Team BMC’s Cycling’s ‘God of Thunder’, Thor Hushovd, sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Beijing.
The Norwegian won the opening in a bunch sprint over Luka Mezgec and Nikolas Maes in Huairou Studio City on the outskirts of the Chinese capital.
“It was a good win and I surprised myself,” the former world champion said following his victory.
“I’ve had a hard couple of weeks after the worlds for the motivation but I still did the good training that I had to do, so to win here today couldn’t be better,” Hushovd said.
Orica GreenEdge hit the front of the peloton in the final few kilometres in a bid to add to Michael Matthews’ growing victory tally, before Matt Brammeier (Champion System) moved ahead with one kilometer to go. There was a second surge from the Australian team on the slight downhill run to the finish, and it was then that a glimpse of Hushovd could be spotted around sixth wheel.
Sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Roberto Ferrari then dueled at the front, before Mezgec and Matthews looked to be battling for stage honors before Hushovd came around the back of the Argos-Shimano rider for a narrow victory.
"It was a large road and really fast with a slight downhill,” Hushovd explained. “I think I just had a perfect run. I was a bit behind and I got some slipstream and in the last couple of metres I was able to pass, I can’t remember who, but I got just in front of him.”
Hushovd will wear the red leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s second stage, courtesy of the win and the 35-year-old is hopeful of retaining the lead for at least another day.
“At least we will try to keep it tomorrow then it’s two hard stages and we’ll see what happens. I’ll do my best.”
The 190.5 km stage got underway under clear, sunny skies at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. A brief period of neutral was ended with direct action from the peloton, with attacks from the drop of the flag.
Four riders were able to open a small gap of around 200 meters on the peloton with Willem Wauters, Ryota Nishizono, Sander Cordeel and Davide Vigano moving clear.
It was a fast start to the race, with the pace at 50km/h after 6km, the breakaway out to an advantage of nearly two minutes. A brisk tailwind certainly provided some assistance early in the stage.
Vigano took maximum points on the first sprint of the day at 39.5km, but Wauters succeeded on the remaining two, so it’s the Belgian who will wear the green jersey heading into stage two.
Cordeel, who took the lone KOM of the day and therefore the polka dot jersey, said that it was a day for taking chances.
“It’s always nice to have a jersey for one day but if you don’t believe in it you will stay the entire stage in the peloton and you will see boring races so you have to go for it.”
Teams from Cannondale and FDJ.Fr would do the bulk of the work back in the peloton, however the four escapees would be allowed to move out to an advantage of 8:55 with 40km of racing complete before the gap slowly started coming back.
Shortly before the 120km mark, Vigano’s efforts pulling turns in the break ceased. It was later determined that the Italian had pulled off the road for a "nature break".
The break’s strength again took a hit when Wauters was dropped with around 35km left to race, but Nishizoni too struggled to stick with Cordeel who ploughed on ahead solo. It was an effort that would also earn him the most aggressive prize for the stage.
“The thing is, you can ride as fast as you want but in the end it’s the peloton who decides how much time you’ll get,” he explained.
“We did a good tempo… I said to the guys ‘save yourself for the last 40kms’ but when I went they didn’t follow. “For one moment I really thought maybe I had a small chance but at the end you’re so tired you’re glad the peloton is there so you can stop pedaling,” he continued. “My legs are hurting.”
Cordeel was eventually caught with five kilometers remaining in the stage with BMC taking responsibility at the front of the peloton to get their man over the line.
Time bonuses give Hushovd a three-second lead in the general classification over Wauters, with another second back to Mezgec. Two-time defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) finished in the main bunch but had a 10 second deficit to Hushovd overall.
Stage 1 Results NOR 1 HUSHOVD, Thor (BMC RACING TEAM) 4:20:34 SLO 2 MEZGEC, Luka (TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO) BEL 3 MAES, Nikolas (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP CYCLING TEAM) ITA 4 PETACCHI, Alessandro (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP CYCLING TEAM) AUS 5 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GREENEDGE) ESP 6 SANZ, Enrique (MOVISTAR TEAM) GER 7 SELIG, Rudiger (KATUSHA) FRA 8 BOUHANNI, Nacer (FDJ) BEL 9 VANGENECHTEN, Jonas (LOTTO BELISOL) ITA 10 FERRARI, Roberto (LAMPRE-MERIDA) RUS 11 TSATEVITCH, Alexey (KATUSHA) AUS 12 VON HOFF, Steele (GARMIN SHARP) BLR 13 HUTAROVICH, Yauheni (AG2R LA MONDIALE) NED 14 VAN HUMMEL, Kenny Robert (VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM) NED 15 MOL, Wouter (VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM)
General Classification after Stage 1 NOR 1 HUSHOVD, Thor (BMC RACING TEAM) 4:20:24 BEL 2 WAUTERS, Willem (VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM) + 3 SLO 3 MEZGEC, Luka (TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO) + 4 BEL 4 MAES, Nikolas (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP CYCLING TEAM) + 6 JPN 5 NISHIZONO, Ryota (CHAMPION SYSTEM PRO CYCLING TEAM) + 9 ITA 6 PETACCHI, Alessandro (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP CYCLING TEAM) + 10 AUS 7 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GREENEDGE) ESP 8 SANZ, Enrique (MOVISTAR TEAM) GER 9 SELIG, Rudiger (KATUSHA) FRA 10 BOUHANNI, Nacer (FDJ)
You must be logged in to post a comment.