Italy’s Elia Viviani of Liquigas dominated a bunch sprint to win the fourth stage of the Tour of Beijing yesterday.
Viviani finished the 189.5km ride ahead of teammate Peter Sagan of Slovakia, with Argentina’s Juan Jose Haedo of Saxo Bank in third place.
Germany’s Tony Martin (HTC) retained the race leader’s red jersey going into today’s final stage, which is appearing on the elite WorldTour calendar for the first time.
Liquigas had worked tirelessly on the opening stage of the race, but in vain as a late surge by Australian Heinrich Haussler (Garmin) left Viviani in sixth place.
Yesterday, the Italian outfit made similar efforts, but got their timing right in placing both Sagan and Viviani among the four men they had driving the peloton over the final kilometers.
Liquigas’s pace-setting went unrivaled, and in the end 22-year-old Viviani came off Sagan’s wheel to claim a deserved win.
“We’d agreed that Peter would set me up for the sprint and I came off his wheel with 150m to go,” said Viviani, who thus claimed his eighth victory of the season.
Amid a season which has been largely fruitless for many compatriots, Viviani’s win gives a much needed boost to the Italians.
It also underlined the fact that he could be their sole Olympic representative at the velodrome in London next year, if he decides to compete in the omnium event.
“I don’t know what I’ll do at the Games because the road race still interests me,” the Italian said. “But I may decide to give priority to the track.”
Martin, who took the overall lead thanks to victory in the opening time trial on Wednesday, now has today’s ride from Tiananmen Square to Olympic Park — via 12 laps of a circuit — to get through before sealing the red jersey.
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