Tour de France unveils Shanghai criterium
SHANGHAI: Cycling’s Tour de France will stage a Shanghai criterium featuring top riders this year as it bids to attract a following in China, organisers have said.
An “Etape China” (China Stage) for thousands of enthusiasts will be held in Changsha in September, before the criterium for elite riders in Shanghai on Oct 29.
“There is growing interest in cycling in China. We want to help develop the sport,” Jean-Etienne Amaury, president of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser of the Tour of France, said.
“If there are Chinese teams, there will also be interest from Chinese sponsors,” he added.
A 60-strong peloton, including top international cyclists and leading Chinese riders, will contest the multi-lap Shanghai race over a three-kilometre course taking in city landmarks.
Since 2013, a similar event has been held every year in Japan, with three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome among the riders taking part.
Despite its exalted status in cycling, the Tour de France doesn’t have a strong following in China, where bikes are still mainly considered as a means of transport.
Only one Chinese cyclist, Cheng Ji, has ever finished the race. He came last, in 164th place, in 2014. AFP