Cycling's 'God of Thunder', Thor Hushovd (BMC), sprinted to victory on the opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Beijing.

The Norwegian won the opening in a bunch sprint over Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in Huairou Studio City on the outskirts of the Chinese capital.

"It was a good win and I surprised myself," the former world champion said following his victory.

"I've had a hard couple of weeks after the worlds for the motivation but I still did the good training that I had to do, so to win here today couldn't be better," Hushovd said.

Orica GreenEDGE hit the front of the peloton in the final few kilometres in a bid to add to Michael Matthews' growing victory tally, before Matt Brammeier (Champion System) moved ahead with one kilometre to go. There was a second surge from the Australian team on the slight downhill run to the finish, and it was then that a glimpse of Hushovd could be spotted around sixth wheel.

Speedsters Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) then dueled at the front, before Mezgec and Matthews looked to be battling for stage honours before Hushovd came around the back of the Argos-Shimano rider for a narrow victory.

"It was a large road and really fast with a slight downhill," Hushovd explained. "I think I just had a perfect run. I was a bit behind and I got some slipstream and in the last couple of metres I was able to pass, I can't remember who, but I got just in front of him."

Hushovd will wear the red leader's jersey in tomorrow's second stage, courtesy of the win and the 35-year-old is hopeful of retaining the lead for at least another day.

"At least we will try to keep it tomorrow then it's two hard stages and we'll see what happens. I'll do my best."

The road to Huairou

The 190.5 km stage got underway under clear, sunny skies at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. A brief period of neutral was ended with direct action from the peloton, with attacks from the drop of the flag.

Four riders were able to open a small gap of around 200 metres on the peloton with Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil-DCM), Ryota Nishizono (Champion System), Sander Cordeel (Lotto Belisol) and Davide Vigano (Cannondale) moving clear.

It was a fast start to the race, with the pace at 50km/h after 6km, the breakaway out to an advantage of nearly two minutes. A brisk tailwind certainly provided some assistance early in the stage.

Vigano took maximum points on the first sprint of the day at 39.5km, but Wauters succeeded on the remaining two, so it's the Belgian who will wear the green jersey heading into stage two.

Cordeel, who took the lone KOM of the day and therefore the polka dot jersey, said that it was a day for taking chances.

"It's always nice to have a jersey for one day but if you don't believe in it you will stay the entire stage in the peloton and you will see boring races so you have to go for it."

Teams from Cannondale and FDJ.Fr would do the bulk of the work back in the peloton, however the four escapees would be allowed to move out to an advantage of 8:55 with 40km of racing complete before the gap slowly started coming back.

Shortly before the 120km mark, Vigano's efforts pulling turns in the break ceased. Soon after, the reason was clear, with the Italian pulling off to the side of the road for an extended nature break.

The break's strength again took a hit when Wauters was dropped with around 35km left to race, but Nishizoni too struggled to stick with Cordeel who ploughed on ahead solo. It was an effort that would also earn him the most aggressive prize for the stage.

"The thing is, you can ride as fast as you want but in the end it's the peloton who decides how much time you'll get," he explained. "We did a good tempo I said to the guys 'save yourself for the last 40kms' but when I went they didn't follow.

"For one moment I really thought maybe I had a small chance but at the end you're so tired you're glad the peloton is there so you can stop pedaling," he continued. "My legs are hurting."

Cordeel was eventually caught with five kilometres remaining in the stage with BMC taking responsibility at the front of the peloton to get their man over the line.

Time bonuses give Hushovd a three-second lead in the general classification over Wauters, with another second back to Mezgec. Two-time defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) finished in the main bunch but had a 10 second deficit to Hushovd overall.

Stage 1 (October 11th): Shunyi to Huairou Studio City, 190.5 km
1 Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team)4:20:34
2 Luka Mezgec (Team Argos-Shimano)
3 Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
4 Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
5 Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEDGE)
6 Enrique Sanz Unzue (Movistar Team)
7 Rdiger Selig (Katusha Team)
8 Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.FR)
9 Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto-Belisol Team)
10 Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida)
11 Aleksei Tsatevich (Katusha Team)
12 Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp)
13 Yauheni Hutarovich (AG2R La Mondiale)
14 Kenny Robert van Hummel (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
15 Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
16 Chan Jae Jang (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
17 Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
18 Marco Haller (Katusha Team)
19 Matti Breschel (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
20 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
21 Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
22 Dominique Rollin (FDJ.FR)
23 Dominik Nerz (BMC Racing Team)
24 Arnaud Courteille (FDJ.FR)
25 Jonas Ahlstrand (Team Argos-Shimano)
26 Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
27 Jesus Herrada Lopez (Movistar Team)
28 Dennis van Winden (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
29 Pengda Jiao (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
30 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
31 Mathew Hayman (Sky Procycling)
32 Danilo Hondo (Radioshack Leopard)
33 George Bennett (Radioshack Leopard)
34 Chad Beyer (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
35 Vladimir Gusev (Katusha Team)
36 Michael Rogers (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
37 Nelson Oliveira (Radioshack Leopard)
38 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)
39 Mitchell Docker (Orica GreenEDGE)
40 Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida)
41 Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
42 Jos Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Movistar Team)
43 Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
44 Jan Bakelants (Radioshack Leopard)
45 Anthony Roux (FDJ.FR)
46 Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
47 Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana Pro Team)
48 Rory Sutherland (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
49 David Lopez Garcia (Sky Procycling)
50 Damiano Caruso (Cannondale)
51 Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp)
52 Valerio Agnoli (Astana Pro Team)
53 Cheng Ji (Team Argos-Shimano)
54 Maarten Neyens (Lotto-Belisol Team)
55 Mikel Landa Meana (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
56 Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
57 Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team)
58 Maurits Lammertink (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
59 Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale)
60 Jean Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale)
61 Christian Meier (Orica GreenEDGE)
62 Evgeny Petrov (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
63 Marc Goos (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
64 Matthew Busche (Radioshack Leopard)
65 Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale)
66 Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol Team)
67 Arman Kamyshev (Astana Pro Team)
68 Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)
69 Juan Jos Oroz Ugalde (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
70 Yan Dong Xing (Team Argos-Shimano)
71 Jos Van Emden (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
72 Janez Brajkovic (Astana Pro Team)
73 Christopher Butler (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
74 Robert Gesink (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
75 Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol Team)
76 Francesco Gavazzi (Astana Pro Team)
77 Matthias Krizek (Cannondale)
78 Bernhard Eisel (Sky Procycling)
79 Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale)
80 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
81 Bob Jungels (Radioshack Leopard)
82 Andrey Amador Bikkazakova (Movistar Team)
83 Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
84 Richie Porte (Sky Procycling)
85 Mathias Frank (BMC Racing Team)
86 Rui Alberto Costa (Movistar Team)
87 Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)
88 Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
89 Dmitry Kozonchuk (Katusha Team)
90 Ivan Basso (Cannondale)
91 Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp)
92 Lawrence Warbasse (BMC Racing Team)
93 Michel Koch (Cannondale)
94 Gang Xu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
95 Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing Team)
96 Tom Veelers (Team Argos-Shimano)
97 Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale)
98 Beat Intxausti Elorriaga (Movistar Team)
99 Tiziano Dall'antonia (Cannondale)
100 Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
101 Evan Huffman (Astana Pro Team)
102 Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEDGE)
103 Paul Martens (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
104 Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp)
105 Petr Ignatenko (Katusha Team)
106 Thomas Leezer (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)
107 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (Sky Procycling)
108 Wesley Sulzberger (Orica GreenEDGE)
109 Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp)
110 Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
111 Hayden Roulston (Radioshack Leopard)
112 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
113 Daniele Ratto (Cannondale)
114 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
115 Cameron Wurf (Cannondale)
116 Mikel Astarloza Charreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
117 Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ.FR)
118 Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
119 Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto-Belisol Team)
120 Cameron Meyer (Orica GreenEDGE)
121 Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha Team)
122 Matt Brammeier (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
123 Cdric Pineau (FDJ.FR)
124 Biao Liu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
125 Thomas Peterson (Team Argos-Shimano)
126 Giovanni Visconti (Movistar Team)
127 Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
128 Joshua Edmondson (Sky Procycling)
129 Johan Le Bon (FDJ.FR)
130 Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
131 Tobias Ludvigsson (Team Argos-Shimano)
132 Jrmy Roy (FDJ.FR)
133 Ryota Nishizono (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
134 Jay Mccarthy (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)
135 Ian Boswell (Sky Procycling)
136 Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team)
137 Simone Ponzi (Astana Pro Team)
138 Stephen Cummings (BMC Racing Team)
139 Blel Kadri (AG2R La Mondiale)
140 Michael Hepburn (Orica GreenEDGE)
141 Massimo Graziato (Lampre-Merida)
142 Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida)
143 Albert Timmer (Team Argos-Shimano)all s.t.
144 Jens Mouris (Orica GreenEDGE)0:43
145 Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida)0:46
146 Takashi Miyazawa (Team Saxo -Tinkoff)0:52
147 Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp)s.t.
148 Barry Markus (Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team)0:00
149 Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida)1:58
150 Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida)3:22
151 Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team)s.t.
152 Sander Cordeel (Lotto-Belisol Team)4:20
153 Davide Vigano (Lampre-Merida)10:54