Beijing – Italian Elia Viviani won the first stage of a windy Tour of Beijing on Tuesday after the Italian timed his sprint for the finishing line to perfection.
His triumph follows a victory in the fourth stage of the race last year, the first time that a World Tour calendar event was staged in China.
Viviani, who races for the Liquigas-Cannondale team, found space on the left of the bunch to dart through and claim victory in the final moments of the 117 kilometre race.
He finished in front of British cyclist Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Team Sky).
The race saw a five-man break set the pace after 14km Ä leading by about two minutes at one stage – until the gap was closed with less than two of the 12 laps remaining.
The five-day Tour of Beijing is the final event of the season, and will see 18 of the world's top cycling teams compete.
The opening race saw 143 cyclists from 30 countries race from Tiananmen Square to the Olympic Park, home of Beijing's National Stadium, the main venue for the 2008 Olympics.
Viviani will wear the leader's jersey heading into stage two, a 126 kilometre race from the Olympic Park to Beijing's hilly western suburbs.
2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, along with defending Tour of Beijing champion and London Olympics silver medalist Tony Martin of Germany are also competing in Beijing. – Sapa-AFP