Lewis Initiates Breakaway On Tour of Beijing's Opening Stage
Craig Lewis of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team was the first rider to form a five-man breakaway Tuesday and the last from it to be caught on the opening stage of the second edition of the Tour of Beijing.
According to Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon, Lewis was the least likely of the team's eight riders to be off the front of the race that started under a sunny, blue sky in Tiananmen Square and ended at the Bird's Nest Piazza, in the shadow of the iconic Olympic Stadium.
"It's kind of funny," Beamon said, "because we talked about the importance of getting someone in the break today. I actually told Craig not to go in the break because he's hogging all the break time. But seriously, he's really got a good sense for it right now. He's picking all the right moves."
In June, Lewis scored a win out of a long breakaway on Stage 2 of the Tour de Beauce in Canada and figured in a pair of day-long escapes on stages of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado in August. But in this case, the American said he didn't think his group would survive to the finish – but he was surprised that its advantage did go out to two minutes.
"We got more time than I thought we would, but I never thought we would make it," Lewis said. "There's too many sprinters here, it's the first day and it's only 117 kilometers. So it wasn't hard for them to control."
Lewis and the four riders in the breakaway with him – Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Matthieu Lagadnous (FDJ-Big Mat), Bert Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) – were finally reeled in on the penultimate trip of 12 laps of an eight-kilometer circuit. That set up Elia Viviani's stage win for Liquigas-Cannondale as the Italian took the first red jersey of race leadership.
Aaron Kemps, in 23rd place, was Champion System's top finisher while Pengda Jiao earned the "Best Chinese Rider" honors for Asia's first pro continental squad that was only announced for the race six days ago.
"This is a good start," Beamon said. "It's good to have the opportunity to have a rider in the breakaway on the first day."
Wednesday's Stage 2 will start where Tuesday's race finished and travel 126 kilometers over three climbs before ending at the Yongdinghe Culture Plaza in Mentougou.