The UCI and Wanda Sports have signed an agreement that will see the newly created six-day Tour of Guangxi added the WorldTour from next October. A women's Tour of Guangxi also comes onto the calendar from 2017 and will apply for the Women's WorldTour from 2018. No precise dates of the race where announced.
The governing body have also announced its UCI Cycling Gala will be held in the Chinese city of Guilin which will also the host the first stage of the Tour of Guangxi. China will also host the first three editions of the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships from next year while the UCI and Wanda Sports have committed to building a satellite cycling centre for the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.
"We are absolutely delighted to announce this partnership with Wanda Sports which will provide a huge boost to cycling in China and I would like to thank Wanda Sports for their support and commitment to our sport," 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."
While the creation of the men and women's elite races is focused on the elite level and high performance, there will be mass participation events that allow "amateur cyclists of all levels and abilities" to ride parts of the course.
Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin explained that he believes the announcement will be a major boost to Cycling in China which will have its first ever WorldTour licensed team from 2017.
"We are extremely pleased to be announcing this investment in cycling in China," said Jianlin, who is China's richest man. "This partnership with the UCI and the region of Guangxi represents a major addition to our sporting portfolio. We know that China has a tremendous potential in cycling and we are proud that Wanda Sports will be instrumental in realising that potential, with the support of great partners."
The Wanda Group sport portfolio also includes World Triathlon Corporation and the Ironman brand, Infront Sports & Media, and a 20% stake in the La Liga team Atlético Madrid. In April of this year, it was reported that the Wanda Group was in talks to buy Tour de France and Giro d'Italia owners ASO and RCS Sport.
With a reported 600 million Chinese owning bicycles, Cookson explained that the agreement with Wanda Sports to create the new cycling centre, which will include a "250m indoor track, a BMX track and a road circuit," is a major boost to the sport and offers pathways to elite success.
In addition to staging races, it is crucially important that we have facilities to develop young athletes and I am particularly pleased that Wanda Sports will build and fund a development centre linked to the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland. In Rio, we had 34 former or current UCI WCC trainees competing for Olympic medals and with this investment by Wanda, it is clear that in the future we will see more and more Chinese athletes competing at top international level in all cycling disciplines."
The Tour of Guangxi is the second WorldTour race to be held in China, following in the footstep of the Tour of Beijing which was held between 2011 and 2014.