The five-stage Tour of Beijing starts tomorrow and it is what it says on the tin – a tour of Beijing. It’s not exactly a highlight of the cycling calendar and any enthusiasm I might have had for an event in a relatively friendly timezone has been dampened as a result of the exclusion of Japanese team Argos Shimano because of tension over some “disputed islands”. Anthony Tan conducted an informal twitter poll to gauge interest in the race earlier today and indifference sums up the responses I saw. For those of us who like our cycling with a side of cow-spotting there is unlikely to be anything to prompt us to overcome ennui. Once stage one is over (12 circuits of a course between Tiananmen Square and the Bird’s Nest Stadium) the race will leave the congestion of the city proper to travel through some less built-up countryside, so there might be livestock.
Having spent much of my time in Beijing eating my bodyweight in duck – occasionally changing it up with pork – I was surprised to see that My Daily Cow lists 38 Chinese cattle breeds.
Images: Kranky Kids
The breeds originating closest to Beijing are the Jinan (which is found in Shandong and Hebei) and the Luxi (also from Shandong). It’s possible that any black and white dairy cattle we spot might be the literally named Chinese Black and White, developed from breeding North American Holsteins, Dutch Pied and Friesians with local cattle.
For stage one, however, I discovered that the city of suburban Beijing does have a link with cattle-raising, although the term “experimental farm” does tend to arouse suspicion. Suspicion that the headline “Cows churn out ‘human breast milk’” does nothing to alleviate, despite the punny Moo-ove over Mum subhead. I’m guessing that the team chefs will also have taken note of the ban on beef consumption that was imposed on China’s Olympians prior to the London games and won’t be taking any chances…