Dylan Kennett stands on the cusp of a famous win in the Tour of Taihu Lake. The 24 year old has led the race since stage 1, and with just the final stage to come holds a 27 second lead in the general classification.
It makes for impressive reading, looking at Kennett’s record at the Tour of Taihu Lake 2019. Of the six stages from the prologue to now Kennett has not placed outside of the top five on any of them, with three second place finishes and victory in stage 3 among the list of accolades.
If there was going to be a banana skin stage over the race it was yesterday’s stage 5 starting and finishing in Jurong. In a race that has been renowned for being basically pancake flat, this stage provided a couple of very short climbs that were steep enough to be a potential launchpad for a dangerous move. St George Continental Cycling needed to be on the look out for danger men.
The team predictably assumed control of the peloton in the early stages with Tom Hubbard setting the tempo at the head of the race as a breakaway appeared free to fly early on. In the move were Nicola Venchiarutti of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Sam Brand of Team Novo Nordisk, Junyong Wang of Hengxiang Cycling Team, Tegele Yi of Kunbao Sport Continental Cycling Team, Dzianis Mazur of Minsk Cycling Club and Wenbo Huang of Shenzhen Xidesheng Cycling Team.
In a race that’s been known as being exceptionally difficult to establish any sort of substantial lead, it was surprising that the break were able to build a 3 minute lead over the peloton. This took the pressure off of the peloton who knew that the bonus seconds would be taken by the break and none of the GC contenders.
Steadily and inevitably the break’s lead began to drop, sitting at 2.22mins with 55km to go. St George Continental Cycling were a constant presence on the front, but with a number of other teams around them. The allure of the short climbs did tempt a couple of moves, particularly from Burgos-BH who had Vuelta a Espana stage winner Ángel Madrazo in their ranks. Along with riders from Team Novo Nordisk, Medellin, Israel Cycling Academy, Delko Marseille Provence and Minsk Cycling Club there was certainly pressure applied to the defence of the orange jersey; but Kennett and his teammates remained resolute.
The result, however, was that the break’s lead completely evaporated and with 43km to go it was all together again. But a new move was ready to go clear that presented far more danger as Matthias Brändle of Israel Cycling Academy and Oscar Sevilla of Medellin put in a brief attack, that was countered by Madrazo and Delko Marseille’s Joseph Areruya. That also came to nought although Areruya was able to hold on out front, but it did propel another move from Mattia Viel of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Rémy Rochas of Delko Marseille Provence and Branislau Samoilau. They chased Eduard Vorganov of Minsk Cycling Club who caught the lone leader Areruya, and eventually a leading group of six riders formed at the head of the race.
With 34k to go the group had a 30 second advantage oer the main field which still contained Dylan Kennett, although now there was support in the chase from Israel Cycling Academy. Initially the break’s lead held well but with 20km to go the gap had come down to 17 seconds; as it progressively looked more like Kennett might survive the skirmishes.
A late move from Sevilla and Madrazo was the last great hurrah for the breakaway artists who hoped to wrestle orange away. Their move had the peloton at full flight trying to keep control of the move. Sevilla and Madrazo were joined by Alexandre Delettre of Delko Marseille Provence., but finally with just under 13km to go they were caught.
St George Continental resumed their position on the front of the race although the attacks kept coming. But together with Israel Cycling Academy they managed to ensure that a bunch sprint would ensue, putting Kennett in with a great opportunity of building his lead.
St George Continental Cycling were challenged by Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM who wound up the sprint very early. Kennett, with 1km to go, found himself about 20 riders back and with work to do, eventually the Kiwi managed to find a bit of clear road. Eventually Imerio Cima of Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè led out the sprint, with Dylan Kennett hitting for home, but he’d launched a little too early from a little too far out and Brenton Jones of Delko Marseille Provence was able to come around him and claim the win ahead of Boris Vallée of Wanty-Gobert and Imerio Cima with Kennett fourth; successfully keeping hold of his 27 second advantage overall.
Michael Vink remains fifth overall at 35 seconds with Matt Zenovich 10th; while the St George Continental Cycling Team continue to lead the team standings by 10 seconds.