World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has announced that it has approved in principle the addition of a new, five-day stage race in China to its WorldTour Calendar for 2012. It is proposed that the new race, the Tour of Hanghzhou, would begin in the week following the Tour of Beijing in October, which itself made its debut only last year.
The decision was announced following the two-day meeting in Geneva this week of the UCI’s Professional Cycling Council (PCC). Before it can be formally added to the UCI WorldTour Calendar, the Tour of Hanghzhou needs to apply for a licence from the UCI’s licence commission; given it is bring organised by the UCI’s own Global Cycling Promotion company that organises the Tour of Beijing, that appears to be a formality.
The race would become the 28th event on the UCI WorldTour Calendar, and the fifth outside Europe – the Tour Down Under, Tour of Beijing and two late-season one-day races introduced in Canada 2010 being the others, in line with the UCI’s stated aim of globalising the sport and expanding it outside its traditional European heartland.
UCI President Pat McQuaid said: “It is a natural step for cycling which is currently enjoying a period of huge growth worldwide.
“This will generate great visibility for teams and riders and can be expected to give a big boost to cycling.
“The injection of funding directly benefits the sport with financial returns from the new races re-invested into cycling and also profiting teams and other stakeholders down the line.
“It is no secret that success breeds success and the current boom in cycling is good news for cyclists and cycling lovers across the board.
“We are very pleased with today’s decision which comes as part of UCI’s ongoing sustainable development of the sport,” he concluded.
Administratively, Hanghzhou is defined as one of China’s sub-provincial cities, although that nomenclature is a bit misleading for foreigners – at 16,847km, the area is bigger than the historical county of Yorkshire before it was broken up, and similarly mixes major conurbations with sparsely populated countryside.
Located 180 kilometres southwest of Shanghai in the Yangstze river delta, in common with other cities in China, the city of Hanghzhou itself has undergone rapid development over the past two decades.
The city, reputedly visited by Italian explorer Marco Polo who described it as “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world,” retains many historical buildings particularly around the West Lake area, and its scenery and history make it a popular tourist destination within China.
Last year’s inaugural edition of the Tour of Beijing saw then HTC-Highroad rider Tony Martin win the overall from Garmin-Cervelo’s David Millar, with another British rider, Chris Froome of Team Sky, third.
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.