Podium for Team Novo Nordisk: Andrea Peron finishes 3rd in Xi’an
The Tour of China has started almost perfectly for Team Novo Nordisk. After 96.9km (60.2m), Andrea Peron finished 3rd after a strong finish in Xi’an. He therefore missed the yellow jersey only by seconds. It was the second podium in this season for the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team. The 24-year-old Peron had been 3rd in the opening stage of the Tour de Beauce in Canada already. The Czech Jiri Hochmann from Team Dukla Praha won the stage that finished close to the megapolis Xi’an, just ahead of Daniel Biedermann from Team Vorarlberg from Austria. Last year’s winner, Stefan Schumacher from Team Christina Watches, finished 4th behind Peron.
The first part of the mostly flat stage was dominated by a 21-men breakaway group, in which Joonas Henttala represented Team Novo Nordisk. The 21-year-old from Finland was one of the most active riders, however the group never gained more than one minute. As the final was prepared, Peron made it to the group, which made the first mass sprint in the Tour of China possible for Team Novo Nordisk.
“First day, first podium – could be worse!” said Peron. “The shape is not 100% yet due to the long travel and the time shift. Giving these circumstances, the result is totally acceptable! La Pomme Marseille kept the pace up high in the final and Dukla Praha counterattacked. The victory was gone, we eventually sprinted for the second place. There will be more stages and more chances, though.”
“A top ranking right at the beginning of the stage race – this was the first stage and we proved already, that we are up for the job. Thereby, we must never forget that Andrea races in his first season as a professional cyclist. He showed today that he can even deal with a very fast and very sketchy finale. If Joonas and Andrea had not lost touch in during the last kilometers, a better result would have been possible.” said Massimo Podenzana, Sports Director of Team Novo Nordisk in China.
“This was a super fast stage and a lot of hard work,” commented Joonas Henttala. The big teams all head two riders in the breakaway group and attacked one after the other for a long time. I had to close a lot of gaps and bridge to the leaders but in the end it worked out fine and payed off. When Andrea came into the group, I gave him a strong leadout to prepare his sprint. The final kilometers were very sketchy and separated us, however Peron is a very strong rider; in the end he made it himself.”
In the prolog of the Tour of China, which is not part of the general classification, Javier Megias was the fastest rider of Team Novo Nordisk and finished 11th after 7:04:464 minutes, 13 seconds behind the stage winner Stefan Schumacher.
The second stage of the Tour of China takes place on Sunday. After a transfer by plane to Deyang on Saturday, the stage on Sunday will be 201.8km (125.3m) and thus the longest of the entire race. The main difficulty of the stage will be between Deyang and Shifang, which is a climb of 1000 meters of altitude about 50km before the finish line.
Lineup of Team Novo Nordisk for the Tour of China
There are racing riders from five nations the Tour of China for Team Novo Nordisk:
The lineup for China:
Kevin de Mesmaeker, BEL, 22
Joonas Henttala, FIN, 21
David Lozano Riba, ESP, 24
Javier Megias Leal, ESP, 29
Andrea Peron, ITA, 24
Martijn Verschoor, NED, 28.