Gilbert Takes Stage 2 of Beijing Tour, Leads Race
Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has won Stage 2 of the Tour of Beijing. The Belgian took an uphill sprint to win the hilly, 111-km ride from Chong Li to Yanqing in 2:29:02. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Giant-Shimano) finished second, and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) finished third. Gilbert is the new overall leader of the Beijing Tour.
Because of smog in the Beijing area, the stage was shortened from 147.5 km to 111 km. Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Laurent Mangel (FDJ.fr), Fabio Silvestre (Trek) and Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) made an early escape. Alaphilippe dropped back to the peloton, but the other three riders forged ahead. The bunch, which was led by Katusha, BMC, and Giant-Shimano, kept the escapees on a short leash, and they never led the field by much more than two minutes.
With 10 km left, the fugitives’ advantage was down to 0:45, and the Sky-led peloton reeled them in five km later. Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) jumped clear, but Sky led the pursuit that brought back the Italian.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) did strong leadout work on the Category 3 ascent to the finish. Van Rensburg made the first move with 100 m to go, but Gilbert came off of the South African’s wheel in the last 25 m to win.
"I was waiting because I knew in a finish like this that I am really strong," the former world road race champion said, "so I was just waiting for someone else to take the lead. I did not want to go first. So when Van Rensburg went, it was perfect. I think he wanted me to go on the inside and close me out. But I just went on the corner on the left. There was a lot of space and I didn't take any risks."
In the overall, Gilbert leads Van Rensburg by 0:05 and Costa by 0:07. Stage 3 will be a rugged, 176-km ride from Yanqing to Qianjiadian Chao Yang Temple. The stage will feature seven categorized climbs, including a Category 1 ascent about midway through the stage and a Category 3 climb that will summit 11 km from the finish. Who will win? Will Gilbert keep the race lead? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!