The Tour of Beijing first appeared on our calendars last year and contrary to the UCI's previous stance that races would have to be established and to prove their worth prior to World Tour licences being handed out, it came straight in as a WorldTour event (there must have been money in this decision) which meant much to the annoyance, at least originally, of many teams and management that all UCI WorldTour registered teams would have to be represented at the race in the far east, leading to an extended season and long distance travel at the end of a tiring year for many riders with tired legs. Putting politics to one side, lets focus on the race.
The route is pretty standard. Spread over five days there are some stages for the sprinters but also a stage or two for the climbers. This isn't alpine though and it's not three weeks long so it is perfectly feasible for a powerful rider with the ability to get up hills to make an impact and even walk away with the overall classification if they race intelligently. Last years winner was Tony Martin - a powerful TT rider with the ability to climb - and this should tell us what we need to know about who is capable of winning this race.
Any winning moves are likely to come on Stages 3 and the final day, stage 5. Stage 3 is a 162km long slog including 4 categorised climbs with a category 3 summit finish of 6.3% average though the road rises gradually upwards for much of the final 25 kilometres. Stage 5 features another four categorised climbs, with the biggest coming in the form of a category 1 climb which is around 5.6km in length with an average gradient of 6%. The summit of this climb is around 30km from the finish and the road in is most downhill which means this climb could be the perfect place to attack for the winning move, especially if the rider is a good descender or TT'er. All of the stage profiles can be found HERE.
The Tour of Beijing certainly will not float everyone's boat but it is the last chance to grab some televised cycling before the long dark months set in and the off-season blues finally take a firm grip on all of us...