Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) sprinted to his second consecutive stage victory at the 2013 Tour of Beijing to extend his overall lead in the season’s final WorldTour race.
The 23-year-old Frenchman profited from some excellent work on the rolling parcours from his team-mates, as they drove the bunch for much of the day to ensure a third consecutive sprint finish.
And once presented with the opportunity, Bouhanni took full advantage by coming from behind Cannondale’s Elia Viviani and steaming down the left-hand side of the road to victory.
It followed his stage two victory the previous day, while Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Aleksei Tsatevich (Katusha) shared the podium after also beating Viviani to the line.
Defending back-to-back champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had earlier tried his luck on the final, pacey descent in much the same way he did in winning stage two in Beijing last year.
However the work of Bouhanni’s team-mates ensured neither Martin’s attack nor an earlier one by world champion Rui Costa and his Movistar team came to anything.
Earlier in the day it was announced stage one winner Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) had been forced to abandon due to his daughter being taken ill at home.
With seven categorised climbs to negotiate, there was no shortage of attacks early in the day as riders battled to earn King of the Mountains points.
It took until the 17km mark for the break to finally stick however after Costa had earlier taken a one-second bonus by crossing the first intermediate sprint third, behind Matthews and Matti Breschel (Team Saxo-Tinkoff).
Six riders eventually went clear, with Albert Timmer (Argos-Shimano), Marc Goos (Belkin), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Hayden Roulston (RadioShack-Leopard) and Wes Sulzberger (Orica-GreenEDGE) charging up the road.
Caruso and Sulzberger proceeded to battle it out for the polka dot jersey from there on, with the Cannondale man crossing all bar the category one summit of Si Hai first, with the Australian prevailing on the other.
The climb also marked a ‘Panda of the Mountain’ competition, 100m down the road from the bunch, which Roulston ‘won’ but there was a sense of deja-vu when the bunch crossed later as Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) led the peloton over with a man dressed as a panda chasing him, as had been the case when the Irishman won Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier this year.
Up front the break reached a maximum advantage of nearly four minutes, but FDJ.fr and Omega Pharma-QuickStep kept the pace of the peloton high throughout.
Costa also took a big shift on the front, leading the way in his rainbow jersey as the gap tumbled and it soon became apparent why as he attacked on the final descent, first with his team-mates and then in pursuit of Tony Martin.
However, with the race coming back together, there was to be no stopping Bouhanni, who increased his GC lead to 11 seconds over second-placed Michael Matthews.
Tour of Beijing 2013: stage three – result
1 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ.fr in 4:08:15hrs
2 Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE same time
3 Aleksei Tsatevich (RUS) – Katusha
4 Elia Viviani (ITA) – Cannondale
5 Martin Kohler (SUI) – BMC Racing
6 Borut Bozic (SVN) – Astana
7 Tosh Van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
8 Jesus Harreda (ESP) – Movistar
9 Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
10 Matti Breschel (DEN) – Team Saxo-Tinkoff
1 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ.fr in 13:28:18hrs
2 Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE +11”
3 Maxime Bouet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale same time
4 Aleksei Tsatevich (RUS) – Katusha +16”
5 Nikolas Maes (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep same time
6 Matti Breschel (DEN) – Team Saxo-Tinkoff +18”
7 Rui Costa (POR) – Movistar +19”
8 Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar same time
9 Ryota Nishizono (JAP) – Champion Systems
10 Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Omega-Pharma Quickstep +20”