Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) edged out British neo-pro Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to win stage one of the Tour of Beijing.
The Italian slipped through a gap on the left side of the road before outsprinting Fenn and Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“In the final, my team-mates helped to get me into position,” said Viviani. “Then I took Boasson Hagen’s wheel in the last kilometre and I stayed cool on his wheel. I managed to go at the right time and shake him off well in the last 250m.
“I needed to win because I have not been really happy with my latest results.”
Five riders – Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Matthieu Lagadnous (FDJ-Big Mat), Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Craig Lewis (Champion System) – formed the day’s break early on the 117km stage.
After a short ride from Tiananmen Square to the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, the escapees began the first of 12 laps of an eight kilometre circuit and soon opened up an advantage of two minutes.
But, with Orica-GreenEDGE and Rabobank leading the chase, the quintet was reeled in, with Lewis the final breakaway rider to be caught.
Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett surged off the front in the closing kilometres but was soon brought back and that setup the bunch sprint, with Viviani claiming victory ahead of Fenn, who has enjoyed an impressive debut season after two early-season wins.
Stage two heads into the hills for a 126km ride with five categorised climbs but a 50km downhill run to the finish should mean the day’s action results in a bunch sprint.
Tour of Beijing stage one – result
1) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale 2:37:49 hours
2) Andrew Fenn (GBR) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky
4) Kenny Robert Van Hummel (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
5) Greg Henderson (NZL) – Lotto-Belisol
6) Theo Bos (NED) – Rabobank
7) Enrique Sanz (SPA) – Movistar
8) Aidis Kruopis (LTU) – Orica-GreenEDGE
9) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Lampre-ISD
10) Klaas Lodewyck (BEL) – BMC Racing