Tour of Beijing stage 5: Galimzyanov secures breakthrough victory, Martin wins overall
October 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov comfortably won the bunch sprint outside the Bird’s Nest Stadium to cement victory in the points classification at the inaugural Tour of Beijing. Meanwhile Tony Martin finished safely in the pack to seal victory in the final major stage race for the soon-to-be-dissolved HTC-Highroad team, having led after each of the race’s five days.
Galimzyanov jumps the Liquigas train
The final stage consisted of a short 18km run starting in Tiananmen Square before a dozen 8km circuits, with the finishing line outside the Bird’s Nest National Stadium.
The inevitable breakaway comprised three riders: Moldovan national champion Alexandre Pliuschin (Katusha), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Francesco Reda (Quick Step). They led by nearly two minutes at one stage, with Pliuschin claiming all three intermediate sprints to protect teammate Denis Galimzyanov‘s standing in the green jersey, before the inevitable acceleration by the peloton pulled them back just after the start of the penultimate lap.
As the sprinters’ teams jostled for position on the final lap, first Quick Step then Saxo Bank-Sungard took over the pace-setting, with Omega Pharma-Lotto and AG2R also taking turns at the front. But inside the kilometre banner it was Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar, Saxo Bank and a four-man Liquigas train who assumed control. Liquigas’ Peter Sagan hit the front with 250 metres to go to lead out yesterday’s winner Elia Viviani, but Galimzyanov was perfectly positioned to jump out of his wheel and sweep around the Italian youngster to take an easy win by 1½ bike lengths. Viviani was pipped to second by Saxo Bank’s J J Haedo.
Victory confirmed Galimzyanov as the winner of the points competition, while Martin cruised over in the main bunch to confirm the 17-second advantage over Millar which he had held ever since the opening time trial. Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Igor Antón had already claimed the King of the Mountains competition.
It has been a good season for the 24-year old Russian, who can also boast a stage win at the Tour of Luxembourg and victory in last month’s Paris-Brussels one-day race. He was pleased to have won the points competition, although he placed a higher value on his first WorldTour stage victory:
Of course I am very, very happy because this is my first victory on the pro tour. I needed the team to bring me to the last kilometre in a good position and they did it. I am happy about the jersey of course, but I am happier about the stage.
For overall winner Martin it was a great finish to a year which has seen him emerge as a genuine challenger to Fabian Cancellara for the mantle of the world’s best time-trialist. The 26-year old, who is joining Quick Step next season, added this race to his win at Paris-Nice to book-end a remarkable season in which he won the individual time trials at the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and World Championships. He said:
It’s been a fantastic year and now a fantastic week for me. It’s really nice to have a victory and makes me so proud to win the first race here. But we had a very strong team that was pulling the whole time and I have to thank them for the win. The whole team was magnificent.
A qualified success
Overall, despite issues with crowd access (particularly for sections in central Beijing) and the omnipresent smog, the Tour of Beijing went off fairly well for an inaugural event. By all accounts it was smoothly run and produced a varied and unusual mix of stage winners, a consequence of its late-season timing which reflects different riders’ varying form and motivations, and also a need for lower-ranked teams such as AG2R to grab vital WorldTour ranking points.
The single biggest improvement to the race, however, would be to make some minor adjustments to the parcours. A five-day event is always going to hinge on a small number of pivotal moments, but this race was effectively settled the moment Martin won the opening time trial. Three of the four road stages were flat enough to all but guarantee bunch finishes, with the evenness of the terrain supplemented by long, straight and wide finishes on well-maintained road surfaces which always played against any breakaways. Sprint finishes are fine, but when all three lacked any kind of technical challenge in terms of corners or gradients in their closing kilometres, it all became a bit samey.
Stage three’s mountains were certainly difficult enough to cause a selection, but a 12km descent from the final climb of the day somewhat neutered their impact. Planning the course to have one mountain summit finish and perhaps one with either a closing hill or an uphill sprint – perhaps a showcase stage ending at the Great Wall? – would make the race more of an all-round challenge.
However, as inaugural events go, this was pretty decent – even if the long-haul logistics were less than attractive for teams and riders.
Stage 5 result:
1. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) 2:19:44
2. J J Haedo (Saxo Bank-Sungard) same time
3. Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) s/t
4. Matteo Trentin (Quick Step) s/t
5. Davide Appollonio (Sky) s/t
1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 13:39:11
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) 41 pts
2. Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) 39
3. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) 30
4. Alexander Kristoff (BMC) 28
5. J J Haedo (Saxo Bank-Sungard) 27
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
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