Sunshine Coast cyclist Matt Rice has claimed his first UCI victory in China, sprinting to a convincing win on the second stage of the Tour of Quanzhou Bay.
19-year-old Rice, who rides for the locally based Pro Racing Sunshine Coast outfit, timed his efforts perfectly in the final sprint of the 108 kilometre stage from Shishi to Fengze.
Pro Racing Sunshine Coast riders featured in several of the main moves of the day, with Kai Chapman landing himself in the breakaway that formed in the opening minutes. That looked to be a winning move with the break staying away until just the final 10 kilometres of the stage.
Once the break was back, PRSC riders Amarni Drake and Ashley Mackay moved to control the race on the front of the bunch. Taj Jones took over in the final kilometre to lead out Rice, who kicked with 700 metres to go and held the bunch off convincingly for the first UCI win of his short but impressive career.
PRSC sports director Henk Vogels said it was an impressive team ride that delivered the victory today.
“The boys all rode so well together as a team today and that’s what made the difference in the end. From Chapman riding the break all day, to the really strong lead out by Drake, Mackay and Jones, we were so impressed at the maturity and professionalism our riders showed to get the job done today.
“Matt Rice really stepped up too of course to finish off with the win. He was our team leader and key sprinter for the tour and he has delivered on the faith the team showed in him. Matt is still just 19 and in his first year riding with us so there are huge things in his future for sure,” Henk said.
The win cements a huge year for the young Rice, in just his first year with the team after finishing high school in 2018.
He was the overall winner in the Tour of America’s Dairyland in June, in what was his first international race. Rice followed this up with dual stage victories at the Tour of King Valley and the Tour of Gippsland last month.
The UCI 2.2 Tour of Quanzhou Bay covers 312 kilometres of racing over three stages, and forms a key part of the professional Asian Tour.
Tour of Quanzhou Bay stage two results:
- Matt Rice (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast)
- Dusan Kaaba (Serbian National team)
- Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin (Terengganu Cycling team)