At a ceremony held Wednesday in Beijing, China, UCI President Pat McQuaid and representatives from the Beijing Sports Bureau signed an agreement on the organisation of a new stage race that will be part of the UCI WorldTour. The new event will be included in the WorldTour subject to the award of a licence by the Licence Commission. The first edition of the event, known as the Tour of Beijing, will be held in the region of the capital of the People's Republic of China from October 5-9, 2011.
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The agreement between the UCI and the Chinese authorities is initially valid for four years from 2011 to 2014.
UCI President Pat McQuaid expressed satisfaction at this agreement which represents a further milestone in the UCI's strategy for the globalisation of cycling.
"We are all aware that Asia has a huge pool of talent and immense passion for our sport, and I am convinced that the whole cycling movement will profit from the very considerable beneficial effects of an event of this size," said McQuaid.
"Cycling in China, in particular, is currently experiencing very impressive development: after the 2008 Olympic Games, the popularity of road racing has just grown and grown. It is on the basis of this unique and extremely valuable platform that this new project has been launched."
"The UCI welcomed, and followed with great interest, the initiative of the Beijing Sports Bureau - who I have to congratulate and thank for all its efforts; its hard work, which will be to the benefit of all cycling."
McQuaid called the quality of the Beijing Sports Bureau proposal "superb" and predicted excellent prospects for the new event.
"The concept of organising an event such as the Tour of Beijing would probably never have seen the light of day if this country and city had not had the immense privilege of hosting the Olympic Games," said Mr. Li, Director of the Beijing Sports Bureau.
"It is the unique legacy of the Games that has been the driving force behind our initiative. Beijing City has a clearly defined strategy going forward to deal with environmental and sustainable energy issues for its citizens and we see the Tour of Beijing as particularly well placed to support those strategies. The Tour of Beijing will be a catalyst to getting our citizens out of their cars and back on to their bicycles, the traditional mode of transport in China."
Li predicted that the most difficult part of organizing the Tour of Beijing was still ahead, but is counting on the support of sports and political authorities to make the event happen.
The high-level event complements the efforts of Asian Cycling's existing events, teams, sponsors and bicycle manufacturers. The move comes after the UCI in recent years expanded the World Tour into Oceania with the Tour Down Under and into Québec, Canada, with the Montréal GPs.