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UCI moves back into China in deal with country's richest man

New six-day stage race added to 2017 World Tour

The UCI has announced an agreement with Wanda Sports which will see a new six-day stage race, the Tour of Guangxi, added to the World Tour next season. The deal will also see a number of other cycling developments intended to grow the sport in China.

Inside The Games reports that the Tour of Guangxi will take place in October next year. An elite women’s race will be run alongside it, although that will be added to the Women’s World Tour before 2018. Both races will also be linked with mass participation events.

The race is the latest in a series of additions to the 2017 World Tour calendar with 10 other events having been added in August.

Dalian Wanda Group's chairman, Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China, said: “We are extremely pleased to be announcing this investment in cycling in China. This partnership with the UCI and the region of Guangxi represents a major addition to our sporting portfolio. We know that China has a tremendous potential in cycling and we are proud that Wanda Sports will be instrumental in realising that potential, with the support of great partners.”

It was also announced that the first three editions of the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships will take place in China in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The event will bring together Mountain Bike Cross-Country Eliminator, Trials and BMX Freestyle Park events.

The UCI Cycling Gala, which was hosted by Abu Dhabi in 2015 and 2016, will also move to China for 2017, taking place in the mountain city of Guilin, which will host the final stage finish of the Tour of Guangxi.

Wanda Sports is also to build a cycling centre to serve as a satellite to the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. Here, promising athletes supported and funded by Wanda Sports will have access to an international competition 250m indoor track, a BMX track and a road circuit.

UCI President Brian Cookson said:

“We are absolutely delighted to announce this partnership with Wanda Sports which will provide a huge boost to cycling in China and I would like to thank Wanda Sports for their support and commitment to our sport. The UCI's main role is to grow and develop cycling globally and China provides us with a wonderful opportunity to engage with literally hundreds of millions more people.

“In addition to staging races, it is crucially important that we have facilities to develop young athletes and I am particularly pleased that Wanda Sports will build and fund a development centre linked to the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland. In Rio, we had 34 former or current UCI WCC trainees competing for Olympic medals and with this investment by Wanda, it is clear that in the future we will see more and more Chinese athletes competing at top international level in all cycling disciplines.”

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