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"I had to change my tactics because the finish suddenly came on top of a mountain. We wanted to go for Hofland because it was an ideal sprint for him, but we changed tactics for Paul Martens."

Photo: Belkin Pro Cycling Team






11.10.2014 @ 16:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Belkin went into the second stage of the Tour of Beijing with the plan to ride for Moreno Hofland. However, a late change to the stage forced the team to alter its plans.


Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM rider Paul Martens finished 11th in a shortened second stage of the Tour of Beijing. The stage was won by Philippe Gilbert (BMC). The Belgian sprinted ahead of South African Reindardt Janse van Rensburg (Team Giant-Shimano) after 111 kilometers and took the overall lead in the process. 

Race authorities and judges, after the teams' insistence, drastically shortened the second stage because of heavy smog. The Chinese authorities issued a code orange, recommending to close all windows and doors, in the smog hit area. Still the peloton covered 111 kilometres in cold temperatures and under rain drops in the first kilometres . 

"Before the start of the stage, I was informed that the race was shortened and would finish on the top of the last mountain sprint of the day," explained Sports Director Nico Verhoeven. "The smog would be very serious, but until the finish on that climb, it was not so bad and we thought why should the stage be shortened?” 

After the stage won by Philippe Gilbert, the peloton rode quietly to the previously scheduled finish in Yanqin to honour the assembled public and sponsors there. 

"On the other side of the mountain, you could see the blanket of bad air hanging over Yanqin. And then it became clear to us that you should not be racing in those conditions. The smog had a foul odour , ” Verhoeven continued. “It was the only and right decision not to race on that side of the mountain. I had to change my tactics because the finish suddenly came on top of a mountain. We wanted to go for Hofland because it was an ideal sprint for him, but we changed tactics for Paul Martens. We finished in no man's land on top of a mountain. We later went to the real finish, first by the cars and then the last bit on bike . We did it for the public and the sponsors at finish." 

The hilly stage tomorrow to Quianjiandian Chao Yang Temple appears to be another day for Paul Martens. 

"I expect a tough final tomorrow. I think there will be a little group that will ride to the finish. It will be a turning point for the classification riders and perhaps for Paul Martens, and not so much for Moreno Hofland. But the real ranking will be made the day after tomorrow, when we encounter some serious climbs.”



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