10/16/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Tour of Beijing: Intxausti wins overall
October 15, Stage 5: Tian an men Square - Bird’s Nest Piazza 117km
Mezgec beats Bouhanni in final Beijing sprint
Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) got the victory he has been chasing all season on the last day of the Tour of Beijing, beating Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) and Moreno Hofland (Belkin) in a high-speed sprint in the shadows of the Bird's nest Olympic stadium in Beijing.
Spain's Benat Intxausti (Movistar) finished safely in the peloton and so won the overall classification after setting up victory by taking the stage four mountain finish on Monday. Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) finished 10 seconds behind, with David Lopez (Team Sky) third at 13. New world champion Rui Costa (Movistar) was fourth overall at 18 seconds.
Intxausti impressed with a stage victory and a day in the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia this season but had a disappointing Vuelta a Espana, finishing 87th. His win helped Movistar secure the number one spot in the UCI WorldTour rankings ahead of Team Sky.
"I'm really happy to end the season with a win. It's a good win for me and for the team. I have to thank my teammates for all the hard work they did to help me win," Intxausti said, looking forward to a well-deserved end of season holiday.
"We're going to celebrate tonight and then we've got the long voyage home. After that it's time to rest up and enjoy a long holiday."
First win of the season for Mezgec
Mezgec is probably wishing it was the start of the season rather than the end. His sprint victory was his first in the WorldTour and also his first of the season after a long series of placings in sprints.
He and his Argos-Shimano team produced a perfect leadout at the end of the short stage. Earlier they had helped chased down the break of the day.
Retirees Marco Pinotti (BMC) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) were both in the move and were jointly awarded the most aggressive rider prize. Also in the move were Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol), Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge) and Manuele Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Pinotti became virtual race leader at one point but the peloton kept the break under control and the break faded as the final 7.8km finishing circuit began.
World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) briefly upset the plans of the sprinters and perhaps scared Intxausti with a solo attack. He got a gap and was only 24 seconds behind in the general classification. However the Belkin team dug deep to bring him back and set up the sprint finish.
Argos-Shimano and FDJ.fr dueled in the final corners to control the sprint in the final three kilometres. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Belkin hit the front late on but Bouhanni was perfectly placed and hit out early. However it was a little too early and Mezgec was on his wheel. The two went clear in the final 100 metres and Mezgec managed to find the extra power and speed to beat the Frenchman and take his first WorldTour win. He caressed his jersey and kissed his hand in celebration before hugging and thanking his teammates for their support.
"I've been waiting a long time for this and it's finally happened," he said.
"The first stage was really close and so knew I could win. It's happened on the last day of season and in the WorldTour. All the guys worked hard and we've got nice results as a team with Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb too. It's nice to finish the season in a good way. I was dreaming about my holidays for the whole race, so I'm looking forward to enjoying them."
Luka Mezgec (Argos Shimano)
Photo credit © Roberto Bettini
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