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Hushovd thunders to sprint win in Tour of Beijing opener

BEIJING (AFP) — Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) won the first stage of the Tour of Beijing on Friday, after the Norwegian timed his sprint for the finishing line to perfection.

The 2010 world champion edged ahead of a crowded pack during a sprint finish of the 190.5-kilometer stage, crossing the line at just over 4:20.

Marginally behind the 35-year-old were Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano), Belgium’s Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Italian Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma).

Petacchi was the first to dart for the finishing line, but was caught by Hushovd in his bid for glory.

It is the first appearance at the Beijing event, the last of the UCI WorldTour season, by Hushovd, a former Tour de France green jersey winner.

The veteran racer earlier this year signed a three-year contract with BMC, and repaid them by claiming two stage victories in August’s Tour of Poland.

The first stage of the Tour of Beijing was from the Chinese capital’s northeastern district of Shunyi to Huairou, further outside the urban area.

Hushovd will wear the leader’s red jersey for Saturday’s stage 2, the longest section of the race at 201.5km, stretching from northwest to northeast Beijing.

London Olympics silver medalist and two-time defending Tour of Beijing champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma) of Germany is hoping to make it three wins in a row this year.

The event was established in 2011.

Also racing is Portugal’s Rui Costa (Movistar), who won at the world championships in Tuscany last month.

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