As I prepare to fly out to China, I wanted to write to you about our final WorldTour event of the season. Hard to believe that it’s nearly the off-season.
The Tour of Beijing is an important race for every team. It’s the last chance to secure WorldTour points. We bring a strong team, and we’re eager to showcase our talent.
As we’ve discussed our objectives for the race, it’s become clear that we would like to close out our maiden season as it began – with a win. Simon Clarke has the ambitions and the fitness to lead the team in the general classification. He came out of the Vuelta, where he won the mountain classification, with the best form of his life, and he’s carried this form into the fall. He is one of several cards we can play.
Allan Davis will be our second protected rider. He recently finished sixth in the road race at the Road World Championships last month. While all of our riders will have the encouragement to look for a stage win, I see several chances for Allan.
Having looking closely at the five profiles for each of the five stages of the Tour of Beijing, I predict a for a bunch sprint on stages one and four. On these days, we will look to Aidis Kruopis and Leigh Howard to repeat their recent victories. In September, Leigh took an impressive win at the Tour of Britain over sprint king Mark Cavendish. Aidis took his first WorldTour win this summer at the Tour de Pologne.
Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Christian Meier and Wesley Sulzberger will play a support role on the sprint stages and look after Simon for the overall. They are also riders that I would be comfortable sending into breakaways to pursue their own chances.
None of our guys have had overloaded race programs this year. We’ve looked after them well and had our important late season objectives in mind during earlier in the year. Because of this, we bring a fresh team to China. They are up for it both physically and mentally – and at the end of the season, this mental freshness is key.
We were all introduced to Tour of Beijing last year, and you may have heard about some of the unique challenges we faced there. Riders talked about the smog, the food and the security. As cycling expands across the world, our riders are becoming more and more open-minded and flexible to the non-European cultures they encounter. They also realize that racing wherever the races happen to be is part of their job and learning to compete well in all different kinds of circumstances is important these days.
Dan Jones will be with the team in China, so keep an eye out for videos to capture the capstone to our season. After Beijing, the team has one final race – Japan Cup. Sports Director Matt White will lead the team in the single day race and close the curtain our inaugural season.
Thank you for being part of our successful first year.