The organisers of the Tour de France have confirmed that the traditional end of season criterium will held in Shanghai on October 28 and 29, with a new Etape China sportif ride set for September 10.
The Tour de France criterium has been held in the Japanese city of Saitama in recent years but moves to China for 2017 as part of a new deal between Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and local organiser Activation Sports.
ASO has used its influence and bargaining power in the sport to convince Chris Froome, Peter Sagan and other big-name riders to take part in the criterium, before they end their season. ASO promises that “a selection of those who stood out on the roads of France in July” will be in action in Shanghai. 60 riders, including a selection of professional riders from China, will compete on a three-kilometre circuit based around the sites of the China Art Museum, just south of the famous Bund stretch of river and the distinctive skyline of the financial district.
Several thousand riders are expected to ride the sportif, with a 22km family ride also organised in the heart in the city. 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck is the new ambassador for the Tour de France Etape events and was in Shanghai for the presentation of the events.
ASO has recently expanded its influence in the sport by signing a development agreement with the Volta a Catalunya as it fights to maintain its role of leading race organiser in the sport.
ASO also works with the Tour of California and the Tour Down Under to help distribute television rights. ASO also organises the successful Tour de France Etape event in July and secured 100 per cent ownership of the Vuelta a Espana in 2014. It also organizes the Tour de Yorkshire and a long series of other events across Europe.
China is set to host the final of the UCI WorldTour with the Gree-Tour of Guangxi, organised by new race organiser and ASO rival Infront and scheduled for October 19-24.
"The Tour de France is reinventing itself and thriving in the context of the global development of cycling. We believe that Activation Sport, with its strong desire to develop a healthy and sustainable sport-oriented lifestyle, will be the ideal gateway for us to reach the millions of bicycle lovers in China," ASO president Jean-Etienne Amaury said in the official announcement of the event.