Tour of Beijing stage 4: Lucky 13 for Viviani in Liquigas one-two
October 8, 2011 1 Comment
The fourth – and longest – stage of the Tour of Beijing finished in a regulation sprint after a six-man escape had broken away from the peloton for most of the day. Up-and-coming Italian sprinter Elia Viviani led teammate Peter Sagan over the finish line for a Liquigas-Cannondale one-two at the end of a stage which skirted along a long section of the Great Wall to the north-east of the Chinese capital.
A standard break-chase-sprint stage
The day’s breakaway comprised six riders, with the most prominent name being Lampre’s former Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego. He was joined by Tiago Machado (RadioShack), Meiyin Wang (Chinese National Cycling), Julien Bérard (AG2R), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil) and Iljo Keisse (Quick Step). They built a maximum lead of five minutes, of which they retained about half that margin as they crossed the summit of the day’s third and final categorised climb at the Great Wall at Mutianyu with 43km remaining.
However, with both Garmin-Cervélo and the HTC-Highroad team of race leader Tony Martin providing manpower to fuel the chase, the leaders were easily reeled in on the long straight drag towards the finish at Shunyi. The catch was complete just inside 9km as the peloton ramped their speed up to a lively 60kph.
Sky did most of the heavy pulling on the front in the final kilometres, being supported first by Lampre and then Katusha, with Liquigas minding a watching brief behind them. Just before the kilometre flag, Saxo Bank surged up to the front in support of the Haedo brothers, only to be quickly overhauled by Sky.
Amidst all the jostling Liquigas timed their move perfectly, allowing Elia Viviani and Peter Sagan to make their way towards the front in the final 150 metres. It appeared that Viviani’s original purpose was to lead out Sagan, but as they were forced to weave around Movistar’s Enrique Sanz, who had started his sprint far too soon, the Slovakian appeared to lose his wheel and instead it was the Italian took the win. Sagan edged out J J Haedo for second. Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov was fourth, enough to move him to the top of the points classification.
Although it was the 13th victory of what has been a highly successful second professional season on both track and road for the 22-year old – including a win in the under-23 points race at the European Track Championship in July – it was his first WorldTour stage win. He was understandably delighted afterwards:
It is very good for me. It is my only second season as a pro. I am young and I can now hope for the sprints next season in the big races. It was a very fast sprint at the end of a very long stage.
With no categorised climbs tomorrow, Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) needs only to finish to confirm himself as King of the Mountains. And there was no change at the top of the general classification, where Tony Martin retains the 17-second lead he established over David Millar in the opening time trial.
Stage 5 preview
The final stage is a short 118km critérium starting in Tiananmen Square before a dozen 8km circuits ending back at the Bird’s Nest. The finish is flat and dead straight for the last 1,700m. Indeed, the only gradient of any note will be the climb Tony Martin has to make to the top step of the podium when he is confirmed as the overall winner, so expect a traditional high-speed hare-and-hounds chase culminating in a frenetic sprint.
Stage 4 result:
1. Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) 4:09:08
2. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) same time
3. J J Haedo (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s/t
4. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) s/t
5. Alexander Porsev (Katusha) s/t
1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 11:19:27
2. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:17
3. Chris Froome (Sky) +0:26
4. Steve Cummings (Sky) +0:35
5. Oliver Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +0:39
1. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) 26 pts
2. Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) 25
3. Chris Froome (Sky) 25
4. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) 21
5. Alexander Kristoff (BMC) 21
1. Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 22 pts
2. Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) 18
3. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) 17
4. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) 16
5. Tiago Machado (RadioShack) 16
Live coverage and highlights are being shown daily by British Eurosport in the UK.
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