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Tour of Beijing stage 2: Haussler wins by a whisker

Stage 2: Bird’s Nest to Mentougou, 137km

Garmin-Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler just held on in the bunch sprint at Mentougou in a tight and scrappy finish on a relatively straightforward day for race leader Tony Martin and the other overall contenders. It was the Australian’s first win since his double at February’s Tour of Qatar, as he edged out Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) on the line.

A routine flat stage with a chaotic finish

De Gendt was the last surviving member of the break

Four riders broke away from the peloton early on. Spain’s Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was the most notable member of the break, and he was joined by Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), a stage winner at this year’s Paris-Nice, Dimitri Muravyev (RadioShack) and Kun Jiang of the Chinese national team. The quartet built a three-minute lead, with De Gendt claiming all four mountain primes and Jiang the three sprint intermediates.

With the peloton closing in for the kill De Gendt went alone with 15km to go. Although he was briefly joined by two other riders they were quickly swallowed up, setting up a tense final 10km run-in to a straight flat finish.

The HTC-Highroad squad of red jersey Tony Martin had done much of the early work controlling the chase, but in the closing kilometres the various sprinters’ teams jostled for position at the front of the peloton, maintaining a high speed to prevent any significant attacks. Rabobank, riding for their man Theo Bos, were never far from the head of affairs, with Liquigas, Saxo Bank, Garmin-Cervélo, Quick Step, Leopard-Trek, Sky and Katusha all making appearances on behalf of Peter Sagan, J J Haedo, Haussler, Francesco Chicchi, Giacomo Nizzolo, Davide Appollonio and Galimzyanov respectively.

Haussler barely held on for his first win in 8 months (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Under the 1km banner Leopard-Trek jumped to the front but, as has so often been the case this year, they were quickly swallowed up by other teams in the charge to the line. With no one team controlling the pace line and a stiff headwind to contend with, the peloton was more bunched up on the wide finishing straight than ideal.

In a scrappy finale Haussler found a perfect lead-out in Sky’s Appollonio, who kicked at 300 metres – far too early to have any hopes of sustaining into the wind. The Australian, sitting in second wheel, was ideally placed to open up the sprint, although he was forced to lunge desperately for the line as Galimzyanov hauled him in over the final 100 metres. Bos was third after starting his final acceleration too far back.

A photo finish was required to confirm Haussler as the winner by no more than a couple of centimetres. It was enough.

Haussler was delighted to notch a win after a season plagued by injury and illness in which he missed the Tour de France and lacked the form to manage a single top 20 finish throughout the Vuelta:

It’s a nice way to end the season with a stage win. The whole year’s been up and down and hasn’t gone the way I wanted. I came out of the Vuelta strong and had a good World’s ride, so I came here with good legs.

I was in something like 60th position with 2km to go. Summie [Johan Van Summeren] and David [Millar] did a great job putting me in good position. Appollonio went with 300 meters to go, but that was heaps too early against the wind. The Katusha guy came behind me. It was really, really close.

Stage 3 preview

Friday’s third stage is the one big opportunity for the climbers to force the issue and stake a claim for the overall win. Heading north to Yongning, the peloton will climb to over 800 metres above sea level and tackle three first category mountains, with the last two coming in the final 30km.

Two climbs in the Xi mountains should encourage early attacks, with a fast descent after the first sprint point providing a further opportunity for the adventurous. The final climb of Erpuliang tops out at 758 metres and leads to a frenetic 12km descent to the finish which may play to a breakaway’s advantage, although most of the final 6km is flat and straight. Watch for concerted attacks in the final 20km as Martin’s rivals look to put pressure on him. Whoever is in red at the end of this stage will almost certainly win the general classification on Sunday.

Stage 3 profile

Stage 2 result:

1. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) 3:03:30

2. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) same time

3. Theo Bos (Rabobank) s/t

4. Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) s/t

5. Alexander Kristoff (BMC) s/t

General classification:

1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 3:17:03

2. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:17

3. Alex Dowsett (Sky) +0:24

4. Chris Froome (Sky) +0:26

5. Steve Cummings (Sky) +0:35

Points classification:

1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 15 pts

2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) 15

3. Kun Jiang (Chinese National Cycling Team) 15

4. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) 14

5. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) 14

Live coverage and highlights will be shown daily by British Eurosport in the UK.

Tour of Beijing posts

Preview

Stage 1: World champion Martin dominates against the clock

Links: Official Tour of Beijing website, steephill.tv

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

6 Responses to Tour of Beijing stage 2: Haussler wins by a whisker

  1. Thanks Tim. I’m not sure they’ll be covering the cycling on TV in Thailand, so I’m relying on you once again. I hope to get some bike riding in there, too, but meanwhile it’s nice to bask in some more reflected Aussie glory.

    • Tim says:

      No problem, Richard. Eurosport have their usual thorough coverage, and the time difference makes it much easier to post my thoughts same-day. Happy for Haussler – what with all his injuries over the past couple of years he has had a rough time of things.

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