FDJ brought sprinter Nacer Bouhanni to the head of the peloton at the perfect time to give the 25-year-old Frenchman a clear shot to the finish line of Stage Two of the Tour of Beijing.
Bouhani crossed the finish line two feet ahead of Lampre’s Roberto Ferrari, with Orica GreenEdge’s Mitchell Docker on Ferrari’s wheel.
Bouhani finished with the same overall time as race leader Thor Hushovd, but since Bouhanni finished further ahead in Stage One than Hushovd did in Stage Two, the Frenchman was awarded the leader’s red jersey.
The lumpy 201-km stage started with a five-rider attack, which shrank to four and then to two—Lotto-Belisol’s Olivier Kaisen and Ag2R’s Mxime Bout—on the slopes of the stage’s fourth and final climb, 50 km from the finish.
Kaisen attacked with 30 km left as he saw Bouet was fading, but a single rider had no chance against the whole peloton, and Kaisen was caught inside of ten km of the finish.
With the field compact again, the sparring for control began. Omega Pharma-Quickstep took over from BMC, which had led most of the stage to protect Thor Hushovd. Argos also pushed to the front, and these two teams burned themselves out racing for control which they couldn’t maintain when it mattered.
Argosd and Omega fought past the two-km mark, when Orica made its move, but the Australian team couldn’t keep organized; while Jens Mouris opened a dozen-meter gasp on the peloton, sprinter Michael Matthews got mired in the pack.
Orica led into the final kilometer but without a sprinter it didn’t matter; then FDJ charged through the middle, with one rider leading Nacer Bouhanni.
FDJ had tried to take control in Stage One but started much to o early, and had entirely spent itself long before the finish. In Stage Two they timed it perfectly. The team used it riders to stay close while the other teams battled, then sent Bouhanni through.
Roberto Ferrari saw what was happening and latched onto Bouhanni’s wheel but couldn’t catch up. Bouhanni took both the stage and the overall lead.