Bouhanni enjoying late season success at Tour of Beijing

FDJ rider says summit finish is too hard for him to keep lead

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) extended his lead at the Tour of Beijing after his second victory in as many days on stage 3 to Qiandiajian.

The finale was a fast one with a lot of attacks, including a late effort from Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) but Bouhanni held tough on the final climb and finished with a clear gap over his fellow sprinters.

The Frenchman waited until the perfect moment to pounce, after sitting on Alessandro Petacchi’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep lead-out train in the closing kilometres.

“I was behind Petacchi with 250 metres to go,” Bouhanni said after the stage. “I went to the left, I didn’t hesitate and I went for it.”

Bouhanni held off Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) to take the victory, his eleventh of the season. In recent weeks, he has won the Tour de Vendee, GP Fourmies and hat-trick of stages at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.

After two flat stages in the opening two days, stage three was a tougher prospect for the sprinters, who had to contend with seven climbs in order to stay in contention for the win. Now in his third year as a professional, Bouhanni has built up the resistance necessary to survive a succession of climbs, and the sprinter found his way into the reduced lead group at the finish.

“It was hard,” said Bouhanni. “But the team worked really hard and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Normally I’m good on a two or three kilometre climb and today I was fine.”

On Monday, the riders take on the Tour of Beijing’s first-ever summit finish, to Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain. Bouhanni holds an 11-second lead after stage 3, but he dismissed any notion that he might keep the lead into the final day of racing.

“The fifth stage, with the sprint, I want to win, but tomorrow will be too hard for me,” said Bouhanni, who is already looking ahead to the final stage in Beijing, which features a pan flat start in the city centre, before a finishing circuit around the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games.

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