Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tour of beijing stage 2

Its not often you get a chance to see one of the 7 wonders of the world. Its even more unique to have the opportunity to race a push bike past one! Well today the peleton here at the tour of beijing got the opportunity to do a fly by of the great wall of china! Fortunately when we were passing it the group was travelling at a very gentlemanly pace, the breakaway had established and we were trying to give them some breathing space. I made sure I was right at the front of the bunch so I could safely have good look at this seriously impressive structure and enjoy the novelty of racing the push bike alongside it. The city of beijing sits at the foot of a mountain range that is the home of the great wall. Its a very impressive site on a clear day to be able to see it as far as the eye can see from a high rise in the city. Today's stage was taking us behind this mountain range which as we found out separates one of the busiest and most densely populated cities in the world with beautiful natural countryside.

The stage was 200km in the length and while it had a few medium climbs it had bunch sprint written all over it. Our goal was to give elia a shot at the sprint and ensure Ivan saved as much energy as possible ahead of the more decisive days coming up. I was not required to ride on the front today so resumed my normal role of riding as close to front as possible protecting Ivan and ensuring his day was as stressless as possible. I felt pretty good today and don't remember being more than 5-20 wheels from the front all day until the final frantic kms so got the chance to take in the surrounds as much as possible.

I was seriously impressed with the countryside and terrain today and would have never imagined that just beyond the smog and great wall of china such an undeveloped and natural countryside existed. The roads were made of super fast hot mix and in perfect conditions. The climbs were not steep but steep enough and had plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes at all times. The decent on the second climb in particularly was an absolute cracker. Never a straight bit of road and perfect surface and while there were plenty of twists and turns the road never felt unsafe. In fact the climbs very much reminded me of those around monaco and menton in southern france. There were high rock walls on one side of you and low concrete guard rails on the other. Infact It was only passing the odd quaint little chinese village in the middle of nowhere with some very enthusiastic spectators that made we realise we were not rolling through the french Mediterranean! The fans are incredible and its amazing how such a small group of chinese people can make so much noise! As your pass by they instantly grab your attention as its such and enthusiastic noise that it really startles you. In europe you can have 10000's of people creating the same effect but here they really love giving you a cheer, it really is a very unique motivating encouragement if that makes any sense? Not only were the climbs spectacular but also the tree lined roads looked very reminiscent of those you come across in belgium and northern france. I don't know really what I expected of the beijing country side but if you do ever venture to this part of the world don't be deterred by the smog filled city's and head for the hills. It truly was a very enjoyable course, perhaps one of the more free flowing interesting courses I have ever raced on.

Back to the race and it was a pretty predictable day. A small break got away and BMC comfortably managed the margin before other teams chipped in in the closing km's to ensure a big bunch sprint. My role was simply to look after Ivan and recover as best as possible following my 170km on the front yesterday. On the final climb 50km from the finish I kept an eye on elia to ensure he got over that safely in the front group. I need not have worried as he glided up the climb right up the front so that was easy. Once down the other side Ratto took care of him and set him up for the sprint but unfortunately again Elia was boxed in and was not able to open up his sprint. I did my usual thing sititng behind Ivan to ensure should anything went wrong I would be quickly on the scene to get him out of it. He was safe and sound and finished safely in the peleton so looking forward to see what he can do in the next couple of days.

So so far I have really enjoyed the first couple of stages here at the tour of beijing. Been very ominous results wise from the cannondale boys however I expect that to change tomorrow. On paper it looks like a daniele ratto tyre stage so should he be in the group in the closing km's I would expect another big sprint from him. Been here a few days now so jetlag is finally subsiding and sleep paterns returning to normal. I predict that by tuesday I will be perfectly acclimatised just intime to jump back on the plane and head back to europe!

Race data
Distance: 201km
Time: 5hrs
Ave power: 240.5
Max power: 1010
Kcal burnt: 4400

CJW
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