Political tensions between China and Japan see Argos Shimano withdraw from Tour of Beijing
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Political tensions between China and Japan see Argos Shimano withdraw from Tour of Beijing

by Shane Stokes at 6:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Beijing
 
Team has Japanese co-sponsor and rider

Tour of BeijingA month after being awarded a wildcard entry to the Tour of Beijing, the Argos Shimano team has informed its riders that it will no longer take part.

The news comes in the wake of the political tensions between China and Japan over the controversial purchase of islands in the South China Sea, named the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyo by Beijing.

The dispute has led to considerable unrest and saw Japanese riders and officials being asked to leave the Tour of China II after the prologue ten days ago.

VeloChrono.fr reported yesterday that the team would miss the race. VeloNation contacted Argos Shimano press officer Bennie Ceulen today, who confirmed the news was true. “Out of respect for the current circumstances in China, the team will not take part in the Tour,” he said.

Argos Shimano has not elaborated on the specifics of the decision. It features a rider from each country on the team; Yukihiro Doi comes from Japan, while Ji Cheng is Chinese.

Cheng had been a factor in the team getting a wildcard to the race, according to event owners Global Cycling Promotion.

“Argos-Shimano have a very competitive roster as shown in performances in two Grand Tours so far this year and the presence of one of China’s strongest exports in Cheng will give the locals a home crowd hero to support”, said GCP’s Alain Rumpf when the wildcard was announced.

The team’s aggressive performances in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España had also been factors. ASO is involved in running both races and is also part of the Tour of Beijing.

In addition to having a rider from Japan, co-sponsor Shimano is also from there.

The team features some very strong riders, including multiple Vuelta a España stage winner John Degenkolb and fellow sprinter Marcel Kittel. It is pushing for a WorldTour licence in 2013.

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