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Movistar scores 167 points by virtue of strong performances from Intxausti and Costa and so closes 118-deficit in the WorldTour rankings

Photo: Sirotti














14.10.2013 @ 14:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sky Procycling has been leading the WorldTour teams classification since the end of Paris-Nice in early March but may have lost their position in the final race of the season. Unless something unexpected happens in tomorrow's flat stage in Beijing, Movistar will take over the lead by virtue of strong performances of Benat Intxausti and Rui Costa.


Sky Procycling was only placed 4th in the first WorldTour ranking after the season-opening Tour Down Under but since Richie Porte won Paris-Nice in early March, the British team has been firmly positioned at the top of the global ranking. A big lead has made most people believe that the win in the season-long competition was guaranteed but the team may have missed out on the honour of being the strongest team in the final race of the season.


Apparently, team management knew that a strong performance by 2nd placed Movistar in the Tour of Beijing would be enough to dispose them from their lead and so they asked one of their aces Richie Porte to travel all the way to the far east in an attempt to score a few extra points. The Australian admitted to Cyclingnews earlier this week that he was in China due to a team request and that his form was uncertain.


The Australian was not up for the challenge and lost more than 17 minutes yesterday before abandoning on today's queen stage. Hence, the team could only hope that Movistar would not score enough to close the gap of 118 points.


However, the Spanish team performed brilliantly in today's queen stage as Benat Intxausti won the stage and Rui Costa finished 4th. They hold the same positions on GC and as tomorrow's flat final stage is not expected to produce any change, that's likely to be the final outcome as well.


If that's the case, the team will score 167 points from their stage and GC results which will solidly place them in the first position in the WorldTour ranking. Only a disaster can change the fact that Movistar will be crowned the strongest team of the season.


Actually, Sky featured prominently in today's stage as Josh Edmondson and Joe Dombrowski both rode aggressively on the final climb before usual luxury domestique David Lopez used a rare opportunity to ride for himself to take 3rd and move into the same place on GC. If Lopez keeps that position tomorrow, he will score 72 points which at a first glance should be enough for Sky to keep their lead in the WorldTour rankings.


However, only the world team time trial championships and the 5 best riders on the individual rankings from each team count in the teams ranking. For Sky, those riders are Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Sergio Henao, Rigoberto Uran and Geraint Thomas and the 72 points won't be enough to put Lopez into consideration. That was the reason for Sky to ask Porte to ride in Beijing. On the other hand, Costa and Intxausti are both among Movistar's 5 best riders and so their points will count in the teams rankings.


Despite the lost position at the top of the hierarchy, sports director Marcus Ljungqvist had only praise for his riders.


"To see Joe and Josh both so prominent in a WorldTour race like this showed the progress they've made and it's easy to forget sometimes that they are neo-pros," he said on the Sky website. "They will have learnt a lot from today and that will obviously bode well for the future.


"As for David, he's been feeling good this week and has been waiting for today's stage to come around. The way he was able to turn it on again once Intxausti had gone was really impressive and to hold off Costa in the form he's in at the moment was no mean feat."

The team hasn't brought a sprinter to Beijing and so has no big chance to mix it up with the best tomorrow. Nonetheless, Ljungqvist hopes that Mathew Hayman will create a surprise in his final race with Sky before he joins Orica-GreenEDGE for next season.


"It's going to be very hard to do something given the quality of the sprinters there are here this year but Bernie [Eisel] and Mat [Hayman] will have a free role to get themselves in contention, and it would be perfect if Mat could round off his Team Sky career with a victory," he said.


Starting at 8.30 CEST, you can follow the stage on



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