Chinese WorldTour team launched with Shane Sutton directing
A sponsor is still being sought and the goal is a Tour de France winner by 2025
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China's first WorldTour team is being planned for 2020, assuming the management finds sponsorship money.
The Global Cycling Project (GCP) management group behind the project has set itself a target of netting a Tour de France win by 2025.
Former pro and Eurosport commentator Brian Smith will manage the outfit with Shane Sutton, former Team Sky and British Cycling coach, directing.
"GCP will build a sustainable development program for the integration of international athletes to the WorldTour," read a statement on its website.
"The team will have a sole Chinese sponsor and offer a global marketing platform to the exciting world of professional cycling."
"The vision of GCP is to present a top tier WorldTour Cycling team and a 2025 Chinese Tour de France winner, building the exposure of professional cycle racing globally, while promoting the positive effects of cycling in China and reducing the severe air pollution issues."
The timing appears right for the team, with China's booming economy. The country is currently ranked second to the U.S. in gross domestic product.
The site lists Tim Kay as CEO. Kay manages and develops real estate. Smith commentates for EuroSport, managing MTN, Cervélo and the Endura teams over the years. Currently, Sutton is heading the national track team and has his hands on the local pulse to find new talent.
Teams have tried to dip into the Chinese market in the past. Giuseppe Saronni and Mauro Gianetti signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates and airline giant Emirates, but they were close to a deal with the TJ Sport group that was said to have investment from Alibaba, J-One and Wanda Sport.
Team Mitchelton-Scott - home to Vuelta a España winner Simon Yates - has a continental development team in China with seven Chinese riders.
China has already had some success at the top level. Cheng Ji became the first to race the Tour de France in 2014.
"Our development team will consist of Chinese riders we are developing for the future of cycling, they will be under the best coaches in professional cycling with an aim for them to achieve a position in our World Tour team," read a statement.
"The development team will be the stepping stone for Chinese riders to learn and develop in European road racing.
"With help and support from the Chinese Cycling Association we have Shane Sutton already Chinese track coach to help build a team in China to develop existing athletes and a team to search for new athletes to join our development programme."
Currently, Meiyin Wang with Team Bahrain-Merida is the only Chinese cyclist racing at the top level. That could change quickly depending on sponsorship money.
"GCP will build a sustainable development program for the integration of international athletes to the WorldTour," read a statement. "The team will have a sole Chinese sponsor and to offer a global marketing platform to the exciting world of professional cycling."
The team says it want to "promote Chinese cycling and riders alongside Chinese Cycling Association" and that the team would open the door for the sponsor's "investment opportunities in Europe."
The timing could be right for GCP. China is on cycling's radar now with the Tour de Guangxi closing the 2018 WorldTour calendar.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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