The final stage of the Tour of Gaungxi ended in another mass sprint and once again, it was Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep-Floors) who took the victory. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) placed 2nd and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) was 3rd. The big bunch sprint meant Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) had no trouble in defending the overall race lead, to be crowned the 2017 Tour of Gaungxi champion.
The final stage of the Tour of Gaungxi would also be the final race of the 2017 season for most teams, including Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. The 168km route included 2 categorised climbs but the final summit was too far from the finish to make any real difference. A big bunch sprint always seemed to be the obvious conclusion to today’s stage and our African Team was focused on ending the season on a good note with our South African sprinter, Ryan Gibbons.
When the early 3-rider break was caught with 10km to go, the sprint trains started to jostle for position. LottoNL-Jumbo and Quickstep-Floors were once again dominant while our African Team looked to drop Ryan Gibbons off on the best wheel possible leading into the final. A crash inside of 3 km to go strung the peloton out and saw Gibbons being left a bit too far out of position at this point.
Quickstep lit up the final kilometer with a strong leadout and delivered Gaviria to a fine win. Gibbons caught up several places in the final kilometer but in the end, it would be 13th on the line for our South African. In the overall standings though, Mekseb Debesay finished safely in the bunch to hold onto 10th overall, and in doing so became the first Eritrean to finish in the top 10 on GC in a World Tour race.
Mekseb Debesay – Rider
Today was the last stage of Tour of Gaungxi and it had a few mountains but also a strong headwind. Our goal was to keep my GC position and in the final sprint, to help Ryan. We all did our job well and with a good team spirit. I want to thank my team for a very nice week. Everyone did a really good job and I happy with this 10th place in a World Tour race. This is a big result for me but I also know I can do better than this in the future.