2012 Tour of China I stage 2: Xi’an Circuit Race

Rain, damn rain. It’s uncomfortable enough on a point-to-point stage, but its insidious nature is amplified when added to a tight-cornered city circuit race. Despite the potential hazards and the 50kph average speed, all 124 starters finished today’s second stage in Xi’an city safely – with Team Type 1’s Alexander Serebryakov leading the field home.

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.]

Images: Tour of China & Sonoko Tanaka
Video: QQride.com

Stage one of the Tour of China saw great racing conditions, however the good conditions did not last and the riders faced rainy conditions. The second day saw the weather change as well as changes on the leader board. The riders did not seem to have been tired out by the stage one team time trial and they completed the stage with an average speed of 49.7 km/h for the one hundred kilometer stage.

Prior to the race the riders were a little worried that the conditions would be slippery which would lead to crashes; this fear proved, ultimately, to be unfounded. From the moment the gun sounded, riders attacked. It was difficult for any breaks to escape due to the layout of the L-shaped course. This made it easy for the spectators to enjoy the race but difficult for a break to get out of sight and mind of the peleton. Despite the failure of the breaks, there was no shortage of riders willing to attempt to do so. The peleton was not interested in letting the riders get away which lead to bunch sprints for intermediate sprints. The first two were won by the Malaysian sprinter Mohd Harrif Saleh who is riding for the Terengganu Cycling Team.

After each sprint riders attacked but every time they were brought back, which was made easier by the windless conditions. On the final lap it looked as though four riders might be able to make a break and stay away. The peloton didn’t look to be in the mood to chase after racing so hard for two hours and they allowed the breakaway to get a lead of a few hundred meters. However, in the final five kilometers the peleton reconsidered, got organized and the break suffered the same fate as earlier breaks. This lead to another group sprint, this time for the stage win. Despite looking strong in the intermediate sprints, Saleh was unable to repeat his success and finished seventh on the day. Australians Aaron Kemps (Champion Systems), Jack Beckinsdale (Australia National Team) and Benjamin Hill (Australia National Team) finished second through fourth but they were unable to best Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1-Sanofi) who beat everyone to the line.

After the results were tallied, most of the jerseys changed hands. The points jersey was taken from Michael Rasmussen of the Christina Watches-Onfone team and given to Saleh. Tomorrow will see Martin Pedersen (Christina Watches-Onfone) start the race in the yellow jersey. Stage three is certain to see a shake up as there is a category two climb with a peak at 72 km from the start of the 125.6 kilometer stage. The weather is forecast to the rainy again so the riders will be in for another uncomfortable day. Video highlights

Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Martin Pedersen (Christina Watches – ONF)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Saleh Mohd Harrif (Terangganu Cycling Team)
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