Political situation worrying for Japanese co-sponsored team
Team Argos-Shimano will not ride the Tour of Beijing next month, due to the current political tension between the China and Japan concerning sovereignty of the East China Sea islands. China had already asked Japanese citizens to leave the country, and the Dutch-based team has a Japanese sponsor and riders from both China and Japan on its roster.
“We will not ride there, due to the current circumstances,” team spokesman Bennie Ceulen told Cyclingnews. “We don't know what others will do. We have said that we will not go there to ride and we have nothing more to say.”
The Tour of Beijing is co-organized by Global Cycling Promotion, which is owned by the UCI, and is led by Alain Rumpf, who is monitoring the situation in China.
"What matters is everyone's safety and it is true that the situation can become worrying," Rumpf told Reuters after the expulsions.
“Global Cycling Promotion and the local organising committee of the Tour of Beijing discussed with Team Argos-Shimano the option of not participating in the Tour of Beijing. Due to the current circumstances, the team accepted to withdraw from the race,” race organisers said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.
“At this time, the current situation is not affecting the participation of any of the 18 WorldTour teams and all are expected to be on the start line in Beijing on the 9th of October,” Rumpf said in the statement. “Of course the local organising committee and Global Cycling Promotion are closely following the evolution of the situation.”
Argos-Shimano had been given a wild-card invitation to the Tour of Beijing thanks to the success in sprints of John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel, but also because it has Cheng on its roster, one of the few Chinese riders in the professional peloton.