Nazon sizzles to second Tour win
FRENCHMAN Damian Nazon displayed his sprinting prowess yet again when he won his second stage of the inaugural Kent Tour of China which swept him to the top of the standings in Shanghai yesterday.
The 21-year-old Castorama rider won the second stage in Shenzhen on Tuesday and he came up trumps again in Stage Four in another sprint to the line to win the 76.6-kilometre circuit race before an estimated crowd of 40,000.
Nazon overhauled American leader American Steve Hegg for top spot in the general classification list following his win which earned him a 10-second bonus.
Ten other top riders remain less than 10 seconds off the pace in the overall standings, including former Olympic individual track pursuit champion Mike McCarthy of the US, who is two seconds adrift in third place.
'To win against some of the top professionals like [Djamolidine] Abdoujaporov twice is very good for my confidence,' said Nazon. 'This is a good test for my future.' Nazon will join the famous Banesto team of which five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain is the team leader.
No rider has won any of the four stages by a clear margin and 98 of the 101 riders who raced in the 2.95-km circuit shared the same winning time of one hour, 37 minutes and 15 seconds.
American Hegg, who has held the lead since winning last week's prologue at Sha Tin, is slowly losing his grip on the race.
He said: 'Though it has been great to win prizes and wear the yellow jersey, the only podium that matters is on the final day in Beijing.
'My chances are not over. I am in a good position, only one second behind. My goal is to stay with the leaders on the mountain stage, Saturday and roll some sevens [gamble] on the final day for good luck.' There is no racing today and tomorrow as the 500-km series takes a two-day break.
It was a day to remember for Hong Kong ace cyclist Hui Chak-bor.
The former Hong Kong champion finished 20th yesterday beating a host of top professionals to the line including Russian sprinter Ekimov Viatcheslav, Belgium's third-stage winner Jo Planckaert, two-time world champion Gianni Bugno, Hegg and Uzbeki Abdoujaparov.
But despite his noteworthy achievements yesterday, Hui still languishes in 93rd place overall, one below Ng Kwok-wah, who is Hong Kong's best rider so far in the series.
Wong Kam-po sits further down the list in 96th place after racing with an injured right wrist.
Racing resumes on Saturday with a 132-km road race from Hauirou village to Beijing's Great Wall.
Sunday's finale in Beijing is a 25-km time trial at the Beijing Olympic Stadium.