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Tour of Beijing will be a tough race, organiser says

By:
Pierre Carrey
Published:
July 21, 2011, 16:04 BST,
Updated:
July 21, 2011, 17:17 BST
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 21, 2011
Pat McQuad, Christian Prudhomme, Yan Shi and Alain Rumpf at the Tour of Beijing press conference.

Pat McQuad, Christian Prudhomme, Yan Shi and Alain Rumpf at the Tour of Beijing press conference.

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Course details revealed for newest WorldTour event

Pocket climber John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) said after the Giro d'Italia that his next goal would be the Tour of Beijing, the new WorldTour event, from October 5-9. The course unveiled on Monday may not suit pure climbers like him, but key stages include a 11-kilometer opening time trial and a hilly third stage.

"The overall winner will be a climber who's strong in time trial or a time trialist who climbs well," Alain Rumpf, the Director of Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) told Cyclingnews.

GCP, a private management sports firm founded in 2009 and linked with the UCI is the organiser of Tour of Beijing, with several supporters including a local committee in Beijing and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

Asked by Cyclingnews to compare his race with a well-known one in Europe, Rumpf cited another WorldTour race, the Tour of Poland. "The Tour of Beijing is not flat but it's rather accessible," he said.

For its first year in the top calendar, the Chinese race faces several obstacles like the jetlag, the late date in the schedule and the logistical problems to carry people from Europe to Beijing's center.

One of the solutions to making the race more appealing is short stage distances. The average of the four road stages is 150.75km,  and the longest is 189.5km. "It grants a good show and suits the riders who will race in a late date of the calendar," Rumpf said.

About jetlag, the GCP Director noted, "It's about seven hours, the same than in GP Quebec and GP Monteal. To support riders' adaptation, they will arrive three days before the start."

The route drawn by Alan Rushton [the former organiser of the Tour of Langkawi and Tour of Ireland] will explore the major sites of the 2008 Olympic Games. "We wanted to praise the Olympic heritage," Rumpf said. "The sites' proximity is also an asset for short transfers".

The "Bird's nest" stadium will host the start of stages 1 and 2 and last day's finish. The "Water Cube" where swimming events happened during the Olympics is the place of stage 2's finish, while stage 4 will conclude at the rowing and canoeing competition site.

Teams logistics will be made simpler by a ban on time trial bikes for the stage 1 test, like in the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman.

The rules specify, moreover, no time bonus in the intermediate sprints or finishes.

Sprinters might have good chances to win in stage 2, 4 and 5, a sort of  "Champs-Elysees" day with a start given on Tiananmen Square and 12laps near the "Bird's nest" Stadium.

Certainly the queen stage 3 from Men Tau Gau to Yong Ning, will explore the mountains of northern Beijing. The course has 2000m difference in altitude, with three category 1 and one category 2 climbs.

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