OPQS to Tour of Beijing
Omega Pharma - Quick Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will take part in Tour of Beijing, a five stage, 753.5km race from Oct. 9 to Oct. 13.
Unlike the first edition of the race, there will be no TT in 2012. The flat, 117km first stage begins in Tiananmen Square and features a 12 lap circuit. Due to storm damage in August, a section of a key second stage mountain was washed away, which forced a course change. The crucial second stage has been reduced from 134km to 126km, and now has three categorized climbs with a longer and steeper key climb. The third stage could very well shake up the GC, as the 162.5km stage features a Category 1 climb (10.8km, 6.4% avg. gradient) at the 68.5km point, a Category 2 climb earlier in the race, and two Category 3 climbs. The last Category 3 climb — Badaling Great Wall —is a 1km, 6.3% avg. gradient ascent to the finish. The final stage, a distance of 182.5km, could see some fireworks. There is a Cateogry 2 and Category 3 climb in the early kilometers, and a Category 2 climb leading into Category 1 Sizuo Lou at the 153km mark. Sizuo Lou is 5.4km, at 5.9% average gradient. The riders then rapidly descent into the finish in Pingu Century Square.
Tony Martin, who recently was part of the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team World TTT Championship team and also repeated as World TT Champion, now turns his focus to Tour of Beijing as his next objective. He is the defending champion, having been the top rider in the inaugural stage race in 2011.
"When I arrived in China last year I immediately realized that it was a nice race," Martin said. "So I was totally focused on the race at one moment. I think everyone realizes now it's a big race. For sure every year it will get bigger and bigger. They have a nice race organization. It will be really hard to defend my title because there is no time trial. 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."
"Last year I was totally amazed about Beijing itself," Martin continued. "It's really beautiful. It's big, when you see the huge buildings there, it's incredible that people built them. I never saw it in Europe before maybe in some parts of the US. I think it was really incredible to see it and the people are really nice. They are so friendly and helpful. It was a little bit unexpected how nice they were. On TV you always see it. Always smiling, always nice, and that is true in person. That's why I wanted to go there again. I really like the culture and it was a good time last year there. Even last year you could feel after my win that people started to recognize me in China. 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!"