No time trial leaves doubts over ability to go back-to-back
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) is buoyed at the prospect of defending his Tour of Beijing title, but knows it won't be an easy task.
"It will be really hard to defend my title because there is no time trial," the dual World Champion in the discipline said. "That was my advantage last year. This year it will be much harder, but I will of course keep that in mind. I did a really good preparation in the Vuelta which I think would give me a good advantage in the mountains. We will see.
"I am really looking forward to the race. I am really motivated and I will have a good team with me. So we will do the best we can and I hope I can maybe repeat the win."
Global Cycling Promotion director Alain Rumpf noted the importance of having the German return to the event following his win in the inaugural edition.
"Already we have seen a significant lift in his profile in Asia thanks to last year's victory and it is important that the local people have a familiar champion to relate to. We are expecting to have some huge Tony Martin fans lining the streets this year."
Martin will be well-supported by recent Vuelta a Espana stage-winner Dario Cataldo when the tour hits the mountains from the second stage. The Italian all-rounder will leave the Belgian outfit for Team Sky in 2013.
"Even last year you could feel after my win that people started to recognize me in China," Martin continued. "It was really strange but it was nice. It's also a sign of the future in cycling. We have to get more international. Not just in Europe, also in the US and in Asia and places like that. I really am looking forward to Beijing!"
2012 has been a rollercoaster for the 27-year-old after suffering a nagging early-season injury, being struck by a car in training in April and then breaking his hand in a crash on the opening road stage of the Tour de France. He recovered to claim a silver medal in the time trial at the London Olympic Games before winning gold in the team time trial and individual event at the recent UCI Road World Championships.
The full Omega Pharma - QuickStep line-up for the Tour of Beijing is: Tony Martin, Dario Cataldo, Iljo Keisse, Marco Bandiera, Francesco Chicchi, Andy Fenn, Frantisek Rabon and Julien Vermote.