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“I have the level for racing as a pro, that’s nothing new, so I hope that my performances in Hainan will catch the attention of some team managers although I’m aware that it’s a bit late in the recruitment process.&r...

Photo: Sirotti






26.10.2014 @ 14:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A few days after his surprise win from a breaway, Julien Antomarchi (La Pomme Marseille) proved that he is the strongest climber in the Tour of Hainan when he won the queen stage of the race. Back in the overall lead, the Frenchman hopes that his performances will help him earn a new contract.


Already the winner of stage 4, Julien Antomarchi of La Pomme Marseille doubled up in Wuzhishan as he claimed the queen stage ahead of Astana’s Andriy Zeits while Niccolo Bonifazio from Lampre-Merida finished in third place with a deficit of 39 seconds. Antomarchi moved back into the lead with a high chance of winning the ninth Tour of Hainan overall.

“This confirms my momentum”, Antomarchi commented. “The second stage win really says everything about how we’re going. My first victory was great as well but it was due to circumstances. I gave it all at the end of long breakaway but I might as well have lost, had the peloton ridden differently. Today, it’s really an affair of the strongest riders in the race. At the bottom of the last climb with about fifteen kilometers to go, I followed Zeits who had to make up time on GC. I only relayed him in the last kilometer of climbing and then in the downhill towards the finish. I outsprinted him with 150 metres to go. It’s a beautiful victory.”

Marseille, France’s second biggest city located on shores of the Mediterranean sea, is more famous for its controversial football team than for cycling. However, Antomarchi demonstrates that there’s more than just football in the sport culture of the Provence.

“Until the age of 17, I was a football player myself”, Antomarchi told reporters in Wuzhishan after winning the queen stage. “Then I switched to cycling. I joined the Vélo Club La Pomme in 2001 and I’ve been licensed with them since. Only one season (in 2012), I wore different colors as a professional as I joined [US registered Pro Continental outfit] Team Type 1 [now renamed Novo Nordisk]. But I’ve turned pro when the team turned pro in 2011. That’s how I’ve discovered races like the Tour of Hainan. I like coming back here.”

It was a bit of a shock for the 30 year old when he heard from the management that he wouldn’t be offered another contract for racing next year. “Team managers from other teams who I’ve talked to say they don’t understand why La Pomme doesn’t keep but that doesn’t mean they have a spot for me either”, Antomarchi said. “I have the level for racing as a pro, that’s nothing new, so I hope that my performances in Hainan will catch the attention of some team managers although I’m aware that it’s a bit late in the recruitment process.”

La Pomme Marseille has become a successful team in Asia with stage wins by Justin Jules at the 2011 Tour of Hainan, by Benjamin Giraud at diverse Tour of Qinghai Lake and Tour of China, by Thomas Vaubourzeix at this year’s Tour of Qinghai Lake, but shall Antomarchi win the overall classification at the hors-category Tour of Hainan, it would become the team’s best success ever as the Tour de Taiwan won by Rémy Di Gregorio in March this year was a category 1 race without Pro Teams competing.


“As a continental team, we don’t often get the opportunity to race against Pro Teams like Astana, Belkin and Lampre-Merida”, Antomarchi noted. “So we’re obviously motivated to show that our level is pretty close to theirs. With three riders from La Pomme Marseille in the top 6 today, we prove that we’re a strong team, so I can count on my team-mates to help me defend the yellow jersey in the last two days. Secondly, the teams of the sprinters will be interested in riding behind breakaways as well because if no one in the front group is dangerous on GC, we can let them go for a stage win.”



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