Tour of Beijing 2012 – Preview

by Old Bone Machine

As a child one of my favourite films was The Omega Man.

The film was based on the novel I Am Legend by the American writer Richard Matheson. There was an earlier 1964 film adaptation called The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price, and a more recent 2007 adaptation called I Am Legend with Will Smith. I’ve not had the courage to see either. For it is the 1971 version starring Charlton Heston that I have a great fondness for.

The plot of the film is admittedly simplistic. Biological warfare between China and the Soviet Union results in a plague being released that kills most of humankind.  The army colonel and doctor, Robert Neville, played by Heston, injects himself with an experimental vaccine and as a result is immune to the deadly disease. Los Angeles is devoid of people. Heston could be the last man on earth but at night a group of albino mutants called “The Family” roam the streets and seek to kill the omega man.

The film featured one of the first interracial kisses by the characters played by Charlton Heston and Rosalind Cash.

Watching the inaugural 2011 Tour of Beijing last year, I was reminded of the eerie scenes of Heston driving alone through the deserted Los Angeles city streets. Beijing is a city with a population in excess of 20 million, but where were all the people, where were the spectators?

Since the first Tour of Beijing was successfully held last year, the event has been gradually familiar to the Beijing people, and has become a new platform to promote national fitness and low-carbon lifestyle.

Wang Anshun – Acting Mayor of Beijing Honorary President of the Organizing Committee of Tour of Beijing

The Tour of Beijing is a real gem among the treasures of cycling. The event showed itself to be a spectacular success in 2011 and it is with real joy that the champions, journalists and other partners join us for this second edition, while millions of fans, along with the simply curious, will discover a spectacle in all its beauty on their television screens.

A Chinese proverb teaches us that the Tour of Beijing is without a doubt a wonderful investment for all of us: “All the flowers of the future are in the seeds of today”.

Pat McQuaid – UCI President

I fear that Pat McQuaid’s proverb may have been taken from a fortune cookie.

In the short history of the Tour Of Beijing there has been a reluctance of both teams and riders to participate. There have been concerns over politics, human rights, pollution and the Tour’s place at the end of a long riding calendar.

This year, Argos-Shimano, a team with a Japanese co-sponsor and rider, withdrew from the Tour of Beijing. Citing current political tensions between China and Japan and the earlier removal of the Japanese team Aisan from the Tour of China as reasons. Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank also decided to not include their Japanese rider Takashi Miyazawa.

Without a time trial stage in the 2012 edition, Tony Martin, the 2011 GC winner, will struggle to defend his title. This year the GC winner will be a more traditional stage rider, a rider that can climb. Ryder Hesjedal, who won the Giro, is a favourite as are the in-form riders Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton.

I’ll be hoping that Simon Clarke, who won the mountain classification at the Vuelta, can secure bookend victories for the Orica-GreenEdge team. Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge won the first World Tour event of this year, the Tour Down Under, in January.

Andy Schleck who has had an annus horribilis with injury is confident of starting in the event.

Alberto Contador has said that it was “pointless” for him to participate, referring to the UCI rule that a rider returning from a doping ban cannot accumulate World Tour points. I won’t mention clenbuterol and meat in China … oh no I just did.

Sky’s Michael Barry will ride his last professional race at this year’s Tour of Beijing.

The Tour of Beijing is the final World Tour of the year. It is a five stage race which starts Tuesday 9th October in Tian An Men Square and concludes Saturday 13th October in Pinggu Century Square. The route features many iconic sights including the Bird’s Nest Piazza and the Bedaling Great Wall. Yet it is spectators and history that make a race unique and special, something the UCI and the Tour of Beijing organisers need to focus on and amend. I hope they do so in 2012.

On your marks, get ready and race!!!

Images and quotes were sourced from the 2012 Tour of Beijing Roadbook.