Crash denies HK pair podium spots

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2007, 12:00am

An accident approaching the finish in Zhongshan yesterday denied Hong Kong riders the chance of a top-three placing in the sixth stage of the Tour of South China Sea.

Both Tang Wang-yip, holder of the yellow jersey, and Lam Kai-tsun took tumbles after one of the leaders, Kim Nielsen of the Danish Horsens team, crashed in the final bend with only 200 metres of straight road to go.

Eight riders were involved in the accident, including the two HSBC Hong Kong Pro Cycling team members, but all eight were awarded the same time as the peloton since they were within 3kms of the finish. None was seriously injured.

Taiji Nishitani of the Japan national team seized his opportunity, coming from behind and sprinting strongly to finish first in two hours, 22 minutes and 54 seconds in the 105km criterium. Sergey Kudentsov of the Discovery Channel Marco Polo team was a second behind, while third place went to another Japan team rider, Makoto Iijima.

The result, however, meant no change to the general individual classification, with 24-year-old Tang still holding the yellow jersey on an accumulated time of 13:05:49, leading Tsui Kong of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Sports Institute team by four seconds. Dane Jacob Nielsen of Horsens remains third overall, six seconds behind Tang.

Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang was disappointed. '[Tang and Lam] just lack experience. Neither was injured and they should have got up and carried on sprinting to the finish. It shows they still have a lot more to learn on the international stage.'

The tour continues today with another criterium of 84km along the seafront in Zhuhai. Shen said it would not be easy to attack as the course was flat and short. 'It is very likely the race will be decided in the final stage in Macau where the hilly course could make a big difference,' he said.