Subscribers to the “more is better” philosophy will appreciate having not one, but two, Tours of China on the UCI AsiaTour calendar this year. Following two years of a relatively compact schedule, the race has now been split into two, with an aggregate distance just shy of 1,050 kilometres.
TOUR OF CHINA BACKGROUNDER
Starting in Xi’an (Shaanxi province) and finishing in Tianjin (municipality), the third Tour of China is jointly organised by the Chinese Cycling Association and Cosisports (China Olympic Sports Industry Co., Ltd). The template from the inaugural Tour of China (2010) continues to be applied this year, but with a twist. According to the Tour of China organiser, two proposed schedules were submitted to the UCI this year: 1) all race days held consecutively; 2) split the event into two, but have one overall winner across all classifications.
For reasons that are still not clear, the UCI accepted the second proposal. The upside for teams? They will ride 15% fewer kilometres than in 2011, but will stay in China for 17 days (as opposed to 9 days in 2010, and 12 days in 2011). Despite the quirky maths, 21 teams have opted in – including the Nutrixxion Abus team of 2010 winner Dirk Müller (former pro with Deutsche Telekom and Mapei-Quickstep).
In contrast to the solid turnout and aforementioned “more is better” mantra, belt-tightening in the accounting department has been keenly felt by some Continental teams. 4-star hotels and two team cars (Buicks) have been promised for the race’s entirety, but travel budgets as low as USD3,000 make obvious the need for teams to have financial partners as well as equipment suppliers.
Speaking of equipment suppliers, BMC will enjoy a better profile than most in the days ahead – Rusvelo, BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, Atlas Personal-Jakroo (riding impec’s!) and the Australian National team are all riding bikes from the Swiss-based brand.
The warmest months of summer have passed, but riders can still expect daily temperatures to reach 30°C, with humidity around 80% at times. The likelihood of rain decreases as the race heads southeast towards Wuhan.
Tour of China is a typical mix of circuit races and point-to-point stages that are designed around giving the host city value for money, as opposed to providing spectacular vistas on television. Given the distance and lack of climbs – the most significant of the race’s three categorized climb’s comes during Sunday’s third stage (15km in length, 700m elevation gain, 5% gradient) – all stages should be wrapped up in three hours or less after starting. Races such as this cause one to ponder if there is any sporting correlation whatsoever between parcours and UCI ranking.
For events ranked 2.1 or lower, teams are permitted a maximum of six riders. Of the 21 teams, 4 are ProContinental and 14 are Continental. Asian riders account for 47 of the 124 starters (38%, compared to Tour of Qinghai Lake’s 32%).
START LIST (PDF) HERE
Four jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Blue
Leader of King of the Mountains (KOM) Classification – Polka Dot
Leader of Best Great China Rider Classification – White
A total prize purse of USD320,000 is on offer. Here’s a breakdown [To be listed once available]
Overall winner (individual) =
Overall team =
Overall team (Asian) =
Overall KOM =
Overall Points =
Stage winner =
If there’s a common theme amongst the official websites of UCI stage races in NE Asia, it’s the temptation to over-build the platform with myriad sub-sections; giving visitors false hopes of content delivery. As of day 3, entire sub-sections of the Tour of China’s website are still empty. Also, there is more information on the Chinese version of the site. Local media with international websites, such as CCTV, Sportspress.CN and Sina will be reporting on the race, as will specialty cycling website QQRide. Any live coverage (including any proxy information, if needed) will be posted on Twitter. [My photographer mate, Mike Murano (Cycling Asia), is also attending; follow him on Twitter.]
At this level of racing, English-language media coverage should be available through major cycling news sites, but there are no guarantees. For those with web browser translation plug-ins, enter the following characters 2012年环中国国际公路自行车赛 (“2012 China International Road cycling race”) into Google, and translate away!
Stage 1 | Xi’an HighTec Zone (TTT) 19.8km
Friday, 07 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)
Stage 2 | Xi’an Circuit Race 100.0km
Saturday, 08 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)
Stage 3 | Lantian Xi’an – Shangluo 125.6km
Sunday, 09 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)
Stage 4 | Xiangyang – Xiangyang 125.1km
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)
Stage 5 | Zaoyang Circuit Race 117.0km
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)
Stage 6 | Wuhan – Wuhan 90.4km
Thursday, 13 September 2012 (starts xx:xx local time)