10 June 2013
Kristian Sbaragli claimed his first professional win by easily outsprinting the field on the first stage of the Tour of Korea on Sunday and in so doing picked up Team MTN-Qhubeka’s second leader’s jersey of the season in a stage race.
The young Italian won the sprint from an eight-man group by a cycle’s length to take not only his first season win but also the sixth win of the African team’s first Professional Continental season. After six top 10 placings this season, it was Sbaragli’s first trip to the top step of the podium.
His South African teammate Martin Wesemann made a large contribution to the victory, having escaped for some 100 kilometers, both in a group and solo, before setting up Sbaragli for the sprint after being caught.
The Italian won the sprint in the Korean home of team sponsor Samsung after 180.8 kilometers between Cheonan and Muju ahead of his countryman Albert Cecchin (Team Nippo) and Estonian Mart Ojavee (Champion System).
“What a great start. The team has been so motivated to get results this year,” team principal Douglas Ryder.
“Martin did an incredible job, showing how he has developed over the last 18 months and for Kris to get his first race win of the year after coming so close so many times is just fantastic for him. We will see many more victories from him now.”
In addition to taking the overall lead in the race, the Italian also went top of the sprint ranking with his opening stage win.
Riders from MTN-Qhubeka featured strongly from the start of the stage. Johann Van Zyl and Songezo Jim tried to get in various break groups, before Martin Wesemann initiated the day’s escape with around 100 kilometers to go.
Together with Japanese rider Shinichi Fukushima (Team Nippo), Dutchman Thomas Rabou (OCBC Singapore), Chinese rider Yingchuan Gu (MAX) and New Zealander Jason Christie (OCBC Singapore), Wesemann rode ahead of a large chase group around Sbaragli for about 80 kilometres.
In an exciting finale, the South African attacked on the last climb and tried to save his ever-shrinking gap with a solo ride in the last 20 kilometres.
Although he was caught shortly before the finish, the win still went to his team as Sbaragali convincingly won the sprint.
The South Korea race covers 1 077 kilometres and takes place over eight stages, starting in Cheonan and ending in Hanam.
The MTN-Qhubeka team for the Tour of Korea is made up of Louis Meintjes (RSA), Johann Van Zyl (RSA), Bradley Potgieter (RSA), Martin Wesemann (RSA), Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA), Songezo Jim (RSA) and Kristian Sbaragli (Ita).
SAinfo reporter and Team MTN_Qhubeka