For the second year in succession, the WorldTour comes to a close at the Tour of Beijing. With regards to that contest, however, this race will be something of an anti-climax, with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) already having sealed victory in the season-long competition. But this year’s edition hopes to attract attention anyway, with a handful of big names lining up and some decent looking stages.
In a country where road cycling is a very niche sport, little can be done in the short term to improve the poor attendance at the road side, but the course features some lively terrain that could make for more exciting racing than we’ve seen in race’s previous two editions. After a straightforward opening stage that begins in Shunyi and ends with what will probably be a bunch sprint in Huairou Studio City, the race heads north for two lumpy stages that will encourage attacks from rouleurs.
The decisive day in the GC looks set to be Monday’s stage four, where the Tour of Beijing debuts its first ever mountain top finish. With an average gradient of 5.7% the Mentougou Miaofeng peak is not the steepest, but a combination of its 12.6km length and the handful of other climbs tackled that day will make for a stern test. The final stage repeats the finale from 2011, as the peloton travels from Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium.
Tour of Beijing: Ones to Watch
Dan Martin (Ireland, Garmin-Sharp)
Historically, Dan Martin has ridden well at the back end of the season, and his fourth at last week’s Tour of Lombardy suggests that this year is no exception. He has history at the Tour of Beijing, where he won the mountains’ jersey and finished fourth last season, and is looking to cap an excellent season off with another impressive ride.
Rui Costa (Portugal, Movistar)
The recently-crowned world champion was used as a domestique in his first race in the rainbow jersey at the Tour of Lombardy, but has been named leader of Movistar at the Tour of Beijing. The Portuguese rider has an impressive habit of finishing first more than he does second or third, and could be set to add yet another win to his gleaming 2013 palmares.
Tony Martin (Germany, Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
The world time trial champion remains the only ever rider to have won this race, having dominated the 2011 edition with an authoritative effort against the clock in the opening stage, and gaining what proved to be an unassailable lead with a solo break last year. However, Martin openly admits that a hat trick of victories is unlikely, given the ill-suited, time-trial-less parcours.
Robert Gesink (Netherlands, Belkin)
Gesink may have had a quiet 2013 season, but his form has been on the up all autumn, with his first win in the season at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec followed by a top 10 showing at Lombardy. Now 27, his status as young future star of grand tours may have expired, but victory in the Tour of Beijing is well within his capabilities.
Michael Matthews (Australia, Orica-GreenEdge)
Young Australian Matthews announced himself on the world stage with two sprint wins at the Vuelta a Espana, and looks like one of the most talented riders of his generation. In Beijing, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale) looks set to be his main rivals in the bunch sprints, but, if he can replicate his Vuelta form, he should come out on top.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain, Vacansoleil-DCM)
After 14 years in the pro peloton, Juan Antonio Flecha will bow out of cycling at the Tour of Beijing, having last week announced his imminent retirement. The Spaniard has always been an entertaining rider, and will no doubt have a few more attacks up his sleeve; given his strong recent form, he could even pull off a stage win. Also retiring is Marco Pinotti, a much-respected time trial specialist renowned for his long term anti-doping stance.
Tour of Beijing 2013: Stages
Stage 1, October 11: Shunyi – Huairou Studio City, 191km
Stage 2, October 12: Huairou Studio City – Yanqing, 202km
Stage 3, October 13: Yanqing – Qiandiajian, 176km
Stage 4, October 14: Yanqing – Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain, 151km
Stage 5, October 15: Tiananmen Square – Bird’s Nest Piazza, 117km
Tour of Beijing 2013: TV Coverage
Live coverage of the Tour of Beijing will be shown by digital and satellite broadcaster British Eurosport.
Friday October 11, 07.45-09.45, Stage one LIVE, British Eurosport & HD
Saturday October 12, 07.45-09.45, Stage two LIVE, British Eurosport & HD
Sunday October 13, 07.45-09.45, Stage three LIVE, British Eurosport & HD
Monday October 14, 07.45-09.45, Stage four LIVE, British Eurosport & HD
Tuesday October 15, 07.45-09.45, Stage five LIVE, British Eurosport 2 & 2 HD
Tour of Beijing 2013: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Champion System Pro Cycling (China)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Sky (Great Britain)
Tour of Beijing: Recent Winners
2012: Tony Martin (Germany)
2011: Tony Martin (Germany)
Tour of Beijing: Last year’s top 10 (2012)
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana at 40 secs
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 48 secs
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 50 secs
5. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 52 secs
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 56secs
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank at st
8. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil at st
9. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at 1min
10. Tim Willens (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at st