Beijing - Francesco Gavazzi won the third stage of the Tour of Beijing in dramatic style on Thursday, but the Italian remained in second place overall behind last year's champion Tony Martin.
Gavazzi, who races for Astana Pro Team, burst through in the final minutes of the race to overtake Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Dan Martin on the finishing line.
Boasson-Hagen had made a bold sprint for victory with just 4km remaining but the Norwegian could not maintain his lead over the chasing pack in the crucial final moments of the race.
Martin then took the initiative and briefly led on the final dash for the finishing line, but it was Gavazzi who timed his sprint to perfection and claimed victory in the 162.5km race in just over four hours.
Gavazzi's victory shaved just 10 seconds off Tony Martin's overall lead of 50 seconds coming into Thursday's race.
Martin, who races for Omega Pharma-QuickStep, won the second stage on Wednesday after dominating for most of the race and cruising across the line with a huge lead of 46 seconds.
With just two races remaining in the five-day tour, the 27-year-old German, who took silver in the men's individual time trial at the Olympics this year, remains in a commanding position to retain the title he won last year at China's first World Tour calendar event.
Thursday's race was staged from China's hilly western suburbs to the Great Wall at Badaling, probably the most visited section of the wall.
The Tour of Beijing is the final event of the season.
Results from the third stage of the Tour of Beijing on Thursday:
1. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA/Astana Pro Team) 4hr 05min 08sec, 2. Daniel Martin (IRl/Garmin-Sharp) same time, 3. Edvald Boasson-Hagen (NOR/Sky Procycling) same time, 4. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA/AG2R La Mondiale) same time, 5. Rui Alberto Costa (POR/Movistar Team) same time, 6. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/Rabobank Cycling Team) same time, 7. Eros Capecchi (ITA/Liquigas-Cannondale) same time, 8. Moreno Moser (ITA/Liquigas-Cannondale) same time, 9. Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC Racing Team) same time, 10. Daniele Pietropolli (ITA/Lampre - ISD) same time
Overall classification after stage three:
1. Tony Martin (GER/Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 9hr 35min 52secs, 2. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA/Astana Pro Team) at 40 secs, 3. Daniel Martin (IRl/Garmin-Sharp) at 50 secs, 4. Edvald Boasson-Hagen (NOR/Sky Procycling) at 52 secs, 5. Eros Capecchi (ITA/Liquigas-Cannondale) at 52 secs, 6. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA/AG2R La Mondiale) at 56 secs, 7. Tomasz Marczynski (POL/Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling) at 56, 8. Rafal Majka (POL/Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) at 56, 9. Rui Alberto Costa (POR/Movistar Team) at 1-00, 10. Tim Wellens (BEL/Lotto-Belisol Team) at 1-00