Combine a mid-season vacuum with two cancelled races in Iran, and it feels like the UCI AsiaTour never left China. Several teams from July’s Tour of Qinghai Lake were back on familiar ground again, with a few additions thrown in to keep things fresh.
[Note: Cycling iQ is not on-site in China. The below report and images have been provided by the Tour of China organising committee. Some spell-checking has been applied, but the report has otherwise been left "as is" for authenticity.]
The first stage of the Tour of China started in the northern city of Xian, which is famous for its Terra Cotta Warriors. The course was a short 19.8 kilometer team time trial, which was both flat and technically simple affair due to its straight out-and-back layout. The only issue that the riders had to deal with was the wind which pushed them toward the turnaround point but became a headwind on the way back.
Prior to the race the riders all felt the same. It was difficult for them to assess their chances as most of them had not ridden against each other before. In attendance were four professional continental teams, three national squads and the remaining fourteen teams were continental teams. All the teams set out to make a good impression on the spectators and each other. Due to the comfortable temperature in the low-twenties and the brand new roads helped the teams to average speeds in excess of 45 km/h!
Christina Watches-Onfone team averaged nearly 51km/h which enabled them to take the stage, fourteen seconds ahead of the young Rabobank team. Team Type 1-Sanofi rounded out the top three, 23 seconds behind the winners.
In the end, the Christina Watches-Onfone team, lead across the line by Stefan Schumacher, claimed the win. He will start the second stage in the yellow jersey. Beside him will be his teammate, Michael Rasmussen who will be wearing the blue jersey as the leader of the points classification. Meiyin Wang, who is riding for the China Hope Star Team, was the fastest Chinese rider so he will be wearing the white jersey.
In post race interviews both Schumacher and Rasmussen said that they were extremely happy with their result and that they would be looking to defend both the yellow and points jerseys. Other teams will be looking forward to tomorrow’s one hundred kilometer circuit race and the chance to take the jerseys away from the Christina Watches-Onfone squad.
Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches – ONF)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches – ONF)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): N/A
Best Great China Rider Classification (White jersey): Xu Gang (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Teams General Classification: Christina Watches – ONF
STAGE ONE RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE