BEIJING (AFP) — Spain’s Benat Intxausti launched a dominant attack on the long final climb of the day to win the fourth stage of the Tour of Beijing Monday and seize the leader’s red jersey.
The Movistar rider made his move just over two kilometers from the finish in Mentougou, in the hills northwest of the Chinese capital.
With some of the race’s top contenders, including world champion Rui Costa (Movistar) of Portugal and two-time winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) of Germany, in the chasing group, Intxausti had to put in everything, grimacing with effort and regularly glancing behind.
It was Ireland’s Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) who mounted the most effective counter-attack, and looked for a time as though he could reel in the Spaniard — but the 27-year-old Intxausti held on to cross the line three seconds ahead.
With a 10-second time bonus for winning the 150.5km stage, the win sent Intxausti straight to the top of the overall classification, holding a virtually unassailable 10-second lead on Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) with only the flat final stage in Beijing to go.
“I am really happy this is my first win since the Giro, because the Vuelta didn’t go really well. I am now ending the season very well,” Intxausti said in a statement.
He said he was dedicating his win to friend and former teammate Xavier Tondo, who died after being crushed by a garage door in 2011. Intxausti was with him at the time of the accident.
The team plan had been to put both Costa and himself in contention on the final climb, Intxausti said.
“Yes at the start of the day the plan was for Rui Costa and for me, so we had both options. In the last two kilometers, I tried to attack so that I could win the stage,” Intxausti said. “Also, we worked hard to take the bonifications, because they were also important.
“It was a very close finish; I could see Daniel Martin was very close to me. I went full gas to the end so I could raise my hands with enough time.”
The other placings also mirrored the stage result, with Intxausti’s countryman David Lopez (Sky) in third, Costa fourth, and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in fifth.
Tony Martin, the London Olympics silver medalist who won the first two editions of the Tour of Beijing, stood sixth.