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Tour de France heads to China with Criterium in Shanghai

Stars of this summer's French Grand Tour will head to Shanghai in October for new event...

The Tour de France – or to be specific, a Criterium organised by race owners ASO – is heading to China.

On the last weekend of October, the Tour de France China Criterium will take place in Shanghai, and follows a similar event held in Saitama, Japan for the past four years.

Some of the biggest stars from this summer’s French Grand Tour will join local Chinese riders for the race on a three-kilometre circuit based around the site of the 2010 Universal Expo and the China Art Museum.

Only one Chinese rider has completed the Tour de France – Ji Cheng, who rode the 2014 edition of the race with Giant-Shimano and finshed as lanterne rouge in last place.

He retired at the end of last season at the age of 29 after a decade with the team.

Ahead of the Tour de France China Critérium, the city of Changsa – the birthplace of Chairman Mao – will host the Etape China by le Tour de France, with several thousand cyclists expected to take part.

The weekend of the Criterium itself – 28 and 29 October – Shanghai will also see a 22-kilometre family ride starting at the city’s 468-metre tall Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower.

France and Shanghai have a longstanding connection, with the European country administering the area of the city known as the French Concession from 1849 to 1943, and which remains a popular tourist destination today thanks to its distinctive fee

Jean-Etienne Amaury, president of ASO, which launched the event in partnership with Activation Sport, said: “We want to share the passion all over the world. The Tour de France is reinventing itself and thriving in the context of the global development of cycling.

“We believe that Activation Sport, with its strong desire to develop a healthy and sustainable sport-oriented lifestyle, will be the ideal gateway for us to reach the millions of bicycle lovers in China.”

The Tour de France Criterium in Saitama, Japan, has attracted upwards of 200,000 spectators since it was launched in 2013, with last year’s edition featuring Tour de France winner Chris Froome and world champion Peter Sagan.

There’s very much an end-of-term feel about the event, with pre-race publicity last year seeing the pair and other riders dressing in imperial kimonos as well as making and eating Mochi, a traditional Japanese cake.

> The Sagan Samurai - and Chris Froome in the yellow kimono

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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