Viviani powers in to grab stage one and leader’s jersey in Tour of Beijing
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Viviani powers in to grab stage one and leader’s jersey in Tour of Beijing

by Shane Stokes at 5:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Beijing
Italian triumphs after five-man break is hauled back

Elia VivianiRedisplaying the speed which has earned him several wins this year, Liquigas Cannondale sprinter Elia Viviani thundered home to grab the opening stage plus the first leader’s jersey in the Tour of Beijing.

The Italian sprinter was quickest in the big bunch dash to the line, beating Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil DCM) and the others. The result followed on from his stage four victory last year, and shows he’s ending the season in fine shape.

The 117 kilometre stage was defined by a five man break which went clear fourteen kilometres after the start and built a maximum lead of approximately two minutes. The bunch monitored the gap to ensure the gap didn’t grow too large, then brought them back with less than two laps remaining.

American rider Craig Lewis was the last to concede defeat, jumping away from the other four and remaining ahead until approximately twelve kilometres to go. The sprinters’ teams controlled things from that point, with the cooperation ensuring a mass gallop and, with that, Viviani’s win.

The Italian said afterwards that his team had a set tactic. Specifically, “to ride near the front no matter what, because on a circuit like this you’d use up a lot less energy.”

He described how the finish to the stage played out. “In the final, my teammates helped to get me into position. Then I took Boasson Hagen’s wheel in the last kilometre and I stayed cool. I managed to go at the right time and shake him off well in the last 250 metres.”

“I needed to win today because I was not really happy with my latest results,” he added, referring to a string of near misses. “I am happy about this. I now hope to win another stage.”

How it played out:

A total of 143 riders amassed at the start of the first leg of the Tour of Beijing, a 117 kilometre race from Tiananmen Square to Birds Nest Piazza. It comprised an initial opening stretch of 23.5 kilometres, then twelve laps of a 7.8 kilometre circuit.

Once they reached the first of those laps a group was already one minute 50 seconds clear, having attacked fourteen kilometres after the start. The five riders present were Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Matthieu Lagadnous (FDJ BigMat), Adriano Malori (Lampre), Bert Linderman (VCD) and Craig Lewis of the Champion System team. The gap dropped slightly but then increased to one minute 50 seconds with nine laps remaining.

Lagadnous picked up the first sprint ahead of Bandiera and the second ahead of Linderman, netting six bonus seconds towards his GC time. With four laps left, the group had one minute and six seconds, and this was further eroded to 33 seconds over the next eight kilometres.

The quintet went through two to go with twelve seconds and the bunch closed down soon afterwards. Just before the junction was made, Craig Lewis attacked and held on for another couple of kilometres. His task was an impossible one but it gave the Champion System squad additional TV time; important for any team, but crucial for a Chinese one.

The BMC Racing Team swept him up and drove towards the line but were soon passed by other squads seeking to set up their own sprinters. At the bell the bunch was all together crossing the finish line, making a bunch gallop more and more likely.

Astana, Rabobank, Garmin-Sharp, Omega Pharma Quick Step and Lampre ISD were just some of the teams which were trying their utmost to commandeer the front of the peloton. No one team was strong enough, though, and there was constant change at the helm.

Heading inside the final four kilometres, there was a renewed focus evident. Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) hit the front and lined out the bunch, the fellow time trialist Alex Dowsett (Sky) took over. His push saw him ride off the front, but he was gradually clawed back with one kilometre to go.

The leadout men pushed forward with sprinters in tow, then a wall of the fastest riders hit the front together. Elia Viviani (Liquigas Cannondale) emerged on the left hand side and pushed forward, reaching the line first and snagging the opening stage of the race.

He beat Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil DCM) and Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) to the line. Theo Bos (Rabobank), Enrique Sanz (Movistar) and Aidis Kroupis (Orica GreenEdge) were sixth through eighth.

Viviani will now wear the jersey heading into stage two, a 126 kilometre race from Bird’s Nest Piazza to Men Tou Gou Yong Ding River Cultural Square.

Tour of Beijing (WorldTour) stage 1, Tiananmen Square - Bird’s Nest Olympic Piazza:

1, Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) 117 kilometres in 2 hours 37 mins 49 secs
2, Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
3, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling)
4, Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
5, Gregory Henderson (Lotto-Belisol Team)
6, Theo Bos (Rabobank Cycling Team)
7, Enrique Sanz (Movistar Team)
8, idis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEdge Team)
9, Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD)
10, Klaas Lodewyck (BMC Racing Team) all same time


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