Tour of Beijing: Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome to lead Team Sky
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tour of Beijing: Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome to lead Team Sky

by VeloNation Press at 11:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
World TT champion Tony Martin spearhead’s HTC Highroad’s challenge

Chris FroomeHaving finished a superb second overall in the Vuelta a España and then done some very important work in last Sunday’s Elite road race championships, helping pave the way for Mark Cavendish’s victory, Chris Froome will have a chance to target a big win for himself in the Tour of Beijing.

Froome started the Vuelta as a helper for Bradley Wiggins and while he eventually got the green light from the Sky Procycling management to ride his own race, that was after he had sacrificed time in helping his fellow Briton. He arguably would have won the Vuelta had he not been required to play a team role when in the red jersey of race leader. He finished just 13 seconds back in Madrid.

Froome now has a chance to show what he can do in Beijing, although the high mountains he relishes will be missing on the parcours there. He is a strong time trialist, though, and could put himself in a very strong position with a good performance in the opening TT on stage one.

“It is hugely exciting to be racing in China for the first time and a solid performance there would be a great way to end a fantastic season,” he said, relishing the chance to get in a good stage race with his current form.

“We have chosen a talented team for this race and, while we expect a strong challenge from rival teams, will be hoping to do well on a course that will suit our style of racing.”

He said that the team’s confidence is particularly high at the moment, both because of the second and third places achieved at the Vuelta (Wiggins was also on the podium), plus the strong work done by Team Sky’s riders in the worlds.

Another from the team who could ace the time trial Alex Dowsett. He has had a successful run of late, winning the national TT championships and taking the time trial stage of the Tour of Britain. The former Livestrong Under 23 rider is also looking forward to racing in China, and is a contender for the first leader’s jersey.

“For me, the opening individual time trial is a big opportunity. The course looks like it will really suit me,” he said. “It is flat, fairly short and will be very quick. I feel I am riding well and in good form and to be able to ride through Beijing in my British national time trial champion's kit will be very special.”

The duo will be joined by six others from the team, namely 2010 German road champion Christian Knees, Olympic silver medalist and team pursuit worlds gold medallist Stephen Cummings, double British road champion Jeremy Hunt, Canadian pro Michael Barry, plus the strong Italians Dario Cioni and Davide Appollonio.

Team Sky sports director Marcus Ljungqvist highlight’s Froome’s chances, and also that of the young riders Dowsett and the sprinter Appollonio.

“We have chosen a team that can challenge for individual stages as well as for GC,” he said. “It would be fantastic to have a Team Sky winner in this first edition of the race.”

World TT champion Tony Martin to lead HTC Highroad

Meanwhile the HTC Highroad lineup for the race has also been confirmed, and there the new world time trial champion Tony Martin will have the chance to show off his new rainbow jersey. As was the case with Froome, the opening time trial will be the perfect platform for Martin, although the German rider will have an even bigger chance of winning that stage due to his strength in TTs this year.

He won Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve on the basis of his races against the clock there, and also took stage wins in the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

“Winning the world title was a dream come true for me,” he stated. “I'm really excited to be able to wear the jersey for the first time in competition and I'm excited about racing in Beijing. There is a certain pressure that goes with wearing the world champion stripes but it also gives you confidence."

Another Vuelta a España stage winner, Michael Albasini, is due to compete alongside Martin, as are HTC Highroad team-mates Kanstantsin Sivtsov, Hayden Roulston, Peter Velits, Leigh Howard and Caleb Fairly.
Irish road race and time trial champion Matt Brammeier was also set to take part, but has not been able to get a Chinese visa in time.

“We'll have a strong team in Beijing,” said Martin. “We'll have Leigh Howard for the sprints and the rest of the team is a great team for going for the overall, so we're looking forward to racing hard.”

The team has clocked up 509 victories over the past three and a half seasons, and is determined to add more to that total before it folds at the end of the year.

“We've had such a great season and we're motivated to win races right up until the end of the season,” said directeur sportif Alan Peiper said. “We're looking forward to seeing what this new race will bring and we have a strong group of riders for both the sprints and the overall.”

The WorldTour race begins next Wednesday October 5th with an 11.3 kilometre individual time trial from Bird’s Nest to Water Cube. The riders will use normal bikes for the test.

The subsequent stages will finish at Men Tou Gou, Yong Ning Town, Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre and Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium.

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Tour of Beijing (WorldTour):

Stage one, Wednesday 5th October: Individual Time Trial, Bird’s Nest – Water Cube via Olympic Park circuit, 11.3km
Stage two, Thursday 6th October: Bird’s Nest to Men Tou Gou via North Gate of Summer Palace, 137km
Stage three, Friday 7th October: Men Tou Gou to Yong Ning Town via Thirteen Ming Tombs Reservoir, 162km
Stage four, Saturday 8th October: Yan Qing Gui Chuan Square to Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre via Mutianyu Great Wall, 189.5km
Stage five, Sunday 9th October: Tian An Men Square to Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, 118km

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