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Thor Hushovd won the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing Friday and took the overall lead while earning the BMC Racing Team its 30th victory of the season.

Photo: A.S.O. / S. Boué

BMC RACING TEAM

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THOR HUSHOVD

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TOUR OF BEIJING

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11.10.2013 @ 15:45 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

The Norwegian national road champion burst up the inside at the end of the 190.5-kilometre race to edge runner-up Luka Mezgec (Team Argos-Shimano) and third-placed Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). The victory was Hushovd's eighth of the season and marks the third time this year he has pulled on the leader's jersey at a stage race.

 

"First of all, I am really happy with the job the team did," Hushovd said. "I think everybody knew it was going to be a bunch sprint. So when there were 20 kilometres to go and we saw the breakaway still had more than a two-minute gap, we put some guys in the front to close it back. So, thanks to the guys today." Marco Pinotti, Steve Cummings and Mathias Frank were among the BMC Racing Team riders who contributed to the chase of the last rider of an original four-man escape that once held a nine-minute advantage.

BMC Racing Team's Marcus Burghardt said the final moments of the race were "a little bit messy" as he tried to keep Hushovd near the front. "In the last kilometre, I almost cracked it a little bit, because I thought he was on my left. I went out to the right and then we got a little bit squeezed back," he said. "But then he made a good move back to the front to take it at the last moment." Assistant Director Max Sciandri said he hopes the BMC Racing Team can hold the overall lead as long as possible. "I'd like us to keep it within the team, of course," he said. "There is a hard day tomorrow to get over some climbs. Hopefully the jersey will give Thor good morale, because it could be a smaller-size sprint tomorrow. Then we have two really hard days. So the jersey might switch to one of our riders."

 

Thanks to time bonuses, Hushovd leads the race by three seconds with four stages to go. He also owns the lead in the points classification.

Hushovd's eight wins mark his most prolific victory total since the 2004 season, when he won 10 races. In February, Hushovd led the Tour du Haut Var after winning that race's opening stage. He earned the overall title at the Arctic Race of Norway in August by winning two stages – including the last one. He won a pair of stages at the Tour de Pologne in July, one at the Tour of Austria the same month, and his national road title was won at the end of June.

 

"I started off quite well and then I had some ups and downs," Hushovd said. "When I first started going so well at nationals, I had a lot of wins. In the end, I am really happy with my season."

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