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"Considering the whole work we’ve done, we deserved to win but the guy alone at the front has been brave too. We’ve ridden in order to close the gap but Belkin only came to the front with 3km to go."

Photo: Sirotti








23.10.2014 @ 13:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lampre-Merida got agonizingly close to another victory in the Tour of Hainan when both Andrea Palini and Niccolo Bonifazio finished in the top 3 on stage 4. Having been unable to catch lone escapee Julien Antomarchi, the team regretted the lack of assistance from the Belkin team.


The podium of the Tour of Hainan is once again mostly painted in blue-fucshia-green but this time there are regrets for Lampre-Merida at the end of the 4th stage. Julien Antomarchi escaped from the bunch with Butto and Surutkovich (maximum advantage of 8') and later he was the solo leader of the race. Lampre-Merida led the chase in the peloton, but the French rider took the victory and the overall leadership.


Andrea Palini was 2nd (he's still the leader of the points competition), third place for Niccolo Bonifazio.

In Xinglong, Palini and Bonifazio dominated the bunch sprint of the bunch but they were beaten by Antomarchi by just 2 seconds.


“I’m a bit frustrated”, said Palini who won the sprint behind the Frenchman. “We could have done better. Considering the whole work we’ve done, we deserved to win but the guy alone at the front has been brave too. We’ve ridden in order to close the gap but Belkin only came to the front with 3km to go. We’ve been helped by the team of the leader [Hengxiang] and another Chinese team [Giant-Champion System]. With the heavy rain in the last hour, the road was a bit dirty and we were scared to slip in the finale. Actually, there was a bit of mistake by some riders in the last curve, not by us because we were well informed, but others went the wrong way. It might have cost the win.”

“It’s a missed occasion even though it’s a nice result to have two Lampre-Merida riders on the podium”, third placed Niccolo Bonifazio commented. “We’ve done the last 30km at 50km/h, maybe even more. We couldn’t ride faster. [Roberto] Ferrari sprinted till the 200m to go mark, then I led Palini out for him to take the yellow jersey but we didn’t manage to get it. The rain has been a factor in favor of the Frenchman in the lead. But this race is pleasant and we’ll try to do well in the harder stages.”

"Withonly 6 riders in the team, it's not easy to control the race or to organize a chase," sports director Simone Pedrazzini explaine. "Everything is even more difficult if no other team supports you: we led the chase for more than 50 km and with 3000m to go, Belkin finally gave its support. It would have been enough that the teams that were interested in a sprint finish, would have given a little help.

"Anyway, I would like to highlight the good condition of Palini and Bonifazio that will give them the opportunity to be protagonists in the next stages too."



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