The Tour of Beijing’s shortened stage 2 due to poor air-quality appeased most of the peloton as it rolled across the original finish line in Yangquing – but possibly not the Movistar rider who wore a face mask.
After the race, Alain Rumpf, head of Global Cycling Promotion, praised the process of reaching the decision to finish the race at the Yan Jia Ping summit finish in the higher, cleaner air of the Yan Mountains, which finished with a powerful sprint climb claimed by Philippe Gilbert.
Rumpf said: “We had a fantastic race and a good winner. The race was fair and that was important for us.
“We’ve been monitoring the situation since the beginning…and I think the decision was the only one that could be taken at the time. We wanted to have a clean situation – we wanted the race to start with everyone knowing what was going to happen. We spoke with the riders, with the team managers, we spoke with the local organising committee who were in touch with the local Yangquing government.”
However while most of the peloton finished with a relaxed mentality there had been serious threats at the start that teams were prepared to strike.
With smog a constant complaint at the late season WorldTour race, it means most of the peloton’s eye will be fixed to pollution forecasts. Stage 5 is at most risk. The 117km stage takes place in the heart of the capital on a route between Tian An Men Square and the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
The US Embassy which monitors for PM2.5 – very fine particulate matter that can be absorbed into the bloodstream – has recorded levels between Very Unhealthy and Hazardous for the last 24 hours. Its cautionary statement for Hazardous suggests everyone – even healthy adults – should avoid all outdoor exertion.
However Rumpf was hopeful the fair winds would prevail. And a breeze late this evening has drastically reduced dangerous particulate matter monitored by the embassy.
“What is important to say is that right now the quality of the air has vastly, significantly improved,” said Rumpf.
“The forecast is positive for the next days so we hope for the best but we go day by day and we will take the appropriate decisions for the race.
“We’ll have to make a decision on the spot, but we are ready to make the decisions to protect the health of the riders,” he added.