BEIJING (AP) — Norwegian cyclist Thor Hushovd won the first stage of the Tour of Beijing for BMC on Friday.

Hushovd, known for his sprinting, took advantage of the flat, 190-kilometer (118-mile) stage northeast of Beijing from Shunyi Olympic Rowing Park to Huairou Studio City.

After more than four hours' racing, Hushovd took the red jersey in a bunch sprint with Luka Mezgec of Slovenia, who was second, and Nikolas Maes of Belgium, third.

"It was a good win and I surprised myself," the former world champion said. "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 he had a perfect race and hoped to keep the lead.

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

The five-stage tour ends on Tuesday, having added about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from 2012.