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

Photo: Sirotti














01.10.2014 @ 11:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having finished fourth in last year's edition of the race, Rui Costa will return to the Tour of Beijing next week when he lines up as leader of the Lampre-Merida team. He will be supported by local hero Xu Gang who will do the race for the third year in a row.


LAMPRE-MERIDA’s Xu Gang will join Cheng Ji (Giant-Shimano) as the Chinese riders leading the charge at the fourth edition of the Tour of Beijing with the final race on the UCI’s WorldTour calendar getting underway on Friday 10th October.
Xu is a four-time Chinese road champion, and won the overall title at the Tour of the South China Sea in 2008. The 30-year-old has also ridden the last two editions of the Tour of Beijing and is hungry for success.
Xu said he is looking forward to once again promoting cycling to front of Chinese fans at this year’s race.
“The Tour of Beijing is one of my last races for the 2014 season, a season which has been fantastic and brought me huge amount of professional satisfaction since I started my professional career in a World Tour team,” Xu said.
“For me it is a great honor to race in China in a WorldTour race and hope to increase the amount of Chinese fans for me and my Italian team.”
Riding alongside Xu in the Italian-based LAMPRE-MERIDA team for Beijing will be 2013 world champion Rui Costa.  Fresh in his rainbow jersey at last year’s race, Costa rode to fourth overall in the 2013 edition of the Tour of Beijing and should once again be a contender in 2014. Last year Costa was riding for Movistar and after an audacious attack on the final climb, he watched teammate Benat Intxausti make a telling final attack to take the Queen stage win and with it the overall crown.
This year’s it’s a new team and a new challenge for Costa, who finished 23rd in his world title defence, just seven seconds in arrears of the winner last weekend.
“It would be very satisfying to end the season obtaining a joy in Tour of Beijing,” Costa said.
“Last year my aim was to honour the rainbow jersey on Chinese roads, but this year too I’d like to aim to top results. The course is interesting and there are two stages that could be suitable for me. LAMPRE-MERIDA’s selection is very competitive, that’s why I’m sure our fans will have a good time supporting us!”
In what is being billed as the toughest Tour of Beijing to date, Lampre-Merida has assembled a squad more than capable of answering any questions the challenging parcours asks of them.  Italian’s Filippo Pozzato, Sacha Modolo will join Argentine Maximiliano Richeze as the spearheads of the Lampre-Merida attack for the sprint finishes. On the mountainous stages, Costa can rely on support from Xu, Nelson Oliveira, Rafael Valls and up-and-comer Jan Polanc.
“The course of the stages of 2014 edition will give the opportunity to many riders to fight for the final victory of the Chinese race,” Sport director Joxean Fernàndez Matxin explained.
“The opening stage and the second one will be suitable for sprinters, but in the 3rd stage the battle for the top classification positions will begin. The 4th stage will be the queen one and the winner of the overall classification will be designated: he’ll be honoured in the final day in Beijing.”
“LAMPRE-MERIDA’s cyclists will have the qualities to battle in the classification and for the stages successes: Rui Costa, Oliveira, Polanc and Valls are in a good condition and the course seems to be suitable for them. Modolo, Richeze and Pozzato will target the fastest stages.We’ll count on Xu Gang grind to give our best.” Matxin added.
The 2014 Tour of Beijing will be held from Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th of October as the last event on the UCI WorldTour calendar. The five day, 764.5 kilometre route provides for opportunistic racing and takes in breathtaking views of the Great Wall, Beijing’s mountain terrain and embraces key tourism attractions such as Tiananmen Square and the Bird’s Nest.


LAMPRE-MERIDA – 2014 Tour of Beijing
(POR, 28)
The 2013 world champion avoided the dreaded curse of the rainbow jersey in style, winning the final stage of the Tour de Suisse and in doing so, claiming the overall lead from Tony Martin. That elevated Costa in the history books, becoming the first rider to win the event three years consecutively. It's been a solid year for Costa, third overall at the Volta ao Algarve, second overall at Paris-Nice and third overall at the Tour de Romandie.
(CHN, 30)
Four-time Chinese road champion, won the overall at the Tour of the South China Sea in 2008. Has ridden the last two editions of the Tour of Beijing.
(ITA, 27)
Modolo's ascendency has continued with his move to Lampre-Merida in 2014, with seven stage wins to his name this season. Stage victories have included wins at the Tour de San Luis, Three Days of De Panne and at the Tour de Suisse. Modolo also posted a 7th placing at Milan-San Remo.
(POR, 25)
Won the double at this year's Portuguese national championships, taking honours in both the road race and time trial. Spends most of his time working as a domestique.
(SLO, 22)
Young rider on the rise who returns to the Tour of Beijing after finish 15th on GC and 4th in the best young rider classifications in 2013. Made his Grand Tour debut at this year’s Giro d’Italia, after winning the Baby Giro in 2012.
Filippo  POZZATO
(ITA, 33)
2014 looms as the first in Pozzato's 14-year professional career without victory. Italian was last able to cross the finish line victorious at 2013's GP Ouest France - Plouay. A classics specialist, Pozzato channelled his disappointment in missing out on a place at the Tour de France into this year's world championships.
Maximiliano RICHEZE
(ARG, 31)
There have been two podiums for the sprinter in 2014, on stage 4 of the Tour of Turkey and in the final stage of the Tour de San Luis where Richeze started his season. Gold medallist at the 2012 Pan American Road Championships. Twice runner-up in two stages of the Vuelta a Espana in 2013.
Rafael VALLS
(ESP, 27
A climber, Valls is known for his tenacious spirit. In 2013, despite suffering a broken rib from the sixth stage, he completed the arduous Giro d'Italia. Finished just outside the top-10 in this year's Tour de Suisse.



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