China Returns To UCI WorldTour In October Through Dalian Wanda Group Deal
China will "return to global cycling's most prestigious circuit with a new stage race next year after the country's richest man, Wang Jianlin, announced an agreement" with the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) on Thursday, according to Jake Spring of REUTERS. The first race, part of a revised UCI WorldTour calendar, will be held in southern China's Guangxi autonomous region next October, organizer Dalian Wanda Group and the UCI revealed at a joint event in Beijing. China previously hosted the five-stage Tour of Beijing from '11-14 and the new event "marks a continuation of a spree of deals Wang has reached to improve the country's sport sector." Wang said, "China has the largest cycling population. This competition coming to China pushes forward national sport development." UCI President Brian Cookson said, "The UCI's main role is to grow and develop cycling globally and China provides us with a wonderful opportunity to engage with literally hundreds of millions more people." Wanda Group, UCI and the Guangxi government signed the deal in Beijing that "includes relating promotional events for cycling, with Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai signing on as lead sponsor for the competition" (REUTERS, 12/1). The AP reported the UCI announced "broad plans to develop the sport in China in partnership with Wanda Sports." The UCI said that the deal "includes creating a six-day Tour of Guangxi race on the world tour calendar each October, China hosting the UCI’s end-of-season awards gala, and building a development centre for young riders in China." The UCI said that China "will also host the new Urban Cycling World Championships annually" through '19 (AP, 12/1).