11/19/2009

Italian Ventoso wins Hainan international cycling race

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Italy's Francisco Ventoso sprays the champagne on the podium of the last stage of the 2009 Tour of Hainan International Road Cycling Race in Sanya, the southernmost city of south China's Hainan Province, Nov. 19, 2009. A total of 104 cyclists from 20 teams took part in this stage of the race.

SANYA, South China, Nov. 19 -- Defending champion Boris Shpilevsky from Russia fouled at the last stage, conceding the victory to Italian Francisco Ventoso at the 2009 Tour of Hainan International Road Cycling Race here on Thursday.

As Boris was penalized for 120 seconds, Ventoso got to wear the yellow jersey.

At the last 79.2-kilometer circuit race, Boris finished first in one hour 41 minutes and 11 seconds, edging Slovenia's Grega Bole who clocked 1:41:11. Francisco Ventoso from Carmiooro A-Style Team came in the third with 1:41:11.

Boris had kept the yellow jersey for four stages and had been the biggest favorite of this tour.

With four laps left, something was wrong with Boris' bike. To save time, he changed the tyre with Janorschke of Nutrixxion Sparkasse Team from Germany and continued his race. However, his action went against the rule.

"It is not permitted to change the bicycle or any spare part with the players from other teams," said Dirk Van Meulder, the chief umpire of the tour.

According to the rules of UCI, Boris was penalized for 120 seconds.

"Normally professional players know this rule, but maybe Boris did not know it," said Meulder. "It's a pity for him and I think he will never make this mistake again."

Boris also lost the prize money for 22,000 U.S. dollars.

Francisco had been in the second place following Boris within 15 seconds in the general individual classification since the fifth stage.

Francisco did not think his win came by luck. "It is not luck, "he said seriously, "Boris made mistakes and I won the competition. It's my victory."

Francisco told Xinhua he was very clear of the rule, and he felt quite surprised that Boris would make such mistakes.

The 27-year-old winner began to learn cycling since he was seven. Claiming the title, Francisco felt happy and would stay in Sanya for one week. "I will give myself a holiday and have a rest," he said.

As the stage winner, Boris did not attend the press conference. "We understand his feeling," said Qiu Jijin, the technical adviser.

"From the judge's point of view, we should not forgive his mistake out of sympathy, or else other teams would protest," said Qiu, adding that the penalty was right and fair. He also showed his doubt that why such an excellent rider would make such a mistake.

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China's Ma Haijun wins the blue jersey of the last stage of the 2009 Tour of the Hainan International Road Cycling Race in Sanya, the southernmost city of south China's Hainan Province, Nov. 19, 2009.

China's Ma Haijun retained the blue jersey for the best Asian riders individual for the third time. He told the press that Chinese teamwork had improved a lot through the tour and then they would prepare for the Hong Kong 2009 East Asian Games in December.

Volodymyr Zagorodniy from Ukraine continued to keep his polka-dot jersey as there was no climb in the stage.

A total of 104 players from 20 teams attended the last stage race, with 31 riders gradually quitting the tour.

Running from Nov. 11 to 19, the nine-stage race covered 1,400 kilometers through all the 18 cities and counties of the south China's province.

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Russian cyclist Boris Shpilevsky crosses the finish line of the last stage of the 2009 Tour of Hainan International Road Cycling Race in Sanya, the southernmost city of south China's Hainan Province, Nov. 19, 2009.

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(Reuters)

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