Champion Germany’s Tony Martin of HTC-Highroad team (R) sprays champagne with third-placed David Millar (L) of Garmin-Cervelo team on the podium during the award ceremony for the inaugural Tour of Beijing cycling race in Beijing on October 9, 2011. Tony Martin claimed his first stage race victory as world time trial champion when he won the inaugural Tour of Beijing. The race is the first of its kind in Asia, as the International Cycling Union (UCI) looks to expand into new continents. (LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)
The official start list for 2012 Tour of Beijing has now been released and 143 riders from 30 countries will take to the start line for the second edition of the Tour of Beijing.
On the eve of the event, the main contenders and organizers participated in a press conference in Beijing.
Quotes from each of the riders in attendance can be found below:
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Germany.
2011 Tour of Beijing winner, defending champion.
“Last year was my first time in China and I really enjoyed this experience. The Tour of Beijing is one of the best organised races in the all season. The plan to come back this year was made in spring whatever I would win or not the time trial in the 2012 UCI Road World Championships. “
“As the Tour of Beijing doesn’t include a time trial anymore, my chances to repeat my victory are a bit tight. However, I will try again and keep fighting.”
Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), Luxembourg.
2010 Tour de France winner.
“To many riders, the Tour of Beijing is the last race of the year, but to me this is a new beginning.”
“After I fractured my hip in June it has taken time to recover but my pain doesn’t bother me riding anymore. I am very happy to be back to the peloton, to my team, to a professional rider’s life, to put a number back on my jersey. “
“Sunday, it was good to ride around Beijing with fans, sponsors and guests, because we realized we will race the Tour of Beijing with people’s support. Cycling is now a globalized sport. We certainly don’t have so many opportunities yet to race outside Europe, although some of the races on other continents are much better organization than in Europe! This is why I enjoy being back to China and Beijing after the 2008 Olympics.”
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Spain.
2008 Olympic Champion in the men’s road race in Beijing.
“This is a very special feeling to be back to Beijing as my gold medal four years ago in the Olympic Games definitely changed my life. “
“Last year I enjoyed training and racing on the Olympics’ course and I had some good memories coming back. This is the same this year. The race is hillier, which is a good point for me. We have no sprinter in the team, so we must make the mountain stage as hard as possible and we are ready for that. The Tour of Beijing provides us great conditions. This is currently about 23-24°C, so it’s perfect to ride a bike.”
Xu Gang (Champion System Pro Cycling Team), People’s Republic of China.
2012 China’s National Champion.
“The Tour of Beijing is for my team and myself is a great opportunity to ride with world class athletes we see on television and in the newspapers.”
“To be honest, the race will be difficult as we haven’t experienced the UCI WorldTour level before. But I will do my best for sure. I hope to share with my team-mates my little experience of international races like the Tour of South China Sea [that he won in 2008, Ed.]. Given I am not fast enough in the sprints I would like to show myself in the mountains stage in the north of Beijing.”
Tian Junrong, Tour of Beijing Expert Consultant, representing the Local Organization Committee.
“One of the biggest cities in the world, Beijing has got the energy and the will to stage an international event like the Tour of Beijing. We believe cycling is a great opportunity to show people from all over the world numerous sides of our City and region. This is why we applied for an UCI WorldTour race.
The preparation of 2012 edition started in November 2011. The Tour of Beijing officially involves more than 600 people a day, but we actually think there are many more, which shows a strong local support to that event.”
Alain Rumpf, Global Cycling Promotion Director.
“I am happy to see many riders involved in first edition last year come back to the Tour of Beijing and, after they have done a long season, I have a big respect for the commitment of the 18 UCI WorldTour teams and our guest Champion System Pro Cycling Team.”
“This year, the course is harder and the roster even better. This is the same in terms of organization as the Local Organization Committee is doing very impressive work.
“Among the reasons which led Beijing City’s authorities to start this race, there is the hope cycling increases as a green way to travel. Thus, the Tour of Beijing is a race to solve the issues many big cities in the world are facing with.”
2012 Tour of Beijing Stages:
Stage One – Tuesday 9th October
117km – Tiananmen Square to Bird’s Nest Olympic Piazza
Start: 1:55pm (local time)
Stage Two – Wednesday 10th October
126km – Bird’s Nest Piazza to Men Tou Gou Yong Ding River Cultural Square
Start time: 1:25pm (local time)
Stage Three – Thursday 11th October
162.5km – Green Sea Forest Park to Yan Qing Ba Da Ling Great Wall
Start time: 12:40pm (local time)
Stage Four – Friday 12th October
165.5km – Yan Qing Gui Chuan Square to Chang Ping Stadium
Start time: 12:40pm (local time)
Stage Five – Saturday 13th October
182.5km – Chang Ping Stadium to Ping Gu Centenary Square
Start time: 12:10pm (local time)