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Coming from far back, Farrar did a very impressive sprint at the end of the hilly third stage of the Tour of Beijing, passing all the sprinters to take his first 2014 win in his final race of the year; Gilbert defended his lead

Photo: Feltet.dk

EF EDUCATION - EASYPOST

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LUKA MEZGEC

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NIKOLAS MAES

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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TOUR OF BEIJING

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TYLER FARRAR

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12.10.2014 @ 11:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tyler Farrar gave Garmin-Sharp the perfect farewell present when he won stage 3 of the final race in his long career at the American team, beating all the sprinters at the end of the hilly race. Coming from very far back, he held off Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) and Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to take his first victory of the season while Philippe Gilbert (BMC) finished safely in the bunch to defend his overall lead.

 

For a few years, Tyler Farrar was known as one of the best sprinters in the world but in the last few years, the fast American has had a hard time living up to his reputation. Having gone winless through almost the entire 2014 season, he has decided that he needs some fresh air and will leave Garmin-Sharp where he has been riding almost his entire career, at the end of the season, joining the South African MTN-Qhubeka team.

 

Today Farrar gave his team the perfect farewell present when he took a convincing win on the third stage of the Tour of Beijing, his final race in the colours of the American team. The American timed a long sprint perfectly and flew past all the fast finishers in the Chinese race to take the victory with a clear margin, holding off Luka Mezgec and Nikolas Maes in the battle for the win.

 

However, it was no easy task for Farrar to get the chance to use his fast legs. With seven categorized climbs, the stage was one of the hardest of the 5-day and it was always going to be a hard battle for the sprinters to survive the many ascents. Farrar dug deep on the final climb where the climbers started to attack each other and was part of the 100-rider group that headed down the descent for a sprint finish.

 

The Orica-GreenEDGE team proved their great lead-out skills by stringing out the peloton in the finale, with Pieter Weening and Mathew Hayman hitting the front in the final kilometres. Passing the red kite, final lead-out man Daryl Impey took over and he delivered youngster Caleb Ewan in the perfect position.

 

However, the Australian had hit the front to early and he started to fade at a point when Farrar was not even in the top 10. While Mezgec started to move up in the left-hand side of the road, the American accelerated in the opposite side and the pair went head-to-head on the front in the last few metres. The Garmin sprinter was clearly the fastest, completing a series of near-misses with his first win of the season.

 

Race leader Philippe Gilbert enjoyed a mostly stress free day and finished safely in the peloton to defend his 5-second lead over Reinardt van Rensburg (Giant-Shimano). The Belgian now goes into the decisive stage of the race, tomorrow’s queen stage which finished on the Miaofeng Mountain. Before getting to the final 12km climb, the riders will tackle no less than 5 ascents, making it a very tough day that is likely to shape the final GC completely.

 

A hilly stage

After yesterday’s shortened puncheur stage, the riders tackled the hilliest stage of the race when they headed over 176km from Yanqing to a finish in front of the Qianjiadian Chao Yang Temple. Along the way, the riders tackled no less than 7 categorized climb but 5 of them were located in the first half of the race. In the second half, there were long flat stretches between the two final ascents, with the final climb summiting just 11km from the finish. A short descent led to the final 7km that were completely flat.

 

Luckily the air quality had improved since yesterday which meant that the stage could go on unaltered. All 132 riders who finished yesterday’s stage took the start under beautiful sunny conditions and as expected they rode very fast in the first part of the race.

 

A fast start

For many riders, this is the only chance to win a stage and so it was no surprise to see that there were lots of attacks right from the beginning. It took a long time for the break to be established and when the riders reached the first intermediate sprint after 17km of racing, things were still together. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) beat Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE), Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) in the battle for the points and the bonus seconds.

 

Shortly after that point, the break was established when Dayer Quintana (Movistar), Julien Berard (Ag2r), Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (FDJ), Julian Alaphilippe (OPQS), Michal Golas (OPQS) and Karsten Kroon (Tinkoff-Saxo) got clear. At the 26km mark, they were 45 seconds ahead while Golas beat Alaphilippe and Quintana in the first KOM sprint.

 

KOM points for Golas

After 28km of racing, they were 1.50 ahead and at the 50km mark, they had extended the advantage to 3.40. Golas was again the fastest in the second KOM sprint, leading Lecuisinier, Kroon and Alaphilippe across the line.

 

On the third climb, Golas continued to pick up points as he beat Kroon, Alaphilippe and Berard in the sprint while the escapees continued to build their advantage. It reached a maximum of 4 minutes before BMC started to control the situation.

 

More teams start to chase

On the fourth climb, Golas led Lecuisinier, Alaphilippe and Berard across the line and he was again the fastest at the top of the fifth ascent, beating Kroon, Lecuisinier and Quintana in the battle for the points. Meanwhile, BMC worked on the front of the peloton, keeping the gap stable at around 4 minutes.

 

Rick Zabel and Yannick Eijssen did the early work for the American team and they got some assistance from Garmin-Sharp and Giant-Shimano as Thomas Dekker and Cheng Ji started to make a contribution. Inside the final 50km, they started to accelerate and with 55km to go, they had brought the gap down to 3.10.

 

The peloton slows down

As they approached the penultimate climb, BMC added more firepower to the chase as Martin Kohler also started to ride on the front and as they hit the ascent, the gap was down to just 1.25. While riders started to fall off the pace, the peloton slowed down completely, with Albert Timmer setting a steady pace on the front and when Golas led Kroon, Alaphilippe and Quintana over the top, the escapees had extended their advantage to 1.55.

 

Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) hit the front over the top to start the technical descent in the first position. He led the bunch all the way down while Golas managed to get clear of his breakaway companions by virtue of his great descending skills.

 

Timmer works hard

At the bottom, the Pole decided to wait for his chasers and the sextet again started to cooperate. Meanwhile, Timmer started to chase hard in the peloton while a big group with several Europcar riders managed to rejoin the peloton after having been dropped on the descent.

 

With 30km to go, BMC lent Giant-Shimano a hand as Eijssen and Zabel started to trade pulls with Timmer. Meanwhile, the escapees showed no interest in the final intermediate sprint, with Quintana leading Berard across the line.

 

The break splits up

With 25km to go, the gap was down to just 50 seconds and the cooperation in the break was no longer very good. Moments later, Alaphilippe fell off the pace and this improved the understanding in group which managed to keep the gap stable at around 40 seconds for quite a while.

 

In the peloton, Timmer was now the only rider doing the work but he managed to bring Alaphilippe back and again started to reduce the deficit. With 17km to go, the gap was only seconds and now the fight for position was fierce.

 

Hansen takes off

With 14km to go, Berard attacked and only Kroon and Golas could match his pace. The Giant riders had now been swamped by Belkin, Cannondale and Tinkoff-Saxo who had amassed the troops on the front.

 

Just before they hit the final climb, Pablo Lastras (Movistar) and Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ) attacked and they quickly bridged the gap to the front trio. Gert Dockx accelerated with his teammate Adam Hansen on his wheel and the Lotto pair briefly joined the front group before the Australian went straight past.

 

Arredondo makes his move

While Hansen got a nice gap, the rest of the attackers were caught. Julien Vermote (OPQS) and Julian Arredondo (Trek) took off in pursuit while lots of riders were dropped from the peloton.

 

Arredondo dropped Vermote and managed to rejoin Hansen less than 1km from the top. While Rory Sutherland (Tinkoff-Saxo) made an unsuccessful attack from the peloton, the Colombian led his companion over the top to head down the fast descent.

 

Betancur shows signs of life

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) hit the front and he brought the escapees back. Instead, Petr Vakoc (OPQS) took over and he managed to create a small advantage before being joined by Paul Martens (Belkin), Sergey Chernetskii (Katusha), Arredondo, Gilbert, Costa, Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), Impey and Pieter Serry (OPQS).

 

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) brought things back together and as they finished the descent, Carlos Betancur (Ag2r) took off. While Bernhard Eisel and Dario Cataldo started to chase for Sky, he got a small gap but soon decided to sit up.

 

Sky take control

He was passed by Bryan Nauleau but as Tobias Ludvigsson was now also chasing for Giant-Shimano, things came back together with less than 5km to go. Cataldo, Eisel and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) all took turns on the front while the sprint trains were fighting for position.

 

With less than 3km to go, Orica-GreenEDGE hit the front with Pieter Weening and he stayed in control until Mathew Hayman took over. Inside the final kilometre, Impey launched his lead-out, delivering Ewan in the perfect position, but it was Farrar who came fast from behind to take the win.

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