Team Lampre-Merida

1st pro win for Ilia Koshevoy in China


1st pro win for Ilia Koshevoy in China

The Tour de France is not the only race of the professional cycling circus in July: At the same time the Tour of Qinghai Lake is being raced in China. Featuring no less than 13 stages, this race saw an unlucky start for TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA. But at the end of the hard 7th stage Ilia Koshevoy got to celebrate his first win as a pro cyclist, the 22nd win of the season for TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA.

TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA fielded six riders for the Tour of Qinghai Lake and had big ambitions: Xu Gang wanted to shine in front of his home crowd, and for Chun Kai Feng this was one of the most important races of the Asian calendar as well. Luka Pibernik started the race as Slovenia’s freshly crowned national champion and both Tsgabu Grmay and Ilia Koshevoy were aiming for a stage win. Last but not least Mattia Cattaneo was supposed to get back into racing rhythm after a lengthy absence due to injuries. But a pile-up in the finale of the second stage forced Cattaneo to abandon the race. Xu Gang limped over the finish line but was unable to start the next day’s stage, and Luka Pibernik also got involved in said pile-up.

Reduced to four riders, TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA had no choice but to reassess its ambitions. Of all the hard stages at hand, Ilia Koshevoy dealt out his blow in the 7th stage that was dubbed the Queen’s stage by many experts: Shortly after the start the young rider from Belarus joined a group of attackers that also included his team mate Luka Pibernik. Throughout the stage the lead group shrank to five riders, including Koshevoy. And with 15 kilometers to go Ilia Koshevoy placed his attack. He managed to drop his last remaining companions and cross the finish line in Xunhua on his own with an advantage of almost a minute. For Koshevoy this was his first win in the pro ranks, and for TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA it was the 22nd win of the season, courtesy of no less than 13 riders.

As for the Tour de France, the team is still chasing a true sense of achievement. In stage 8’s demanding finale up the Mûr de Bretagne, Rui Costa managed to keep up with the fastest riders up to the penultimate kilometer. But then TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA’s captain had to let those riders go, thus conceding another 35 seconds to the leaders of the rival teams. One day later however the riders in blue, fuchsia and MERIDA green showed a way better performance than expected in the team time trial over 28 kilometers. The team paced itself skilfully on the demanding course, posted the 2nd fastest time on the final sector that featured 2 kilometers of climbing and finished in a respectable 8th place, just 48 seconds off the winning time. After the first rest day, the riders are facing three hard stages in the Pyrenees. The overall standings will take shape for real only after these stages have been ridden.

Tour of Qinghai Lake

Stage 7: Guide - Xunhua, 190km

1. Ilia Koshevoy, BLR/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, in 5:09.13 hours
2. Mykhaylo Kononenko, UKR, + 0.55
3. Matej Mugerli, SVN, st