The Tour of Beijing joins the Union Cycliste Internationale’s World Tour calendar for 2011, in an agreement spanning four years.
The Chinese stage race was officially announced as part of the UCI’s World Tour calendar in a ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday, and gives a clear indication that the UCI is serious about globalising professional road racing.
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“We are all aware that Asia has a huge pool of talent and immense passion for our sport and I am convinced that the whole cycling movement will profit from the very considerable beneficial effects of an event of this size,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid.
“Cycling in China, in particular, is currently experiencing very impressive development: after the 2008 Olympic Games, the popularity of road racing has just grown and grown. It is on the basis of this unique and extremely valuable platform that this new project has been launched.
“The UCI welcomed, and followed with great interest, the initiative of the Beijing Sports Bureau – who I have to congratulate and thank for all its efforts; its hard work, which will be to the benefit of all cycling.”
The five-day race will run from October 5-9, 2011.
Beijing has, of course, hosted a top-level road race in recent years – the 2008 Olympic Games road races in the city were run on a tough course that provided gripping racing. China also currently hosts three races that are part of the UCI’s Asia Tour: the Tour of Hainan, the Tour of Taihu and the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
As part of its move to expand professional racing out of its traditional European heartland, the UCI introduced the Tour Down Under, Australia, to its top-flight ProTour calendar in 2008. This was followed in 2010 with the addition of a pair of one-day events in Canada, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.
ProTour and Historic races have now been amalgamated into a single World Tour calendar for 2011.