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Tour of Beijing’s goodbye

With the WorldTour series decided, the Tour of Beijing's swan song offers racing, plain and simple for those still hungry for a win

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MILAN (VN) — The Tour of Beijing, with decreasing support, will run for a fourth and final time October 10-14 through the North and into China’s capital city.

“It will be a good experience in Beijing,” said one of the pre-race favorites, Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in a press release. “I come back to China for the first time since the Olympics in 2008.

“I remember the public on the roads and it will be good to see how this race will be followed by supporters along the parcours. My goal is to go there and do a good race, and try to end this season with good memories.”

In the wake of the 2008 Olympics, the UCI’s former president Pat McQuaid began the Tour of Beijing in 2011. German Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won twice, and last year, Spain’s Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) took the win ahead of Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

The race began to fall out of favor and was not supported by Brian Cookson when he took over the UCI presidency in September 2013. Cookson said that it created conflicts of interest for the governing body, due to the fact that an arm of the UCI is involved in promoting the event. He feels that there are better ways of developing racing in China. At the world championships last month, Cookson said the race would enjoy its last edition in 2014.

Without Beijing, the WorldTour race series has a narrower reach, stretching as far as Australia for the Tour Down Under season opener and to Canada for the one-day autumn races in Québec and Montreal. Its heart remains in Europe.

The teams, nations, and cyclists already settled the 2014 WorldTour rankings — Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) at the Giro di Lombardia on Sunday, and both decided to skip the last race. All that remains in Beijing is racing.

Besides Urán, Intxausti, Martin, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) could be racing for the overall win.

“I am very proud to wear the number one in this 2014 Tour of Beijing,” Intxausti said. “I am the last winner of this race and I will try my very best to repeat the success.”

Costa posted photographs and videos on Twitter, but said that China blocked him from doing so on Facebook. It leaves him with more time for training, something that is not an option for Martin.

Martin is still waiting for his bike to arrive after two days. He also complained about the lack of organization that resulted in a five-hour wait at the airport and the 9.5-hour transfer to the hotel.

“Turns out customs are not letting our bikes go. 5hrs after landing. Still at the airport. Thanks Tour Beijing organisation,” the Irishman wrote on Twitter.

The course begins northwest of Beijing in Chong Li on Friday, features two mid-mountain stages and climbs to Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain at 3,290 feet to close stage four. The final and fifth day, the Tour of Beijing waves goodbye with a flat, and hopefully smog-free, stage from Tiananmen Square to Bird’s Nest Piazza.

“Last year my aim was to honor the rainbow jersey on Chinese roads, but this year too I’d like to aim to top results,” Costa said. “The course is interesting and there are two stages that could be suitable for me.”