Tour of Beijing confirmed as UCI WorldTour event
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tour of Beijing confirmed as UCI WorldTour event

by Shane Stokes at 4:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Little surprise as UCI/ASO race begins at highest level

UCI WorldTourAs anticipated, the Tour of Beijing has officially been given UCI WorldTour status, making it the first such event in Asia and one of the few examples of a completely new race being handed cycling’s top ranking.

Organised by the UCI in conjunction with Tour de France organisers ASO, the news comes as little surprise. The race has been given a four year licence at that level, and will start at finish near Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium between Wednesday October 5th and Sunday October 9th.

“Together with the City of Beijing we have brought together a world class event team – including the organisers of the Tour de France ASO,” said Alain Rumpf , former UCI ProTour manager and current director of Global Cycling Promotion, a company set up by the UCI to run such events.

“The addition of the Tour of Beijing is a crucial step in the UCI’s development of a global cycling calendar, with the UCI WorldTour now reaching Asia, Oceania and North America in addition to its traditional home in Europe.”

The race previously appeared to be in some doubt due to its position as a battleground in the tensions between the UCI and the top teams over race radios. The UCI has said that it wants to eliminate radios from all cycling events; the teams voiced their opposition and, saying that the UCI was refusing to negotiate, threatened to boycott the race.

However the AIGCP team’s association president Jonathan Vaughters recently said that he believed a solution was possible over the issue.

“Things are much more positive [than before],” Vaughters said in a video interview with VeloNation during the Tour de France. “The UCI has proven to want to partner with the teams and try to compromise a little bit and come to a good position regarding the race radios. We appreciate that compromise, for sure.

“We are not quite to a deal yet, so I can’t say definitively just yet that all the teams will be going to Beijing, but there is progress. There is a lot of progress there and I am very hopeful that we will get it out of the way soon.”

Although the race is undoubtedly a long way away and comes at the end of a long, tough season, there could be some clear benefits. Vaughters said that he recognised that teams could stand to gain a lot from the race. “Teams want to do the Tour of Beijing,” he said. “A lot of us have sponsorship interests that could come out of China…of course we want to participate in that race. However all the teams need to stick together on an issue that all of us feel very strongly about.”

Rumpf also underlines that sponsorship benefit, as well as suggesting that the sport itself should experience considerable growth as a result of taking the top teams to the world's most populated country. “We can now plan long term projects surround the Tour of Beijing, which will benefit the City of Beijing, cycling in China and the broader cycling family,” he said. “Importantly, UCI WorldTour teams can now offer with certainty their current and potential sponsors a presence in China for the next four years.”

With the inaugural edition now just over two months away, more details are likely to be released soon about this year’s race. Providing the agreement Vaughters mentioned comes to pass, the sport’s 18 WorldTour teams will fly to China after the road world championships in Denmark. Six days after the end of the Beijing event, they will then dispute the final WorldTour race of the season, the Tour of Lombardy.

The UCI has long said that globalisation of the sport is a major goal. Last year two one day races, the GP Cycliste de Quebec and the GP Cycliste de Montreal, were held. They also became WorldTour events despite being in their first year of existence.

Countries such as India and Malaysia have been mentioned as possible locations for future WorldTour races.


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