Edvald Boasson Hagen retained fourth overall following a tough and selective stage two at the Tour of Beijing.
The Norwegian was able to make his way into a decisive split in the bunch on the first climb of the day as distinct groups formed across the mountainous parcours.
With numerous attacks ahead of the final climb Boasson Hagen held on to finish in a chase group 50 seconds down on the stage winner, enough to maintain his GC position.
Up front it was Tony Martin who put himself in the box seat to defend his Tour of Beijing title with a magnificent solo victory.
The German (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) attacked over the top of the final climb and held off his rivals for upwards on 20 kilometres to take the victory by 46 seconds on the chasing pack.
Seven riders gave chase following the second category ascent, Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) getting the best of the bunch sprint ahead of Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale) into Mentougou.
A short, reduced-length stage saw attacking from the very start, with the race splitting to pieces on the opening first category climb.
Salvatore Puccio also put in a strong ride to finish in the third group on the road after an impressive first season of racing.
Kicking off at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, scene of Tuesday’s opening sprint finish, 126km lay in front of the riders as the race went in search of climbs.
Five riders combined to go clear early on, making up 3:15 on the bunch, yet surprisingly the gap plummeted as the race hit the first climb of the day.
The first category ascent split the peloton to pieces, a select group heading clear with Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Tony Martin the most prominent names to hit out and open up a gap.
With both Martin’s reeled in the lead group were motivated to keep their gap to the group behind, Euskaltel-Euskadi and AG2R La Mondiale pushing the pace onwards to peg the margin at around the 1:30 mark.
With a sizeable group still together there were a number of attacks in a bid to shake things up on the final second category climb up to Dong Fang Hong Tunnel.
Tony Martin attacked out of the darkness, plummeting down the descent to remain clear for his first non-time trial stage victory for two and a half years.
In the mix
After the stage we caught up with Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist who admitted the stage had been a tough one, but praised the ride of Boasson Hagen.
“I can imagine the stage looked good on TV today but it was maybe not that good for us," he admitted.
"We did what we could. Edvald did a brave ride but at the end of the day there were a couple of guys who had stronger legs. Chapeau to Tony Martin. We knew he was strong coming in and today he proved that.
“Maybe some of the riders in that chase group could have done a better job working together with Edvald to bring it back. The guys that went away went clear on a really hard part on the last climb.
“But the race is not over yet. There are three days to go, some more climbs and Edvald is right in the mix in fourth. The spirit is high in the team so we will see what we can do.”