Champion System's Wurf Runner-Up in Tour of China II Prologue
Cameron Wurf of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team rode to a runner-up finish Sunday in the prologue as the second part of the Tour of China got underway.
Only Tour of China I overall runner-up Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches-Onfone) was faster, bettering Wurf's time by four seconds. Schumacher clocked a 7:36 to Wurf's 7:40 on the flat, 6.2-kilometer course that ran along Liang-zi Lake close to Wuhan, Central China's largest city. Former Ukranian national road and time champion Vitaliy Popkov (ISD-Lampre), who started immediately in front of Wurf, was third, with a 7:41.
"I wondered why I wasn't catching him (Popkov)," Wurf said after a performance that earned him the blue, points classification jersey. The former world-class rower who represented Australia in the 2004 Olympics, said the short effort suited him well.
"It was a good, even course and the strongest rider won," Wurf said. "The distance was good; one or two kilometer prologues are a lottery, but a six-kilometer, seven-minute time trial is a good test. The winning time in a rowing race is normally six or seven minutes. So for me, it was the perfect combination of speed, endurance and aerobic effort."
Wurf's runner-up finish was his second in a prologue, adding to one in May at the Tour of Japan. It was also his third podium finish of the year. He was second overall at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July.
The five-stage Tour of China II continues Tuesday with Stage 1, followed by a rest day Wednesday. Two more road stages Thursday and Friday are followed by an 18.2 km time trial Saturday. The 503.9 km race concludes Sunday with a circuit race.
Champion System Assistant Director Chris Wherry said he would like to see the team improve on its success from last week's Tour of China I when it won the Best China Rider classification with Pengda Jiao, who took it from Gang Xu on the final day, while Aaron Kemps was runner-up on Stage 2.
"I'm happy with the way the boys rode in the first China race," Wherry said. "It was a priority to keep the white (Best China Rider) jersey and although Xu did a ton of work to defend it, we are happy that it stayed in the team. Aaron has some good sprinting legs and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. I was a little disappointed that the organizers put a team time trial in the first day of racing with no other definitive GC (general classification) days. It basically made it impossible to move up the GC.
"The Tour of China II has two individual time trials, so I think we have a really good shot at the GC with Cameron," Wherry said. "Also, I'm sure both the Chinese guys are going to want that White jersey. There are also some longer stages that hopefully will wear down the field."