Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) won the 4th stage of the Tour of Gaungxi, beating Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) on the uphill finish to Mashan Nongla Scenic Spot.
With today’s 4th stage being the only stage with an uphill finish, it was naturally touted as the Queen stage of the Tour of Gaungxi. While the stage was 151km in length, the final climb was just a short but sharp 3km stretch. As 4 riders found the early break of the day, the teams of the main favourites controlled the gap before easily reeling in the escapees just before the final climb.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was looking after the interests of our Eritrean climber, Mekseb Debesay today. The pace into the final climb was like that of a sprint finish and our African Team did well to drop Debesay off at the base of the climb in a good position. Lachlan Morton and Ryan Gibbons were both in the mix as well as the attacks came immediately upon starting the climb.
Debesay showed he is clearly on some good form and was able to stay with the front runners for the majority of the climb. Wellens, Mollema and Roche were definitely the strongest though as they gaped the rest just before the 1km to go banner. Wellens took the stage win and overall lead while our Eritrean all-rounder, Debesay, came home 20 seconds later and in 9th on the stage.
Mekseb Debesay – Rider
It was a really difficult uphill finish today. My teammates did a great job looking after me all day and keeping me in a good position until the start of the final climb. I am in pretty good shape at the moment and felt good on the climb. There was a lot of attacking on the climb and eventually it was just about going as hard as you could to the finish. At the finish, I was 9th and I am happy with this result against this strong field.