The inaugural Tour of Beijing, the penultimate round of the UCI World Tour marks the first foray of the top tier of the sport in Asia. After a successful 2008 Olympic Games, the UCI’s event organisation body, the GCP put in place plans to host an event in Beijing, and the fruition of those efforts are now being realised.
Despite concerns over a potential boycott of the race still circulating as late as August, in protest against the UCI’s stance on race radios, an agreement to defer any decision on the matter has appeared to appease the teams, and we can now focus on the racing.
The UCI’s new points system has added an extra level of intensity to the closing events of the season with AG2R principal Vincent Lavenu, recently commenting that he had been forced to send a full strength team to China to maximize the team’s chances of participation in the WorldTour in 2012.
Several other teams are taking the Tour of Beijing very seriously, with a quality field including Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton Hernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo), Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Chris Froome (Sky), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) all in attendance.
Like the Santos Tour Down Under, the Tour of Beijing will also be inviting a national team, with eight Chinese riders to compete against the world’s best over the five days.
The Tour opens with an 11.7km time trial that departs from the famous ‘Birds Nest Olympic Stadium’ around the Olympic village, and finishing at the Water Cube. It is a pancake flat course, and will be the perfect opportunity for new time trial world champion Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) to show off his new rainbow bands.
The second stage sees riders race a short 60km out to Men Tou Gou, before 4 laps of a hilly 21km circuit to total 137km. It should favour an escape, but with a nice little ramp at the finish, don’t be surprised to see a puncheur like Samuel Sanchez make their mark early.
The Queen stage, the second longest day of racing at 162km, features three category 1 climbs and a category 2 which starts just 15.5km into the day’s stage. The combination of the Xiezishi and Erpuliang climbs in the final 30 kilometres will be the best opportunity for the general classification riders to create time gaps, though a downhill finish in Yong Ning may somewhat nullify any gains.
Stages 4 and 5 suit sprints, and with no major climbs on either day, look for Theo Bos (Rabobank), Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard), Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) or Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) to pick up a win in Beijing to close out their seasons on a high.
The 1st Tour of Beijing
Stage 1 - Oct 5 Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium - Water Cube (ITT) 11.3 km
Stage 2 - Oct 6 Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium - Men Tou Gou 137 km
Stage 3 - Oct 7 Men Tou Gou - Yong Ning Town 162 km
Stage 4 - Oct 8 Yan Qing Gui Chuan Square - Shunyi Olympic Rowing/Canoeing Centre 189.5 km
Stage 5 - Oct 9 Tian An Men Square - Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium 118 km
Alex Hinds, Production Editor
Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.
If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.
Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.
When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.
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