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Cheng becomes the first Chinese starter and finisher of the Tour de France

By:
Cycling News
Published:
July 28, 2014, 6:00 BST,
Updated:
July 28, 2014, 7:18 BST
Race:
Tour de France
Cheng Ji (Giant-Shimano) made history in finishing the Tour de France

Cheng Ji (Giant-Shimano) made history in finishing the Tour de France

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Giant-Shimano rider lantern rouge also last on final stage

Ji Cheng made history when selected for Giant-Shimano's 2014 Tour de France team as he became the first Chinese rider in 101 editions of the race to represent his country.

Frequently seen at the front of the peloton closing down breakaways, the 27-year-old suffered when the raced headed upwards and subsequently finished the Tour in Paris over six hours down on the winner of Nincenzo Nibali (Astana) in 164th place and collected the Lanterne Rouge. Cheng was 6:02:24 slower than Nibali which is the biggest deficient between first and last place since 1954 when Marcel Dierkens finished 6:07:29 behind Luison Bobet.

The final day of the Tour tends to be a procession up-and-down the Champs-Élysées but it wasn't an easy day for Cheng who crashed with around 40km left to race but managed to continue on. He finished the day in last place, 9:25 minutes down on teammate Marcel Kittel who won the final stage for a second consecutive year.

Cheng was listed in the post-race medical communiqué as suffering from "left elbow and knee trauma" but by finishing he ensured that he made history as the first Chinese rider to complete La Grande Boucle. Giant-Shimano also finished the race with the loss of only one rider - Dries Devenyns crashed out of the race last Saturday.

Giant-Shimano's coach Aike Visbeek explained that the team had to readjust its plans for the final sprint when Cheng crashed but was proud of his whole team.

"It was a nerve racking final today," Visbeek said. "We lost Cheng in a crash before the sprint and then it was a hard fight for position. The game plan was to get Marcel into the final corner in the first four riders with the accelerator and lead-out man of the sprint formation.

"The guys did this well and we can be proud of their performance today and of a superb finishing sprint once again."

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