Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) won the Tour of Beijing’s hardest stage on Friday north of the country’s capital in Yong Ning. He out-sprinted fellow Irishman Philip Deignan (RadioShack) and Chris Froome (Sky).

“It’s the stage win I’ve been waiting for for two years,” said Roche.

“Last year, I had great results and great satisfaction but I didn’t get a win. This year, I had little satisfaction, and I finally get a win! It balances out over the two years. It was such a great moment, that split-second when you put your arms in the air.”

Deignan initiated the three-man move on the fourth and last climb of the day, Xiezishi, near the Great Wall. Roche and Froome responded, the latter eager to crack overall race leader, Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad).

“If there was any stage to do it, it was today,” said Froome. “In a race like this, you have to risk it to win it.”

Xiezishi left 12 kilometres to race and a three-kilometre finishing straight, similar to that found in France’s Paris-Tours classic.

The trio played its tactics, but there was little time to spare as Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD) won the sprint one second later.

“I just wanted to get time over the peloton, so I was pulling as hard as I could,” added Froome. “When Roche and Deignan went for the sprint, I just tried to carry on. A stage win wasn’t my objective.”

“Those last 15Ks went really quick,” explained Roche. “We tried to keep each other motivated and agreed to play it straight until the last 500 metres.”

Martin was in the group behind and maintained his overall lead that he gained in the first day’s time trial. He leads David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) by 17 seconds and Froome by 26 seconds.

“I went quite deep,” Millar said after being sick at the finish. “I’m not fit and I’m having to use my head. I was way over my limit on those climbs. I am happy to still be in second overall.”

Alex Dowsett (Sky) held the white leader’s jersey going into the stage, but lost it as he trailed in by 8-07 minutes.

“I just wasn’t good enough,” said Dowsett. “I haven’t done a climb like that since Critérium International. I need to work on it.”

Martin remains strong and said that he feels confident he will add Beijing to his palmarès in two day’s time.

Three riders abandoned during the stage. Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing) crashed after being hit by roadside barrier blown out on on top of the Xiezishi and suffered a small fracture around his upper teeth.

Results

Tour of Beijing 2011, stage three: Men Tou Gou to Yong Ning Town, 162km


1. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r in 3-53-15

2. Philip Deignan (Irl) RadioShack at same time

3. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 1 sec

4. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-ISD

5. Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank-Sungard

6. Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank

7. Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar

8. Simon Clarke (Aus) Astana

9. Michael Barry (Can) Sky

10. Luke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank-Sungard all same time

Overall classification after stage three

1. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad


2. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at 17 secs

3. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 26 secs

4. Steve Cummings (GBr) Skt at 35 secs

5. Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 39 secs

6. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank at 41 secs

7. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 43 secs

8. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 43 secs

9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step at 43 secs

10. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick Step at 46 secs





Breakaway. Photo: Sonoko Tanaka





Stage three scenery. Photo: Sonoko Tanaka





Stage three scenery. Photo: Sonoko Tanaka





Stage three scenery. Photo: Sonoko Tanaka





Nicolas Roche celebrates the stage win





Roche at the finish. Photo: Gregor Brown





A Beijing race fan. Photo: Gregor Brown

Related links



Stage two: Haussler bounces back with Beijing win



Tour of Beijing faces smog and police



Stage one: Martin holds off British charge to win Beijing time trial



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