Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed his third top-10 finish in four stages at the Tour of Beijing after Marco Haller had outsprinted Alessandro Petacchi and Elia Viviani.
Boasson Hagen was right in the mix once again on the flat finish outside the Changping Stadium but became temporarily exposed as the race shifted across the road, and was then swamped at the line as Haller (Katusha) wrapped up his first professional win.
As expected for a sprint stage, there were no significant changes in the General Classification so Boasson Hagen remains in fourth place overall, 52 seconds behind race leader Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).
Dowsett makes the break
The penultimate day of action had seen the riders travel 165.5km from Yanqing and after numerous early attacks, Alex Dowsett managed to get himself into a five-man move who saw their advantage stretch out to six and a half minutes during the first 65km.
Jeremy Roy (FDJ) was part of that quintet but shed his accomplices on the descent of the day’s first climb and pressed on alone as the other escapees remained in tact.
Dowsett’s group would ultimately be caught in the last 15km, and Roy would only survive another 9km as several lead-out trains asserted their authority on the bunch.
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, Lampre and Orica-GreenEdge all took turns on the front as the race neared its conclusion, but as they passed under the Flamme Rouge Luke Rowe came to the fore and led out Boasson Hagen, who despite his hindrances, still managed to battle on for ninth place on the day.
It was Haller who was celebrating though, as the Austrian jumped out of Petacchi’s wheel and took his maiden victory ahead of the Lampre man and Liquigas rider Viviani.
After the stage, Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist was pleased that his riders had enlivened the race once again and insisted they would keep battling to the very end in China.
He told us: “It was very chaotic at the finish, and very fast. There were plenty of teams looking to take it on and our plan was to keep Edvald protected as much as possible and then bring him to the front at just the right moment. We knew there were some very fast sprinters in the bunch but we maybe delivered him a fraction too early in the end.
“Although Edvald’s always disappointed not to win, he was more relieved that he didn’t crash today because he made contact with Klaas Lodewyck on the line and did well to stay upright.
“I’m happy with our performance though. We worked hard to keep everything together before the first intermediate sprint and then Alex got in the move that was allowed to go up the road. He contributed at first but when we were sure it was going to come back together we told him to take it easy which allowed him to work more when he was back in the bunch.
“As for the race situation, we are all still motivated to produce a strong ride tomorrow because we don’t have a stage win yet and there’s still plenty to fight for in the overall standings.”