Mountain-top victory for Dan Martin in Tour of Beijing

Attack by Garmin-Sharp team-mate on final climb allows Irish rider to pounce

Dan Martin continued his excellent end of season campaign with what was his second victory in less tan 10 days today. The Irish professional cyclist scorched to victory on the toughest stage of the Tour of Beijing in China, unleashing a 500-metre uphill sprint which cracked the other riders contending for the win.

Martin’s effort came at the end of a tough 157-kilometre race from Yanqing to Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain, and occurred after his Garmin-Sharp team-mate Ryder Hesjedal attacked on the lower slopes of the final climb, forcing other teams to chase and enabling the Irishman to watch and wait.

Hesjedal was finally hauled back close to the line, enabling Martin to launch his big attack and to hit the line two seconds clear of Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Orica-GreenEdge), race leader Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and 2013 world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).

He earned a 10 second bonus for his victory but Gilbert limited his losses by picking up a smaller bonus for third. The Belgian rider thus conserved some out of his previous 11-second advantage over Martin, holding the race lead into today’s final stage.


“It’s the way it is,” said Martin after the stage, moving from 21st to second overall but being three seconds adrift of the leader’s jersey he wanted. “I’m just happy to win the stage. I’ve been twice second in stages of this race and second overall last year so it’s just nice to be able to win a stage.”

He noted that his bid to take over at the top of the general classification would have been more straightforward if the final ascent had been tougher, and also if the conditions were different.

“I knew it was going to be a headwind on the climb,” he said. “It’s not that hard of a climb. It’s a big chain ring for a lot of it and we’re going at 30km/h so it’s not really a climber’s climb at all.”

Hesjedal played an important part in helping Martin win the recent Il Lombardia Classic, and also helped set him up for other important results in the past two years. Martin was glad to see him make his own bid for success.

“I was a bit surprised when Ryder went but he’s had good legs all week as well and he had to try,” he said.

The race will conclude on Tuesday with a mainly flat 117-kilometre race from Tiananmen Square to Bird’s Nest Piazza. A bunch sprint is expected and while there are time bonuses on offer at the finish line, it is likely that the race’s sprinters will absorb those as they tussle for the stage victory.

Martin also has a chance to try to make time up in the earlier intermediate sprints, but having been in a similar position heading into the final stage last year, he knows that it is a difficult task. Gilbert will likely use his team-mates to try to nab the available bonuses.

Still, he’ll do what he can, particularly as his morale is sky-high after two victories this month.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling