Subway – Avanti Pro Cycling Team members Joe Cooper and Eric Drower were part an early break on stage three of the Tour de Qinghai Lake in China, before eventually finishing 19 minutes behind Iranian strongman Ghader Mizbani of the Tabriz Petrochemical team.
The Iranian defeated Rasoul Barati (Giant Asia racing Team) and Alexander Filippov (Russian National Team) to claim the 174 kilometre stage three which climbed to 3300 metres above sea level.
“It’s fair to say the boys have had a few challenges, but are settling in now and today was a really good, solid day out that is building some confidence for the days ahead,” Team Manager in China Graeme Miller said.
Miller said the stage started with five laps of a 3.3 kilometre circuit and Subway-Avanti the pace was on right from the start.
“The hammer went down immediately with an average speed of around 60 kilometres per hour for the five laps.”
“Once out on the open road there was 25 kilometres of gradual uphill to the base of the first climb of the day, a 12 kilometre category one climb to 2700 metres with gradients in excess of 12 percent.”
“Cooper tried to get a jump on the favourites and went with a move shortly before the climb began. The move was caught by a group including Drower and then split on the steep gradients.”
Miller said Cooper and Drower were unable to sustain the pace set by the Tabriz Petrochemical team and fell into the second main chase group. Remaining Subway-Avanti team members Ian Smallman, James Williamson and Sam Hogan rode a sensible tempo with a group of 40 riders further back in the field.
Cooper and Drower eventually finished 19 minutes behind the winner with Smallman, Wlliamson and Horgan a further 11 minutes back.
“The boys were all happy with their day's work, are improving with each stage and are looking forward to mixing it up in the coming stages,” Miller said.
The tour continues today with a 117 kilometre stage from Xining to Qinghai Lake.