Rainbow jersey, Bird’s Nest, Water Cube.
How often do you hear those three words all in one bike race? Well, it’s no ordinary stage race, it’s the inaugural Tour of Beijing. UCI president Patrick McQuaid is on hand to watch the race along with whatever people the Chinese government orders into the streets.
This most auspicious event kicked off with an 11.3 kilometer spin from the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium to the Water Cube. Last off the ramp, World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin of Germany powered to the win over Garmin-Cervelo’s David Millar by 17 seconds.
“It is my first time in the rainbow jersey and now the first victory in the jersey so it’s a really special day for me and it is also an honor to be the first stage winner at the Tour of Beijing,” Martin said after the chrono.
Despite the restriction barring riders from using their time trial bikes, Martin put in a superlative ride on his road rig. The same one he gets to have at his new team, Omega Pharma Quickstep.
“It was a short course and we weren’t allowed to ride on the TT bikes so it was a difficult situation for me but I was really motivated and I still have the power and condition I had at the Worlds,” said Martin.
While Martin was the fastest rider, Sky was certainly the quickest team. Alex Dowsett took third place, while Vuelta surprise Chris Froome and Steve Cummings both made the top five. A terrific result for the black and blue.
However, misfortune struck the man wearing the Chinese lucky number eight. The Olympic road race champion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Samuel Sanchez came down with an illness. He was caught and passed by Martin and finished 1:57 down and out.
Did he eat a bad fortune cookie?