World Wide Cycling
of the Tour of Beijing 2002 (by Ruud Kooijmans)
At the end of October the Marco Polo Cycling Club participated in the International Tour of Beijing 2002. This stage race was being held in the North-east of China. It took place from October 26th to November 1st 2002. It is a completely new race in China, organised as preparation towards the Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
The team of the Marco Polo Cycling Club had the following, completely Dutch, line-up:
Ferdi van Katwijk
Team manager: Frans van Slagmaat
Soigneur: Joost Vijselaar
Mechanic: Cor Leijtens
Race program of the Tour of Beijing 2002:
October 26th: stage 1 - 40 km
October 27th: stage 2 - 115 km
October 28th: stage 3 - 176 km
October 29th: stage 4 - 93 km
October 30th: stage 5 - 115 km
October 31st: stage 6 - 100 km
November 1st: stage 7 - 95 km
The following teams participated:
6 Chinese teams: Beijing News Daily, selection Beijing, Team Ningxia, Team Henan, Team Gansu, Team Tianjin
Foreign Teams: The Aquitaine Selection (France), Sturmvogel München (Germany), National Team of Mongolia, Marco Polo Cycling Club
After a pleasant flight (10 hours) we arrived with the complete team in Beijing. First we had a short flight from Brussels to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to Beijing.
The organiser of the Tour of Beijing welcomed us at the airport and took all our stuff into one bus! (no problem at all!!) At first sight there was nothing to be afraid of: The weather looked fine, it was a sunny day and the sky was totally blue! But.... Outside it was a bit cold (Nearly 5 degrees).
The man drove us to our first hotel, which was situated near the old center of the city of Beijing. The first thing we noticed was the very busy roads and the behavior of the drivers, but we arrived without any accident. It seemed to be a good hotel.
After carrying our bags and having some lunch we decided to go out for our first training. We left our hotel at 16.00 h and that was a very...very busy time to go out for training in this 10 million-habitant city! It looked like all the Chinese people go home by bike, unbelievable how many people!!! We began to wonder: how in god's sake could they organize a cycling-race in such a city?!
After a "training" of 30 minutes we arrived at the hotel again. In the evening during dinner we met our guide Lianliang who could help us with the difficult Chinese language during those days.
In the next morning we did some shopping at the Xianshu market and we visited the center. In the afternoon we did our second "shopping-training" -this is a kind of shopping by bike-, of 30 minutes. After that we gave Jos a special treatment by one of the massage-girls (what the hell did she do with him???)
In the evening we had a wonderful dinner in the hotel.
Team manager Frans van Slagmaat (left) with Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault and Secretary General of the Chinese Cycling Association, Tian Junrong (right). (Photographer: Joost Vijselaar).
The first day of action. We left the first hotel by touring bus in column and went to the center. The start of the race was at the Tiananmen square near the Forbidden City. For us it was a good time to take some pictures just before the race. After that all the teams were presented to the press and the waiting people (and there were a lot of them!) There were a lot of reporters from television, radio, magazines and newspapers.
The first stage was only 40 kilometers. First we had to do one tour around the square with "our guest" and 5 times winner of the Tour of France Bernard Hinault and then he gave the sign for us to leave. Some people of our team were feeling so cold after this little tour that they decided to attack immediately (I won't tell any names).
After a quick race with lots of attacks the race ended in a group sprint and that was a prey for our teammate Mark Vlijm! He beaded some fast Chinese men and took the first yellow, green and blue jersey.
The result of stage 1:
1. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo)
2. Xiao Yechen (C)
3. Sebastien Dulucq (FR)
16. Stefan Cohnen (NL- Marco Polo)
18. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo)
22. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo)
28. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo)
33. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo)
All riders in the same time.
After the race we went to our second hotel that was situated at the border of the city. The rooms were very good and the food also. In the evening we watched television and saw Mark's victory in the news of 8 o'clock. So I can say ......Mark spoke Chinese very well!!!
Today we had the second stage of 115 km. Again the weather was very cold and a little bit windy. After some attacks a group of 6 men escaped out of the peloton. Of course one of our guy's had to be in this attack so I (Ruud) decided to join the six men. After some time another 6 men joined our group so we were in the front with 12 men now. I began to wonder were my teammates were but after some time Jos and ferdi joined the leading-group. Now we were with 3 men of the Marco Polo team in the leading group. With 40 km to go the strong rider of Mongolia Oggi (Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh) attacked and Jos and one Chinese guy reacted. They stayed in the front and it became a 3 men sprint. Jos beat the strong Chinese sprinter and won this stage. It was a very great victory of Jos. He also took the lead in the general classification.
Jos Lucassen wins the second stage! (Photo: Beijing Daily Newspaper)
The result of stage 2:
1. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo) 02.40:23
2. Long Jin (C)
3. Oggi (MGL) +0.03
7. Stefan Cohnen (NL - Marco Polo) +1.18
24. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo) +6.38
44. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo) +6.43
46. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo)
49. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo)
Jos Lucassen on the podium with the yellow jersey. (Photo: Beijing Daily Newspaper)
This stage (176 km) could be of great importance for the final ranking in this Tour of Beijing. First we had to do 10 tours around a very beautiful lake and after that we went into the mountains for the final of this stage. We knew that the finish line was at the top of a mountain near the Chinese Wall. In the beginning some guys of Mongolia attacked so it was clear that Oggi had made some plans for today. Mark gave Ferdi, Martijn and me the instruction to do our work in the first 110 km. After that Stefan and Mark could help Jos in the mountains. It was a very hard job to control the race because of the hilly-circuit around the lake and also because of the wind. In the sprint for the points we did some good work with Mark. He was getting closer and now he took the 2nd place in the points classification. The first 110 km was no problem for Jos. He was in good shape and he had two strong men who could help him in the last 70 km. At the last mountain Oggi tried to attack the leader but Jos was feeling very strong so there was nothing to be afraid of. In front of the race one rider of Mongolia was very strong and he became winner of this stage.
Teamwork: The Marco Polo Cycling Club leading the peloton to defend the yellow jersey. From the left to the right: Mark Vlijm, Ferdi van katwijk, Martijn Maaskant, Jos lucassen (jellow jersey), Ruud Kooijmans and Stefan Cohnen. (Photo: Beijing Daily Newspaper)
The result of stage 3:
1. Khuyagt Purevsuren (MGL) 04.35.56
2. Luanyun Feng (C) +2.21
3. Shoujun Du (C) +2.32
6. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo) +3.03
28. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo) +9.04
32. Stefan Cohnen (NL - Marco Polo) +10.07
36. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo) +19.56
43. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo) +30.57
51. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo) +30.57
After this stage we visited the Chinese Wall and took some nice pictures. We also bought "some" stuff at a market near the wall. The North Face was well presented!
The 4th stage was a race over 93 km. It was important to keep the race in our control. There were a lot of attacks but we only had to look for the riders in the top 10. It was hard working but we controlled the race. In the last 10 km a Frenchman attacked and I joined him. We worked together very well and in the last kilometer he attacked from the back. I was able to react and in the sprint I became the winner of this stage. It was a great day for me and I was very happy with this victory! In the sprint of the chase group Mark became 3rd. So we had two Marco Polo men on the podium.
Ruud Kooijmans won the 4th stage and wears the blue jersey of the stage winner. Here he is being interviewed for Chinese National Television. (Photographer: Frans van Slagmaat)
The result of stage 4:
1. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo) 02.12.11
2. Michael Malle (FR) +0.01
3. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo) +0.06
5. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo)
28. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo)
38. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo)
52. Stefan Cohnen (NL - Marco Polo) +0.17
Mark became Points Leader.
Mark Vlijm on the podium with the green jersey. (Photo: Beijing Daily Newspaper)
After the race we went to another hotel.
The 5th stage (115 km), the weather forecast said that it probably could snow today. It was a hilly stage with some mountains. In the beginning a group of twenty men attacked and only Stefan and Martijn were in it. It began very hard for us because we had to close the gap. The number 3 and 4 of the general classification were presented. After some time we were able to catch 9 of the 12 front riders. The 3 riders who were still in the front were not dangerous at all. Stefan attacked and tried to join the 3 leaders but he never could. After some time we saw that their advantage time was about 11 minutes so there was suddenly some panic in our team. We asked the teams of the number 2 and 3 in the general to help us closing the gap. So we started working together with 20 riders. After one hour of very hard racing we saw that the advantage time was still about 10 minutes and we thought: 'how in the world is that possible'? In the final kilometers we finally were able to close the greatest part of the gap, so everything was under control. Stefan became 7th.
The result of stage 5:
1. Quansheng Chen (C) 02.39.45
2. Tonh Yu (C)
3. Jiefang Yang (C)
7. Stefan Cohnen (NL - Marco Polo) +3.36
12. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo) +4.04
32. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo)
43. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo)
44. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo) +4.15
45. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo) +4.22
The 6th stage (100 km) was a circuit race over 12 laps. Half race a group of 25 riders was in the front. Jos, Mark and Martijn presented Marco Polo. But the group closed the gap so there were no front riders anymore. In the last lap, Martijn attacked and it looked like he could win this stage, but he was caught 200 meters before the finish line and Mark was able to win the sprint. Again a great victory of our sprinter and what a pity for Martijn!
The result of stage 6:
1. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo) 02.21.26
2. Felix Rohrbach (D)
3. Sebastien Dulucq (FR)
9. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo)
17. Stefan Cohnen (NL - Marco Polo)
44. Ferdi van Katwijk (NL - Marco Polo)
49. Martijn Maaskant (NL - Marco Polo)
52. Ruud Kooijmans (NL - Marco Polo) +0.09
This morning there was some panic about our leader Jos because he had become ill last night. It was up to Jos to decide what he wanted to do! He said he would try to race but he wasn't even able to eat! But he could try it.
The final stage (95 km) also a circuit of 10 laps. We kept Jos out of the wind and helped him as much as possible. After 50 kilometers 17 riders attacked and 4 of us were in this group: Jos, Mark, Martijn and Stefan. Those 17 leaders were gone and they could sprint for the victory. In the last kilometer there was crash and Jos was on the ground!! Stefan gave his bike to Jos and he could finish in time. Mark showed again his sprint quality to the rest and won his 3rd stage!!!!!
Finally we had made it: Jos became the winner of the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification!!!
Mark became winner of the green jersey as point's leader!
Three Marco Polo Cycling Club riders on the podium, this had to be celebrated, with champagne of course! (Photographer: Beijing Daily Newspaper)
The result of stage 7:
1. Mark Vlijm (NL - Marco Polo) 02.21.26
2. Felix Rohrbach (D)
3. Mathieu Remy (FR)
10. Martijn Maaskant +0.03
13. Jos Lucassen
15. Stefan Cohnen
18. Ruud Kooijmans +1.02
23. Ferdi van Katwijk
1. Jos Lucassen (NL - Marco Polo) 17.52.29
2. Oggi (MGL) +0.06
3. Shoujun Du (C) +1.14
4. Pascal van Bussel (NL) +1.28
5. Vincent Greneche (FR) +2.28
After the ceremony there was a diner-buffet at the hotel organized by the organization of The Beijing Tour. All the riders were together here and it was a nice happening. This evening we celebrated our victory again with some champagne!!
In the evening we went to a bar to have some fun and that was a nice experience.
This day we went out to visit the Forbidden City and go out for shopping. Some of our guys were really getting excited about this (again I won't give any names)?
We had to catch our flight to Frankfurt. Our guides went with us to the airport and everybody was really sad to say goodbye to each other. After a pleasant flight we arrived safely home.
For me it was a great experience to participate in such a race event. I never went out of Europe and I knew very little about China. That has changed now. The people were very kind and I think its countryside is very beautiful.
It was a very well organized tour. The hotels were mostly good and the food was also. During the last 5 days we also visited a restaurant called Mc Donalds (we couldn't see anymore Chinese food). The first bread that we got in the plane to Brussels was delicious!!
I would like to thank Frans, Jos and Joost for keeping us in good shape! It was a very nice team to join and I hope we can do some more races with such a team!!!!!
I will never forget those 10 days!