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Frenchman survives seven categorized climbs on hilly day in China and finally launches his lethal sprint to take his second stage win ahead of Matthews and Tsatevich

Photo: ASO/P.Perreve

ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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MICHAEL MATTHEWS

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NACER BOUHANNI

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TOUR OF BEIJING

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13.10.2013 @ 10:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) doubled his tally in the Tour of Beijing when the fast Frenchman won today's third stage of the race and so extended his overall lead in the process. He survived 7 climbs on a tough day in China and finally launched a furious sprint down the finishing straight to take a convincing win ahead of Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha).

 

Nacer Bouhanni is simply unstoppable in the Tour of Beijing. It was no surprise that he won yesterday's flat stage but few had expected the Frenchman to double his tally on today's far hillier third stage.

 

Nonetheless, Bouhanni left Yanqing in the morning with the firm intention of proving the pundits wrong and so he did. He dug deep to get over the 7 categorized climbs and was always surrounded by several teammates that were ready to bring the race leader back whenever he was put in difficulty.

 

Defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) launched a dangerous attack on the descent to the finish but when several teams combined forces to reel him in, all was set to be decided in a sprint from the select group of riders that still remained in contention.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step had the numbers and gave veteran Alessandro Petacchi the perfect lead-out but the Italian had run out of power. Instead, Bouhanni moved up by getting splendidly through the final corner and when he launched his sprint, the outcome was never in doubt. He took a clear victory ahead of Michael Matthews and Alexey Tsatevich.

 

With the win, Bouhanni takes another 10 bonus seconds to extend his lead to 11 seconds over Matthews who is now in 2nd. However, his time in the leader's jersey will come to an end tomorrow when the queen stage with the first ever mountaintop finish is expected to shape the final overall classification.

 

A hilly stage

The 176km third stage was expected to produce the first slight selection as 7 climbs were spread throughout the entire route with one of them being in the first category. The top of the final ascent was located just 11km from the finish and from there only a short descent and a few kilometres of flat road remained.

 

For the first time in this year's race, the start of a stage was fast and aggressive and it took some time for the early break to get established. Things were still together when the riders reached the site of the first intermediate sprint at the 17km mark where Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) beat Matti Breschel (Saxo-Tinkoff) to pick up 3 bonus seconds. Rui Costa (Movistar) showed his intentions of performing well on GC by taking third and so he took the final bonus second on offer.

 

A break is formed

The sprint was followed by the first categorized climb where the day's break was formed. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), Wesley Sulzberger (Orica-GreenEDGE), Marc Goos (Belkin), Manuele Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff), Albert Timmer (Argos-Shimano) and Hayden Roulston (Radioshack) got clear and were allowed to build up a gap that reached more than 3 minutes. Champion System had missed the move and so Biao Liu set off in pursuit but the Chinese was quickly reeled in by the peloton.

 

Bouhanni's FDJ team took control in the peloton and they were assisted by Omega Pharma-Quick Step who had red-circled this stage as the one where defending champion Martin had to gain some time on his rivals. Those two teams combined forces to keep the gap stable between the 3- and 4-minute marks with the maximum advantage being 3.50.

 

Battle for KOM points

The escapees have battled for KOM points with Caruso and Sulzberger - both fast riders who climb well - being the main actors. Caruso was first across the line on 3 of the first four ascent with Sulzberger being 2nd while the Australian beat the Italian on the second of the day's ascents.

 

The riders passed the day's only category 1 climb where Sulzberger beat Caruso in the sprint. The peloton accelerated on the ascent and had brought the gap down to 2.46 when they reached the top.

 

Ag2r in control

The gap remained stable on the run-in to the penultimate climb while Sulzberger beat Boaro in the day's second intermediate sprint. Meanwhile, the battle for position intensified in the peloton as they got closer to the next ascent.

 

Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) led the peloton onto the lower slopes but it was Ag2r who applied the pressure. The French team took control with Rinaldo Nocentini and when he finished his work, Christophe Riblon and Maxime Bouet strung whings out with team captains Carlos Betancur and Romain Bardet on their wheels.

 

More riders join from behind

The fierce acceleration saw the gap come down to less than a minute by the time they reached the top of the climb where Caruso beat Sulzberger in the sprint for the points. The break momentarily split up with Roulston and Boaro having to chase hard to get back on the descent.

 

Riblon and Bouet kept the pace high on the descent but when they reached flat roads, they slowed down. This allowed a group consisting of Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Benat Intxausti (Movistar), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r), Nelson Oliveira (Radioshack), Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff), Stephen Cummings (BMC) and Carlos Verona (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to go clear and they made it across to the front sextet.

 

Hansen sets off on his own

Hansen launched an attack just before the final intermediate sprint and he set off on his own. Sutherland beat Intxausti in the battle for 2nd place but a few moments later, their group was caught by the peloton which was led by Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ).

 

Hansen managed to build up a gap of 1.12 while FDJ was now in complete control with Jussi Veikkanen, Anthony Roux and Jeremy Roy all taking turns on the front. They were later assisted by Orica-GreenEDGE who asked Christian Meier to assist in the pace-setting and those two teams gradually reeled Hansen in.

 

Several attacks

The Australian was caught just as they hit the bottom of the final climb. That was the time for Movistar to kick into action and so Giovanni Visconti attacked with Rui Costa, Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) on his wheel. Robert Gesink (Belkin), David Lopez (Sky) and Matthias Frank (BMC) bridged across but the peloton closed it down after a little while.

 

Instead, Tony Martin tried his move but he was closely marked by Betancur, Costa and Daniel Martin (Garmin). The next to try his hand was Jan Bakelants (Radioshack) who was followed by Dominik Nerz (BMC), Tony Martin, Costa and Daniel Martin.

 

Martin tries his hand

Bakelants led the peloton across the line at the top but was quickly overtaken by Tony Martin who launched a strong attack. Costa tried to keep his wheel but was unable to do so and suddenly, the world TT champion was the lone leader and being chased by the world road race champion.

 

Daniel Martin led the chase behind and they quickly caught Costa. However, Tony Martin was more difficult to catch and it required strong work from Saxo-Tinkoff with Michael Rogers, Belkin and Orica-GreenEDGE to catch him. Luke Durbridge led the peloton up to the German just before the 4km to go mark.

 

FDJ in control

Marco Pinotti (BMC) tried an unsuccessful counterattack before FDJ took control. Johan Le Bon did a good job to keeo a high pace for a few kilometres while the sprinters battled for position just behind.

 

With 2km to go, Omega Pharma-Quick Step hit the front with Michael Golas, Zdenek Stybar, Nikolas Maes and Petacchi. The Belgian team gave Petacchi the perfect lead-out but when the Italian had to launch his sprint, he had run out of power. Instead, Bouhanni proved his strength by taking another convincing win.

 

Result:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 4.08.15

2. Michael Matthews

3. Alexey Tsatevich

4. Elia Viviani

5. Martin Kohler

6. Borut Bozic

7. Tosh Van Der Sande

8. Jesus Herrada

9. Romain Bardet

10. Matti Breschel

 

General classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 13.28.18

2. Michael Matthews +0.11

3. Maxime Bouet

4. Alexey Tsatevich +0.16

5. Nikolas Maes

6. Matti Breschel +0.18

7. Rui Costa +0.19

8. Benat Intxausti

9. Ryota Nishizono

10. Alessandro Petacchi +0.20

 

Points classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 38

2. Michael Matthews 31

3. Alessandro Petacchi 24

4. Luka Mezgec 21

5. Matti Breschel 21

 

Mountains classification:

1. Damiano Caruso 37

2. Wesley Sulzberger 35

3. Thomas De Gendt 25

4. Chad Beyer 17

5. Olivier Kaisen 16

 

Youth classification:

1. Nacer Bouhanni 13.28.18

2. Michael Matthews +0.11

3. Alexey Tsatevich +0.16

4. Elia Viviani +0.20

5. Jesus Herrada

 

Teams classification:

1. BMC 40.25.54

2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step

3. FDJ

4. Astana

5. Movistar

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