McLay takes first WorldTour win in final race of the season

“Winning doesn’t happen often for most people in cycling, so when it does, it’s important to soak it up and enjoy every moment of it.”

-Dan McLay

As the Gree-Tour of Guangxi bunch sprinted into Quinzhou, a hint of pink popped out of the peloton. Dan McLay had timed his acceleration to perfection. The Briton was rewarded with his first WorldTour win on the second stage of the Gree-Tour of Guangxi. 

“It’s always a good feeling to win,” said McLay. “Winning doesn’t happen often for most people in cycling, so when it does, it’s important to soak it up and enjoy every moment of it.” 

It wasn’t meant to be McLay’s day. He had teammate Sep Vanmarcke up the road, who attacked late in the race, signalling his stage ambitions. When Vanmarcke was caught, an attentive McLay was ready. He celebrated his season-long persistence and fight with a punch in the air and a smile across the finish line. 

Vanmarcke had intended to set up Hugh CarthyHugh Carthy in the escape early on in the stage, but when it was Vanmarcke, not Carthy, who found himself up the road, he embraced the opportunity. Although he was caught two kilometers from the finish line, Vanmarcke was awarded most aggressive for his efforts. 

“I attacked with 10 kilometeers to go, but unfortunately they caught me a few kilometers from the finish. I was disappointed, but immediately after, I heard Dan had won, and it was great at the same time,” said Vanmarkce. “We hope that it’s something for EF China to be excited about.”

It didn’t take long for the escape to break free on the 152-kilometer stage that began in Beihei. Vanmarcke slipped away with Laurens de Vreese (Astana) and Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Energie). The trio collaborated in their quest to hold off the Bora-hansgrohe and UAE Emirates peloton until Vanmarcke struck out as the bunch closed in. 

“It was good to have Sep up the road,” explained McLay. “We could sit back with no stress. He made it pretty hard for the bunch to bring him back.  

“I stayed around Julius van den BergJulius [van den Berg] and Moreno HoflandMoreno [Hofland], but on such big roads there is a lot of movement. I just took my own way and then hit out when it opened up. Thankfully I had the power to take it to the line.”

It’s been a long sip between drinks for McLay, who last won in January on the opening stage of the Herald Sun Tour. His win in China on Friday came as a huge relief. 

“I think Dan has had a frustrating time for a while,” said sport director Tom Southam. “Everyone is really happy to see him get this result.” 

Southam’s sentiment extended to the entire team. 

“We played the card with Sep as long as possible, and he did a really nice rice, accelerated at the right time to leave the other guys in the breakaway, but obviously it’s always difficult on a day like today because the sprint teams are so interested,” Southam explained. “With Sep there, the rest of the team got a free ride all day. We could be pretty relaxed. And then Dan did the business in the sprint.

“These finishes can be quite chaotic and hard to control,” Southam added. “Dan is the kind of guy who is capable of dealing with that, reading it right. He showed how fast he can be.”

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