Marco Benfatto applauds his Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team-mate Manuel Belletti for allowing him a chance to win the Tour of Hainan seventh stage today.
The Italian asked early and got the OK to try to sprint for victory in Sanya, on the island's south coast. He took advantage of the occasion given by Belletti, who already won two stages this edition.
"Today, I spoke with Manuel, I wanted to try for the sprint because it is the end of the season," Benfatto said.
"He said, 'Go for it.' I felt good from the start and it went perfectly."
Benfatto usually works for Belletti or the team's other sprinters. However, he picked up three wins so far in 2018. Today's win, coming after 127.3 kilometres, gave him his fourth.
"We've won often this year," he added. "Today, I got my chance."
Belletti blasted over the line ahead of Imerio Cima (Nippo Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini) and previous stage winner Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF).
"To work and win against those guys means something," Belletti said. "I knew I felt well. I was in the wheels and never felt the wind, it was like I wasn't working!"
Benfatto celebrated his win near the Island's fine-sand beaches guarded by surrounding mountains.
"The roads were perfect, the countryside beautiful, so it was a perfect day," he continued.
"Now, it's back over to the GC fight for the next two days."
Raymond Kreder leads the race overall by seven seconds on Gino Mater (Swiss). Today, Kreder's Ukyo team pulled the group along and controlled the race.
Three riders dominated the day: Wim Kleiman (Monkey Town), Jason Lea (Bennelong Swisswelness), and Zhihui Jiang (Mitchelton-BikeExchange).
With 70km to race, they lead with 2-31 minutes to Giant Cycling Teams's Guo Liang and with 3-25 to the main group with yellow jersey Kreder.
The gap went up, but gradually fell as the finish line approached: At 20km out it was two minutes and at 15km the trio had 55".
They held on until the final kilometres, but Kreder's team worked as it should to bring the stage to a sprint and hopefully a victory for Kreder. The Dutchman managed fifth and held on to the yellow jersey lead.
"It's a little bit frustrating not to win," Kreder said. "I want to go for the green jersey, so I want to take points too."
Kreder consistently placed in the top 10. Doing so allowed him two days so far in the yellow jersey. He should lose the top to the climbers tomorrow, but can still fight for the green points jersey.
"It's been going well, for sure I want to get a stage win, but for sure it's not easy," he added.
"I'll be happy if I get the green jersey, and a couple of days in the yellow jersey is good."
Xianjing Lyu (Hengxiang) maintains the blue jersey of best Asian rider. The classifications will be sorted tomorrow, however. Stage eight finishes with a climb to Changjiang tomorrow after 197.2 kilometres.