Jones: Aussie sprinter targets stage wins in Qinghai Lake debut
Delko’s Brenton Jones returns to China and sets sights on multiple sprint opportunities during the highest altitude bike race in the world …
With the absence of 35 career stage winner Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) at this year’s Tour of Qinghai Lake (UCI 2.HC), the sprint specialists in attendance will perhaps have a bit more sting in the legs in the 13-stage crowning jewel of the Asia Tour often referred to as the “unofficial fourth Grand Tour” of the pro cycling calendar.
With stages averaging around 2,500 metres in elevation and peaking to more than 4,100m on Stage 6, Qinghai Lake is the highest altitude bike race in the world — a factoid not lost on Jones.
“There are a lot of sprint opportunities and they are all in the second half of the tour, so I’ll try to get through the first week and support some of the guys that might go for a stage on the tough [climbs] and then after that try and look for some victories [for myself].”
Jones impressed his new employer after proving his prowess in the British criterium scene, racking up two wins in the Tour Series, and is quite quick to profess is appreciation of his new team due the opportunities Delko made available to the Victorian who started the year with two stage wins and a points classification at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo (2.1) in January.
“It’s been fantastic this season and I’ve had a number of opportunities to race WorldTour events, like Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Nice,” he told Eurosport. “This year has been fantastic. The calendar is great and I’m looking forward to finishing off the last half of the season really strong starting here in Qinghai and try to get some stage wins.”
The former Drapac Cycling and Avanti Racing sprinter is no stranger to success with more than a dozen wins already adorning his resumé, however after an admittedly “tough” start to 2018, Jones is keen to return to China and kick off the second half of his season on high ground.
“For me in some of the early French races I found it quite difficult,” admitted Jones. “I haven’t had much experience in European racing to be honest in the last few seasons and this year for me has been great.
“I’ve had a couple good results that have been up there, but not what I wanted so hopefully if I return next year and do some similar races I can convert those races into wins.”
Photo: Adrian Hoe