Tour de France un­veils Shang­hai cri­terium

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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