Mitchelton-BikeExchange lost ground in the general classification battle as the punishing altitude took its toll on stage four of the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Colombian Brayan Chaves coped with the conditions the best on the day as he came home in a chasing group along with Kiwi James Oram, 1’37” down on the stage winner and Hernán Aguirre (Interpro Cycling Academy).
The race was blown apart on the opening climb of the day, a category-one 27-kilometre long ascent, as the King of the Mountains leader Alvaro Duarte (China Continental Team of Gansu Bank) attacked ahead of the summit, taking several riders with him.
That group was whittled down to three over the top, while Oram and Chaves where joined in the third group on the road by teammates Nazaerbieke Bieken and Jiankun Liu. The quartet found themselves one minute down on the yellow jersey group, but they set about chasing down the leaders on the descent.
Liu and Bieken eventually lost contact over the final climb, as Oram and Chaves pushed on, crossing the line in a chase group as a duo battled for the win. Liu came home in 43rd to finish as the top Chinese rider, but the 24-year-old has relinquished his best Asian rider jersey.
“3800-metres is a different world, so it was a good ride by the boys to limit our losses. When the race goes a little lower, I’ll be a bit more competitive. I’m now looking forward to meeting the ‘real’ Qinghai Lake on stage six, all I’ve seen so far are endless roads going uphill or down! Tomorrow should be an enjoyable, a ‘recovery’ day.”
Tour of Qinghai Lake Stage 4 Results:
1. Hernán Aguirre (Interpro Cycling Academy) 2:42:20
2. Robinson Chalapud (Medellin) ST
3. Benjamin Dyball (Team Sapura Cycling) +0:16
29. Brayan Chaves (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +1:37
Tour of Qinghai Lake General Classification:
1. Robinson Chalapud (Medellin) 9:35:51
2. Óscar Sevilla (Medellin) +0:32
3. Cristhian Montoya (Medellin) ST
19. Brayan Chaves (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +4:03