Russia’s Evgenii Vitmanovskii has won the 133 km long distance race of Vatternrundan China in a very strong manner, arriving solo ahead of former winner and compatriot Denis Okunev and Mongolia’s Jambaljamts Sainbayar. Those three were dominating the race, breaking away from an elite front group of eight riders on a mountain climb halfway through the race. Last year’s winner Lan Xiaoguang from Qingdao in China was able to keep up with them uphill, but somehow got dropped in the next fast, yet easy descent. Later at the finish, Lan Xiaoguang would express his frustration – or was it admiration – about the three others in that descent, which cost him the the podium today.
It was the 7th edition of Vatternrundan China in Yanbian, Korean Prefecture in Northeastern China. This year, the main event got extended to 133 km and thus became a genuine granfondo-style cycling distance. Roughly 1000 people took part in the event, which also included a 41k short distance race and a MTB race of 43 km. The weather was ideal for cycling and the participants on the long distance got fantastic scenery along the way, including the long stretch along the border with North Korea and its mountainous river landscape there.
After rolling out of Yanji City, an attack by Evgenii Vitmanoskii – already – laid the foundation of what would become the first serious breakaway. Nine riders were initally able to attach their waggon, but coming into Longjing at km 25, only 8 would remain. The last one actually came from aback. Mongolia’s Jambaljamts Sainbayar, returning from the Asian Games in Indonesia where he competed for his country in both the road race and the omnium on the track, had missed the initial move by Vitmanovskii and Okunev, and had to chase very hard to get into the leading group. With hindsight, that chase probably cost him dearly, as later in the race he had no response when Vitmanovskii unleashed his demons at the 90 km mark.
The elite group of 8 broke up at km 60 in the final 2 kilometres of a long gradual climb. Vitmanoskii, Okunev, Jamba and Lan Xiaoguang reached the summit first. Vitmanovskii then went down the descent like a maniac, but waited for Okunev and Jamba, realising it was still very far to the finish. The Chinese favourite got dropped nonetheless. The trio worked together very well, until km 90 when Vitmanovskii made his decisive move. Nobody was able to follow. At the finish later, Okunev was several minutes behind and Jamba even more.
China’s Yu Guangdong won a sprint against Russians Kristina Vasileva and Aleksandra Biankina to win the women’s race. The Chinese rider actually came back from behind.