|Close-up detail of the Bird's Nest. The|
apparently random placing if the steel
spars isn't ransom at all
(© JJ W CC2.0)
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Stage 2 begins, as did Stage 1, at the iconic "Bird's Nest" National Stadium (39°59'28.06"N 116°23'14.38"E), but rather than a high-speed course around the city and managed parks, today the route heads out into the real countryside. The finish line is in Men Tou Gou, just west of Beijing and contiguous with it, but as the riders head north-west they'll soon be leaving the city behind. At first, it's all wide arable fields, but once the race begins to proceed south after passing through Yangfangzhen, it's not long until we see the first mountains of the tour. The teams will only be climbing two small ones today and only the second, at 188m, is categorised (3) - but they'll go up it four times, giving a total of around 900m climbing over the entire 137km stage.
Beijing to Jun Zhuang
After riding 1.05km north from the stadium, the peloton will turn left onto Datun Road to begin the neutral zone. The turn is tight due to the wide central reservation with riders needing to avoid the barriers lining the narrow passage on the southern side of the road. They then turn right 500m later, passing onto Beichen West Road - as they approach it along the left-hand lane of Datun Road and the junction is around 50m wide, there should be no problems with the pedestrian crossing and central reservation just around the corner. From here, the race takes the same route as yesterday for the next 2.9km, passing onto Aolin Road West. However, rather than crossing the bridge over the N 5th Ring Road they'll take the left lane slip road down onto it (40° 1'10.89"N 116°22'44.46"E), heading west and reaching the end of the neutral zone and the beginning of the race as they do so.
|Olympic Centre Court (© Doma-w CC3.0)|
|Ruins of the Old Summer Palace (public domain image)|
|Yihe Huang (© Zhangzhe0101 CC3.0)|
|Much of Stage 2 takes place in the forested Western Hills|
(© Shizhao CC2.5)
Beiqing Road heads west for 7.16km - another rather boring section that forms part of the race solely to convey the riders from one place to another without any technical features. Fortunately, the countryside through which it passes is attractive; a compliment that cannot also be paid to the towns - though Sujiato, just around the right-hand corner leading onto Wenyang Road, has at least one thing to recommend it in the annual fruit-picking festival. Sadly, it's a tradition that will probably not last until the end of the current decade as the little town will, sooner or later, be swallowed up by Beijing as the city grows ever larger in the biggest expansion and urbanisation project the world has ever seen. Also worthy of mention is Sujiato's peculiar liking for blue roofs - a liking that also manifests itself in the surrounding towns and villages.
|Peking Man (homo erectus pekinensis), an early|
human ancestor from as long as 780,000 years
before the present, was discovered in a Western
Hills quarry during the 1920s
(© kevinzim CC2.0)
The turning itself shouldn't be problematic - though the pedestrian crossing just around it may be slippery after rain - but the road immediately enters a section with many overhanging trees as the race enters Bei'anhexiang, thus increasing the likelihood of punctures. There's more of the same on the way out of the town, then the race turns right onto Wenquan Road (40° 3'13.56"N 116° 7'16.81"E) which, after 1.1km, becomes Da Jue Si Road - the stage itinerary misses Wenquan Road, apparently mistaking the entire section for Da Jue Si Road.
|A few kilometres to the south-west of the finish line is the|
Tanzhe Temple. At 1,700 years old, it's among the oldest
temples in the Beijing area.(© Ding CC2.0)
The first lap of the circuit begins 55.5km from the start of the race, passing through an urban area for the initial 0.92km before heading into countryside. The road is sandwiched between a golf course some way below the road on the left and a steep mountainside rising up on the right. The first categorised climb, a Cat 3 to 188m, begins 3km into the first lap, ending 1km later.
Almost immediately after the end of the climb, the road turns tightly right - potentially a danger spot for riders who attempt to descend fast to make up time lost on the way up. It passes by a junction with the X002 Danijan Road a short way ahead, then passes to the left of Dan Li village. Riders remain right to pass through a 40m tunnel, then turn left; the road becoming known as Shidan Road once it turns slightly right and away from the river. The stage's second sprint begins 2km later (39°58'32.28"N 116° 2'58.28"E) followed by the feed zone 1.5km after that (39°59'2.90"N 116° 3'39.40"E) - 65km into the race. The road sweeps to the right, passes a bridge on the left and then bends right again 1.2km later, soon becoming Chengzi Road and continuing south for 3.86km until a left turn onto Shuizha Road Bridge.
|During the rainy season, the Yongding is wide|
(© Vmenkov CC3.0)
708m after joining the bridge, the race turns left and back onto the W 6th Ring Road heading north. The road itself is as uninteresting as it was earlier, but offers some good views across the river and to the mountains; especially after 908m when it skirts the edge of the water on concrete piles before passing under a 1.08km long railway bridge. The next 2.98km lead back to the start of the circuit and the beginning of another lap 76.5km from the race start.
|Though considered separate from Beijing well into the 1990s,|
the eastern parts of Men Tou Gou are rapidly becoming
suburbs of the city. However, the mountainous terrain that
covers some 97% of the region will hopefully ensure that
the tiny villages dotted around the landscape will be
preserved. Among them is the famous village of
Chuandixia, dating from the Ming Dynasty and now a tourist
attraction due to its traditional architecture.
(Copyright image used courtesy of Visit Our China)
Another crossing lies 300m ahead, followed by another marking 900m to go. A short way ahead, the race reaches the large Hetan Road intersection, marking 800m to go. Moments later, Yongdinghe River Cultural Square appears on the left - at the next pedestrian crossing, there are 356 straight metres left, making it territory for the sprint specialists. The finish line is located just before the turning on the left leading into the park, 112m from the fly-over (39°56'12.64"N 116° 6'15.75"E).
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