UCI WorldTour: Gilbert wins the Tour of Beijing
Belgium's Philippe Gilbert (BMC) ended the 2014 season on a high by winning the Tour of Beijing, the final race of the UCI WorldTour.
Gilbert beat Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) by three seconds, with Colombia's Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) third at nine seconds after five intense days of racing in and around the Chinese capital.
Gilbert set up his overall victory by winning stage two to Yanqing in an uphill sprint ahead of Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Giant Shimano) and former World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida). Victory and the time bonus gave him the race leader's red jersey and thanks to expert help from his BMC teammates and a huge effort on the key stage to Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain, he was able to secure overall success.
Gilbert was crowned overall winner after safely finishing in the peloton on the last stage from Tiananmen Square to Bird's Nest Piazza in the centre of Beijing.
“Yesterday (Monday) was a very big effort for me. On a climb of 10km I usually suffer a lot but I was there and so I'm very happy to have on overall” Gilbert said. “I'm glad that my name is on this palmares. It's special to finish here with these monuments around us. It's nice to have a chance to ride in a place like this.”
Valverde, Movistar and Spain dominate the UCI WorldTour rankings
The Tour of Beijing is the final race of the 2014 UCI WorldTour and so awarded the final ranking points of the season. Gilbert scored 100 points and so climbed from 30th to 14th place in the final individual ranking.
Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is the number one ranked rider in the individual ranking for 2014, while his Movistar squad topped the team ranking and his points helped Spain dominate the nation ranking yet again.
Valverde did not travel to China for the Tour of Beijing after recently becoming a father but his consistency and success meant he scored a total of 686 points. He won the Flèche Wallonne one-day Classic and the Clasica San Sebastian, was fourth overall at the Tour de France, third at the Vuelta a Espana, third in the UCI Road World Championships and second at Il Lombardia.
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) won the Vuelta a Espana but was second behind Valverde in the final UCI WorldTour rankings with 620 points. Australia's Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) was third with 478 points after winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the spring and more recently the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Montreal double.
Movistar was crowned the best team in the UCI WorldTour rankings. Valverde scored a huge haul of points for the Spanish squad but victory depends on the points scored by the team's best five riders. Nairo Quintana won the Giro d'Italia to play a key role in Movistar's success, while Benat Intxausti, Jon Izagirre and Juan Jose Lobato also scored precious points.
Thanks to Gilbert's success at the Tour of Beijing, the BMC Racing Team moved up from third to second overall in the team ranking with 1212 points. Tinkoff-Saxo was third with 1186 points.
Spain again dominated the nations ranking, ending the 2014 UCI WorldTour with 1834 points. Italy finished second with 1070 points and Belgium was third with 1006 points.
The Tour of Beijing brought down the curtain on the 2014 UCI WorldTour. The 2015 rankings and season-long race series begin in Australia with the Santos Tour Down Under between January 20-25.