The day before the tour was due to start, they gave us the race manual. Five stages with absolutely no hills and only two stages over 100km. Some of you might think that sounds nice and easy? Well, yes and no.
With no pure sprinter here, we rely heavily on breakaways, hard racing and natural attrition to wither the field down. But with stronger teams based around sprinters here and not a single bump in the race profiles, it is not going to happen.
With the stages being so short and flat, it also means that everyone can keep up. The race is not hard enough to get rid of the riders that really shouldn't be there. There are several inexperienced local Chinese teams in the race and with nothing to make the race hard, they get a little over-confident in the bunch, making things very dangerous.
To give you an idea, stage 1 was 130km over a basically flat course. Everyone had fresh legs and was keen to get a result early. As a result, we covered the distance in 2hrs 43mins with an average speed of 47.8kph. It was absolutely full gas the whole race.