Serbian Rajovic sprints into yellow at Qinghai Lake
Second time’s the charm for Serbian sprinter Dušan Rajovic (Adria Mobil), who took the bunch sprint victory on stage 2 in Xining, China on Monday — a day after narrowly missing out on a win in the 2017 Tour of Qinghai Lake opener.
“Everybody expected a group sprint today, and my team worked for me all day to deliver me in the perfect position in the final,” Rajovic told Eurosport. “This is great motivation for me because this was my first big victory and first victory this year for my team and I am very happy.”
The Slovenian-registered UCI Continental team is no stranger to success at the 13-stage UCI Asia Tour road race. Former rider and current UAE Team Emirate sprinter Marko Kump is second all-time with seven stage wins — one behind UAE team-mate Sacha Modolo. And Croatian Radoslav Rogina won the race in 2015.
However Rajovic is a different type of sprinter claims team sports director Boštan Mervar.
“Dušan is still a young rider and not like Marko Kump, who is an experienced veteran, but he is a good sprinter and is proving he can deliver success,” Mervar said. “He is a different sprinter than Marko. He'd rather sprint from behind and Marko is stronger and is able to start in front and hold to the line.”
However, Rajovic doesn’t mind the comparisons and does not feel any pressure to fill Kump’s shoes.
“Marko Kump is a great rider and was on our team two years ago, and he is a big motivation for me,” he admitted.
The race animated quickly with a three-man attack early in the 115-kilometre circuit race featuring eight 14.3-kilometre laps. American John Harris (CCB-Velotooler), Belarusian Yauhen Sobal (Minsk) and China’s Zhishan Zhang launched a three-man break that would carry them inside the final 20km.
“It was a bit like back home — American crit racing,” Harris told Eurosport. “I guess there really wasn’t a chance for the breakaway to win, but I suppose with a little bit of luck there is always some bit of hope.”
Harris and Sobal dropped Zhang heading into the final lap before the duo were eventually reeled in by the surging field.
“The three of us would soft-pedal the back stretch with the tailwind and work the head stretch,” Harris explained.
" Eventually the Minsk guy and I realised we were carrying dead weight so we wanted to give it a go together — the whole day we were pulling 50 km/h."
Stage 3 features the first real climbing stage — a 133km parcours from Duoba to Guide with an hors catégorie climb rising to 3,819 metres at the summit.
Stage 2 results, top 3
1. Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Adria Mobil, 2:29:05
2. Riccardo Stacchiotti, ITA, Nippo-Vini Fantini, s.t.
3. Ahmet Örken, TUR, Torku-Sekerspor, s.t.
1. Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Aria-Mobil, 5:59:49
2. Jon Aberasturi, ESP, Team UKYO, +0:06
3. Yauhen Sobal, BLR, Minsk Cycling Team, +0:07
Race leader (yellow jersey): Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Aria-Mobil
Points leader (green jersey): Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Aria-Mobil
Mountains leader (polka dot jersey): Nazim Bakirci, Torku-Sekerspor
Best Asian rider (blue jersey): Zhishan Zhang, CHN, Qinghai Tianyoude Cycling Team
Teams classification: Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia, 18:00:15