Mezgec Takes Stage 1 of Beijing Tour
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) has taken Stage 1 of the Tour of Beijing. Mezgec took a bunch sprint to win the hilly, 167-km ride from Chong Li to Zhangliakou in 4:22:58. Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) finished second, and Tyler Farrer (Garmin-Sharp) finished third.
Before the stage, Beijing’s smog was evident, so much so that some riders wore masks on their prerace rides. When the stage began, Jeremy Roy (FDJ.fr), Tosh Van de Sande (Lotto-Belisol), and Christophe Kern (Europcar) escaped. The trio led the field by nearly three minutes at 10 km, and the escapees’ lead maxed out at 8:15 at 50 km.
Sky paced the peloton for most of the day. Not far from the stage’s second intermediate sprint at 124 km, Roy dropped his companions. The bunch continued to close on the FDJ.fr man, and he was captured with 20 km left. A number of attacks took place, but the bunch, which Sky and Orica-GreenEdge led, reeled in the moves. Farrar started the sprint, but Mezgec and Ewan overtook the American.
The stage was at hilly and at altitude, which Mezgec found difficult. “I suffered today as it was constantly up and down and the race was at quite high altitude for a long time,” Mezgec said. “The team was strong in helping control early on and then keeping me in position when it was hard, keeping me fresher for the finish.
“The plan was to stick me in the right wheel at the front in the final few kilometres and this worked perfectly. It’s great to win again here in Beijing and hopefully we can continue this week with other opportunities for us. It will be hard to defend the overall in the next few days before the mountain stage but we will see tomorrow how it is.”
In the overall, Mezgec leads Ewan by 0:04 and Julian Kern (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by 0:05. Stage 2 will be a rolling, 147.5-km stage from Chong Li to Yanqing. It will probably end in a bunch sprint. Who will win? Mezgec? Ewan? Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!