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As tends to be the case with stage races, the Tour winds up right in the heart of the capital city for the fifth and final stage; and with human habitation in the Beijing region stretching back a quarter of a million years (Homo erectus pekinensis - remember those chaps from Stage 2?) and the city having served as political and cultural centre of a country as vast as China for many centuries, there's a lot of history packed into the parcours.
|A Polish monument to those murdered by the Chinese|
Government in 1989 includes tank tracks on cobbles and,
representative of the Chinese people's lack of freedom,
a crushed bicycle.
(public domain image)
After passing by the grand hotels and Audi dealership that symbolise modern Beijing as much as the Forbidden City symbolises ancient Beijing, Chang An East crosses Dongdan North Street and becomes Jianguomen Inner Street before reaching the East 2nd Ring Road, then changes name again to Jianguomen Outer Street and runs for 2.28km to the East 3rd Ring Road. There are many very fine buildings - mostly modern but some old - on both sides of the road, one of the most imposing being the vast white edifice of the Beijing International Hotel topped by a revolving restaurant. A little further ahead on the right are the LG Twin Towers, the 20th tallest buildings in Beijing at 141m - stacked end on end, they'd still stop far short of the tip of the tallest, the China Central Television Tower which can be seen from the Forbidden City and stretches to 405m.
|The Central Business District. The East 3rd Ring Road|
heading north can be seen on the right and, under
construction, the China Central TV building.
(© CobbleCC CC3.0)
After another 900m, the peloton pass to the left of the Solidify Lake Park with its traditional Chinese landscaping and temples looking somewhat at odds with the ultra-modern tall buildings surrounding it, then the Agricultural Museum a short while later before the route crosses the the wide Liangma River. The road bends to the left, passing over the Airport Expressway and a strangely, geometrically attractive interchange - at which point it becomes the North 3rd Ring Road East, soon bending left again and traveling underneath the Daguang Expressway. The peloton will continue for 2.9km, then arriving at a slip road leading up onto Beichen Road (39°58'2.46"N 116°23'28.63"E).
|China Science and Technology Museum|
(image courtesy of China-Tourist-Attractions.net)
Taking the road to the right of the sculptures, the riders continue north for 1.17km past the Yingdong Natatorium, more correctly known as the Ying Tung Natatorium after Henry Fok Ying Tung, a Beijing businessman who left a huge sum of cash so that the earlier buildings on the site - dating from the 1990 Asian Games - could be extended and developed to host some of the Olympics swimming events. They cross the North 4th Ring Road via the Beichen Bridge, then turn right onto the road immediately south of the Bird's Nest Stadium and follow part of the route used in the Stage 1 time trial in reverse, turning left after 390m for Hujing Road. 1.95km further on, they turn left onto Kehui South Road and continue for 520m west to another left onto Tianchen East Road. The finish line is in the same place as it was for Stage 1, 1.94km ahead at the East Gate of the Water Cube (39°59'26.97"N 116°23'7.86"E).
|The Water Cube (public domain image)|