Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) takes the Tour of Hainan's yellow jersey thanks to his first professional win on the Changjiang summit finish stage.
Masnada, on the seven-kilometre climb, rode clear of final rival Swiss Gino Mäder in the final 500 metres. He won solo, taking five seconds and the bonus seconds for the race lead.
"I knew I was going well, but I didn't know the climb and my rivals. I gave it all, and I was able to take all the spoils," Masnada said.
"It's beautiful to take my first professional win, I've been after it since the start of the year. I was close different times, also at the Giro d'Italia. The first win is always important."
With the final flat stage nine tomorrow, 24-year-old Masnada looks ready to win the 13th edition of the Tour of Hainan. He leads by two seconds on Mäder
It did not come easily. Mäder looked most threatening after winning stage six to Wuzhishan two days prior.
"Mäder knew that I was stronger, so he wasn't helping at all, and just followed," Masnada said. "I pulled hard at 500m and I found my self alone, and I just kept going."
"I was just battling with myself," Mäder explained.
"He was putting me in the deep so often on the climb. I just hoped and prayed and that he would ease up, but when he had a gap, he turned around and saw it. He had a morale boost and rode clear.
"I knew I had to stay close, but my legs were just empty. Chapeau to Fausto."
He placed third overall in the Tour of Turkey last year. Hainan marked a new experience for the young Italian, having never raced on the resort island off of China's southeast coast.
"I didn't think to find such a big island and so populated," added Masnada. "Team Androni truly worked hard here in China, helping Belletti win twice and Benfatto."
Team Androni now counts four stage wins in this Tour of Hainan.
Teams Switzerland and Ukyo, the team of previous race leader Raymond Kreder, pulled much of the day. The teams had to keep an escape in check.
Five riders escaped early into the 189.2km stage from Ledong to Changjing. Two riders from Monkey Town, Joey Van Rhee and Peter Schulting, rode with Roy Goldstein (Israel Cycling Academy), Oleksandr Polivoda (Ningxia Sports) and Kohei Uchima (Nippo).
Their gap shot up to over nine minutes and dipped down to just under eight minutes with 100km to race. The effort in the island's south proved too much for the Japanese rider from team Nippo.
At 20km, only four remained and they held 3-31 minutes. At the base of the seven-kilometre final climb, Monkey Town's Peter Schulting pushed ahead alone.
Masnada and Mäder caught the leader at 4.4km to race. Masnada, Gino Mäder and mountains leader Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang) rosf clear. Matteo Badilatti (Israel Cycling Academy) and Julien El Farès (Delko-Marseille) joined from behind. The front fight, however, was an Italian-Swiss duel.
"I think that a stage win and second overall is still a great achievement, wand how we showed as a team," Mäder said. "We played the game well. We can be proud as a team.
"It's no shame to lose to Fausto Masnada. But I think I'll see him again on the road in the future. I think I'll be able to beat him in a stage race overall one day."