Cheung's chance ends in hilly finale

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am

The punishing 2.2-kilometre climb to the finish in Macau crushed Hong Kong's hopes of snatching victory in the Tour of South China Sea yesterday.

Cheung King-wai, who has been sitting in second place since the second of the eight stages and was just four seconds off the lead at the start of the 92.2-kilometre final stage, dropped through the field on the final hill on Coloane, ending in 12th place overall. None of the riders was able to break away in the 10-lap criterium race around the island, but on the climactic ascent, the climbers attacked repeatedly until they broke away from the peloton.

Yellow jersey holder Xu Gang of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Sports Institute joint team was able to hang on for a third place finish which was good enough to clinch the overall title. Cheung took 52nd position in the stage. His 12th place overall finish was Hong Kong's best. Veteran Hong Kong star Wong Kam-po finished 39th, and Wu Kin-san was 27th. A dejected Cheung said the result was not unexpected. 'It was a bit disappointing to lose the overall second place,' he said.

'But I suffered a stomach upset from the fourth stage and my body has yet to fully recover. It was a huge task to deliver in the final stage.'

Micael Isidoro of Portugal won the stage in two hours, 13 minutes and 47 seconds, good enough for second place overall. Michael Fitzgerald of City of Perth team was second over the line, six seconds behind. He took third place overall. Xu was one second behind the Australian.