Team Sky took to Beijing’s roads on Monday morning to train ahead of the China’s first top-level stage race, the Tour of Beijing. Its eight-man team will compete with cycling’s first division teams from Wednesday to Sunday (October 5-9).
“It’s my third trip here after the  Olympics and once for a World Cup,” Sky’s Steve Cummings told Cycling Weekly. “It’s good to be back.”
Cummings joins fellow Brits Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Italian Davide Appollonio, South African John-Lee Augustyn, Canadian Michael Barry and German Christian Knees for cycling’s new event.
Despite an arrival yesterday afternoon, Sky was out on Beijing’s roads this morning for a two- to three-hour ride. Sports directors Servais Knaven and Marcus Ljungqvist will follow the team, as they did in training on Monday.
The riders travelled all day on Saturday and Sunday and are suffering from the seven-hour time difference.
“I had trouble falling asleep,” Cummings continued. “I finally did, my eyes closed and I slept to 10am. I missed breakfast.”
Knaven and Ljungqvist followed behind, but the riders still had to face Beijing’s concrete jungle and Monday morning traffic. China’s national holiday this week makes the traffic somewhat better.
Team Sky hit the roads of Beijing
The Chinese race is part of the push to globalise cycling by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Global Cycling Promotion, headed by UCI’s former ProTour manager, Alain Rumpf, organised the race.
The ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, also joined. It sent its team to help local Chinese workers handle on-the-ground logistics.
Earlier this year, WorldTour teams had threatened to boycott the race due to an ongoing row with the UCI over race radios and the UCI was criticised for promoting its own race.
The Tour of Beijing is the first time for the UCI to organise an event via Global Cycling Promotion. Though the GCP is legally separate from the UCI, it keeps close ties via Rumpf and offices at UCI’s Aigle headquarters.
The race assembles a start list that includes 2008 Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez, Tony Martin, Nick Nuyens, Johan Van Summeren, Tour of Britain winner, Lars Boom and David Millar.
Millar, Boom or new World Champion Tony Martin may win the opening time trial in the Olympic Park. The 11.3-kilometre course runs by the famous Bird’s Nest stadium and Water Cube swimming facility.
“I am curious to see how it’s all received,” said Millar in a press release. “This is a new venture for our sport and we want it to succeed.”