UCI President Pat McQuaid’s goal of making cycling a truly global sport took a big step forward today with the news of the creation of a new multi-stage race on the World Tour calendar, the Tour of Beijing, the first edition of which will take place in October 2011.
During a ceremony held in the Chinese capital earlier today, McQuaid and representatives of the Beijing Sports Bureau signed an agreement to hold the five-day race, which will take part in the region around the city, for four years starting in 2011, when the event is scheduled to take place between 5 and 9 October.
Inclusion of the new event on the World Tour calendar, which brings together former ProTour events and cycling’s historical major races such as the Grand Tours and the Monuments, is subject to it being awarded a licence by the UCI Licence Commission.
UCI President McQuaid said: "We are all aware that Asia has a huge pool of talent and immense passion for our sport and I am convinced that the whole cycling movement will profit from the very considerable beneficial effects of an event of this size.
“Cycling in China, in particular, is currently experiencing very impressive development: after the 2008 Olympic Games, the popularity of road racing has just grown and grown. It is on the basis of this unique and extremely valuable platform that this new project has been launched.”
“The UCI welcomed, and followed with great interest, the initiative of the Beijing Sports Bureau - who I have to congratulate and thank for all its efforts; its hard work, which will be to the benefit of all cycling.”
He added that: "The quality of the proposal presented to us is superb. The prospects for the Tour of Beijing within the UCI WorldTour are excellent.
“This high-level event will complement an already rich circuit of events, giving Asian cycling an exceptional showcase for its riders, teams and sponsors, as well as for the very many bicycle industry manufacturers.
“After Oceania with the Tour Down Under and America with the Québec and Montréal GPs, the UCI WorldTour is proud of the prospect of further expanding its horizons on the Asian continent, and more specifically in the magnificent country of China, with the Tour of Beijing," he concluded.
Mr Li, Director of the Beijing Sports Bureau commented: "The concept of organising an event such as the Tour of Beijing would probably never have seen the light of day if this country and city had not had the immense privilege of hosting the Olympic Games. It is the unique legacy of the Games that has been the driving force behind our initiative.
“Beijing City has a clearly defined strategy going forward to deal with environmental and sustainable energy issues for its citizens and we see the Tour of Beijing as particularly well placed to support those strategies. The Tour of Beijing will be a catalyst to getting our citizens out of their cars and back on to their bicycles, the traditional mode of transport in China.
“The most difficult part of the work is clearly still ahead of us. However, we know we can count on the support of the sports and political authorities and the many volunteers who will assist in achieving our objective of making the Tour of Beijing, with the support of the UCI and the passion of the Chinese people for the sport, a major global cycling event," he concluded.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.