, followed by fast-finishing Aussie, Aaron Kemps (Champion System Pro Cycling Team) and Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 – Sanofi) of Russia.