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Haller Earns First Pro Win in Tour of Beijing Stage Four

By Chris Jasurek
Epoch Times Staff
Created: October 12, 2012 Last Updated: October 17, 2012
Related articles: Sports » Cycling
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Marco Haller of Katusha beats the veteran sprinters to earn his first win as a professional in Stage Four of the 2012 Tour of Beijing. (Graham Watson/tourofbeijing.net)

Marco Haller of Katusha beats the veteran sprinters to earn his first win as a professional in Stage Four of the 2012 Tour of Beijing. (Graham Watson/tourofbeijing.net)

Marco Haller of Katusha surprised everyone, including himself, by beating the top sprinters in the race to win Stage Four of the 2012 Tour of Beijing. It was Haller’s first win as a professional.

The 21-year-old Austrian rider benefited from bad tactics by the other teams: several powerful sprinters’ teams tried to set up leadout trains on the wide, flat roads leading to the finish line, but all of them misjudged the pace and distance, and came up short.

Most of the sprinters were left on their own 500 meters from the finish, twice as far as they would normally sprint. After the scorching speed of the final few kilometers, the pace dropped slightly as no one could figure out quite what to do. The sprint started too far out; this led to some big names burning out before the finish line.

Lampre’s veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi started the sprint, heading along the left-hand barrier while Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, who was looking around for teammates, took off on the right, with Elia Viviani of Liquigas on the far right. Haller wisely tucked in behind Petacchi, and used “Ale-jet” as a leadout rider.

Boasson Hagen burned too much energy too soon, and ended up in a shoving match with BMC’s Klaas Lodewyck in the second row, while RadioShack’s Daniele Bennati passed on the right and cut in front of the battling pair.

Haller waited, then saw a hole appear as Boasson Hagen and Lodewyck slowed. The young Katusha sprinter dove through the opening and exploded past Petacchi to win by four feet. Viviani showed great strength in seizing third. Lodewyck and Boasson Hagen ended up seventh and ninth for all their jostling.

 “I didn’t expect to win against guys like Petacchi, Viviani and Edvald Boasson Hagen, but I wasn’t afraid of them either,” Haller told Cyclingnews.

“It was a very chaotic final kilometer, but I had some strong guys around me who managed to move me up in the finishing straight. Petacchi started his sprint early and I just came onto his wheel and when I was there, I had no big troubles to pass him. It was a great feeling to cross the line in front.”

Petacchi told Cyclingnews he lost out because he was overeager: “I was feeling good, so I went from 300 meters, but that was too early—maybe I wanted the win too much.”

Stage Four was flat for the first 120 kilometers, then ascended a trio of Cat 3 hills with a long descent to the finish line. The descent made it almost certain that the stage would end in a sprint; the power of the peloton would outmatch any breakaway.

The five breakaway riders (L-R): Jérémy Roy (FDJ-Big Mat,) Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp,) Alex Dowsett (Sky,) Timofey Kritskiy (Katusha,) and Mitchell Docker (Orica GreenEdge,) got a gap of over five minutes approaching the Cat 3 climbs, but got caught before the finish. (Graham Watson/tourofbeijing.net)

The five breakaway riders (L-R): Jérémy Roy (FDJ-Big Mat,) Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp,) Alex Dowsett (Sky,) Timofey Kritskiy (Katusha,) and Mitchell Docker (Orica GreenEdge,) got a gap of over five minutes approaching the Cat 3 climbs, but got caught before the finish. (Graham Watson/tourofbeijing.net)

Of course, a breakaway did form. Five riders: Jérémy Roy (FDJ-Big Mat,) Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp,) Alex Dowsett (Sky,) Timofey Kritskiy (Katusha,) and Mitchell Docker (Orica GreenEdge,) opened a gap of almost five minutes from the peloton before the first of the climbs.

FDJ’s Jérémy Roy apparently decided that he didn’t want to contest the finish with a group of any size; he set out alone on the first climb and rode forty miles solo before being caught six km from the finish. It was a great effort, but doomed; the sprinters’ teams wanted this one for themselves.

The final several kilometers were a four- and five-lane drag race as different teams tried to set up their leadout trains. Rabobank’s Theo Bos never managed to get onto his teammates wheels; Lampre, BMC, Sky, BMC, and Omega all formed lines but accelerated too quickly.

Race leader Tony Martin served as final leadout for Omega’s sprinter Francesco Cicchi, but like the other teams, Omega ran out of riders too soon. Cicchi was exhausted before he reached the finish line.

Stage Five, the final stage of the race, is the longest, 183 km from Changping Stadium to Ping Gu’s Century Square. The stage includes four categorized climbs; a Cat 2, a Cat3, another Cat 2, and finally a cat 1 30 km from the finish.

This climb, 5.4 km at 5.9 percent grade, is almost a continuation of the previous Cat 2 (3.1 km at 6.7 percent.) If any rider plans to move up in the General Classification, this would be the spot, but likely, with the steep descent and then a downhill slope to the finish, no rider will be able to stay away; expect another bunch finish (though the sprinters might not be around for this one.)

Barring misfortune, Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s Tony Martin looks to repeat as the Tour of Beijing winner.

Tour of Beijing Stage Four

 

rider

team

time

1

Marco Haller

  Katusha

 3:35:39

2

Alessandro Petacchi

  Lampre-ISD

 

3

Elia Viviani

  Liquigas-Cannondale

 

4

Lucas Sebastian Haedo

  Saxo-Tinkoff

 

5

Daniele Bennati

  RadioShack-Nissan

 

6

Francesco Chicchi

  Omega Pharma-Quickstep

 

7

Klaas Lodewyck

  BMC

 

8

Allan Davis

  Orica GreenEdge

 

9

Edvald Boasson Hagen

  Sky

 

10

Dominique Rollin

  FDJ-Big

 

General Classification after Stage 4

 

rider

team

time

1

Tony Martin

  Omega Pharma-Quickstep

13:11:31

2

Francesco Gavazzi

  Astana

0:00:40

3

Daniel Martin

  Garmin-Sharp

0:00:50

4

Edvald Boasson Hagen

  Sky

0:00:52

5

Eros Capecchi

  Liquigas-Cannondale

 

6

Rinaldo Nocentini

  AG2R

0:00:56

7

Tomasz Marczynski

  Vacansoleil-DCM

 

8

Rafal Majka

  Saxo-Tinkoff

 

9

Rui Costa

  Movistar

0:01:00

10

Tim Wellens

  Lotto Belisol

 

 

 




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