Froome and Contador to headline China and Saitama criteriums

Chris Froome and Alberto Contador will head to Asia later this month to headline a pair of criterium races laid on by ASO, owners of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. 

Contador took his final bow as a professional at the Vuelta last month, winning the penultimate stage on the Angliru, while Froome sealed the overall title to claim a historic Tour-Vuelta double after winning a fourth yellow jersey in July. The pair will both line up at the inaugural Tour de France Skoda China Criterium in Shanghai on October 29, with Froome then travelling to Japan to take part in the Saitama Criterium on November 4, which has been running since 2013

"The Froome-Contador duels left their mark on a generation of cycling fans: The final go-round will take place in Shanghai on the site of the 2010 Shanghai Expo," read an ASO press release issued on Friday.

Like Saitama, the new China Criterium will not offer serious or prestigious racing, but rather an opportunity for ASO to export its products and stars to the Asian market. Contador will head to China after riding the Japan Cup criterium on October 22, though he very much left professional life behind in Madrid on the final day of the Vuelta. That said, these sorts of criteriums have a habit of throwing up unexpected results. 

Joining Froome and Contador in China will be fellow stars of this year's Tour, Marcel Kittel, who won five stages, Warren Barguil, who won two stages and the polka dot jersey, and Rigoberto Urán, who finished second overall. Also racing will be Greg Van Avermaet, Olympic champion and winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix, another race owned by ASO. Other riders on the start line will include Michal Kwiatkowski, Petr Vakoc, Simon Geschke, Benrhard Eisel, Simon Clarke, and Koen De Kort, with more names set to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Aside from Contador and De Kort, they will all take the short flight to Japan for the Saitama Criterium, where they'll be joined by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data). The British sprinter crashed out of this year's Tour on stage 4 without a win but is second on the all-time stage victory standings with 30, and will make his debut at the criterium. 

China Criterium - confirmed so far

Saitama Criterium - confirmed so far

Team Sky: Chris Froome, Michal Kwiatkowski, Michal Golas
Quick-Step Floors: Marcel Kittel, Petr Vakoc
Team Sunweb: Warren Barguil, Simon Geschke
Dimension Data: Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
Cannondale-Drapac: Rigoberto Urán, Simon Clarke
Tour de France Japan Team: Fumiyuki Beppu, Yukiya Arashiro.

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