Despite having a few last-minute problems concerning logistics with one of the stages in Hong Kong, it appears the inaugural Tour of Hong Kong-Shanghai will commence unhindered when the race begins in Shanghai on May 3. Furthermore, Li Xin, vice-president of the China Cycling Association, would like the event to one day become 'Asia's own Tour de France'.
"We hope the tour will grow from strength to strength. Our target is to make it a super race classification in five years," said Li to the South China Morning Post. "Coastal provinces such as Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi will be reached by the tour and hopefully it will become an Asian version of the Tour de France in future."
Should this goal be attained, the tour would stretch from the Yangtze Delta of Shanghai to the Pearl River Delta of Hong Kong, crossing through provinces along the southeast coast of China.
This year, armed with a budget of six million Yuan (approx. Euro 620,000/ US$750,000), Asian-based teams from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Qatar will up against riders from Australia, Belgium, France and the United States, all vying for a total prize pool of $300,000 Yuan (approx. Euro 31,000/ US$37,500). Starting in the heart of Shanghai on May 3, the first of four stages will travel 120km to nearby Kunshan, which becomes the starting point for the following day's stage. On May 6, riders will depart from the AsiaWorld-Expo at the Hong Kong International Airport in Chek Lap Kok, before the tour finishes the next day with a criterium in downtown Sha Tin, one of 18 districts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, located in the New Territories.
The stage held at Hong Kong International Airport was the race organiser's previous stumbling block, as another event was scheduled to be held at the AsiaWorld-Expo two days afterwards. However, general secretary of the Hong Kong Cycling Association, Fredrick Chan Chun-hung, said the issue has now been resolved. "We have had some problems with the venue at the airport before, but with joint efforts from all parties concerned, including the police and the Airport Authority, we have resolved it," he said.