Luka Mezgec sprints to stage five success as Benat Intxausti wraps up overall Tour of Beijing win

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Luka Mezgec sprints to stage five success as Benat Intxausti wraps up overall Tour of Beijing win

Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) outsprinted double stage winner Nacer Bouhanno (FDJ.fr) to clinch victory in the fifth and final stage of the Tour of Beijing as Benat Intxausti (Movistar) finished safely in the bunch to wrap up overall victory.

Mezgec benefitted from a well-timed lead-out from his Argos-Shimano team-mates, before finding the Frenchman’s wheel and passing him to end the season with his first race victory after a number of near-misses.

Luka Mezgec ended the year on a high with victory in the final stage of the Tour of Beijing (pic: Sirotti)

Intxausti, meanwhile, maintained his ten-second lead over second-placed Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) to ensure he took the red jersey, and become the first rider other than Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to win the Tour of Beijing.

David Lopez (Team Sky) also finished safely in the bunch to finish third overall, with world champion Rui Costa (Movistar) fourth – with Movistar’s performance meaning they leapfrogTeam Sky to end the season top of the WorldTour team rankings.

Intxausti suffered an early mechanical but the race leader was brought back to the bunch by team-mate Ivan Gutierrez. Movistar then moved to the front of the peloton before five riders went clear as bunch approached the circuit of the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), in their final professional race, formed the day’s break alongside Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol) and Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo-Tinkoff).

Pinotti started the day just 28 seconds behind Intxausti in the GC and the Italian veteran picked up a three-second bonus at the first intermediate sprint. Movistar remained unperturbed in the bunch, however, setting a steady pace as the five escapees were allowed to stay nearly two minutes clear, with Pinotti gaining a further second at the second sprint.

The third and final sprint, with three kilometres remaining, went uncontested as the long, strung out bunch began to close the gap behind the leaders.

Movistar were joined at the front by the sprint teams as the gap continued to fall and with the peloton breathing down their necks, Meier opted to attack solo.

World champion Costa continued to drive the bunch, with Cannondale, riding for Elia Viviani, FDJ.fr, for Nacer Bouhanni, and Lampre-Merida, for Roberto Ferrari, also bringing riders to the front of the peloton.

Meier’s attack amounted to little, and he was soon back with the original escapees before Pinotti dropped back into the bunch shortly after the break took the bell.

The race finally came back together as the sprint trains burst into action with five kilometres to go. Omega Pharma-Quickstep were first to show their hand, lining out at the head of the bunch to raise the pace.

Tony Martin, who won the first two editions of the Tour of Beijing, then launched a long-range attack as he sought to ensure his battle to make it three red jerseys in a row did not end without a fight.

The three-time world time trial champion earned himself a few seconds but Belkin brought riders forward to close the gap with three kilometres remaining.

Argos-Shimano and Omega Pharma-Quickstep led the peloton into the final kilometre, with the sprint teams jostling for position in a bid to setup their fast men for a final WorldTour victory of the season.

Bouhanni, wearing the green jersey, was first to launch his sprint, but Mezgec found his wheel to come round and secure victory.

Tour of Beijing 2013: stage five – result

1 Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Argos-Shimano in 2:23:56hrs
2 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ.fr same time
3 Moreno Hofland (NED) – Belkin
4 Matti Breschel (DEN) – Team Saxo-Tinkoff
5 Roberto Ferrari (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
6 Aleksei Tsatevich (RUS) – Katusha
7 Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
8 Rudiger Selig (GER) – Katusha
9 Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
10 Bernhard Eisel (AUS) – Sky Procycling

General classification

1 Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar in 19:35:46
2 Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp +10″
3 David Lopez (ESP) – Sky Procycling +13″
4 Rui Costa (ESP) – Movistar +18″
5 Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +24″
6 Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep same time
7 Jan Bakelants (BEL) – Radioshack-Leopard +26″
8 Robert Gesink (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling same time
9 Ivan Basso (ITA) – Cannondale
10 Garikoitz Bravo (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +31″

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