The never ending cycling season keeps going on with three World Tour teams – Astana, Lampre-Merida and Trek Factory Racing – still busy racing at the Tour of Hainan on China's tropical island while most of their colleagues are on holiday or already preparing for next year. Cyclingnews caught up with race organiser Wang Xiangzhou, who unveiled his intention to ask the UCI about the requirements for hosting a World Tour event as soon as the tenth edition ends.
"It's our plan but we don't have a timetable to achieve it yet," Wang explained. "In the future, we'd like to upgrade the Tour of Hainan from an HC race to a World Tour event. It's something exciting to aim for. Maybe we'd have to multiply our budget by ten. We'll contact the UCI after this race to know the requirements. We're not in a hurry. We like the idea of growing step by step, from the lowest category to the highest. It's like a building. We need solid foundation. Firstly, we have to improve all aspects of our organisation."
Lessons from the defunct Tour of Beijing, a short-lived World Tour event from 2011 to 2014, seem to have been learned in China. For its tenth edition, the Tour of Hainan is broadcasted live on CCTV5 every day for the first time. "In the near future, we want the race to be seen on other continents as well," Wang added. "The government of Hainan has chosen three sport events to showcase its beauties that make the island a holiday destination: cycling, sailing and golf. Cycling is unique because of so many spectators are able to see it."
"We listen to the advice but we want this race to exist for ever," he continued. "The Tour de France is a very good example for a bike race to last. We have a big motivation to keep on improving our race. I'm confident that we'll continue to make big progress in the next ten years. In nine days of competition, the route passes through all eighteen cities and counties of Hainan but our concern is to make it convenient for the teams with no transfers between stages. The hotel is always close the start and finish."
"Team managers already said the route is very nice and reasonable. We had a good feedback from media and cyclists about the queen stage from Dongfang to Wuzhishan last year, so we keep the same course this year but it becomes the second last stage instead of stage 7 to maintain the suspense for longer."
The race has begun with three bunch sprint finishes and two stage wins by Andrea Palini of Skydive Dubai and one by Sacha Modolo from Lampre-Merida while Astana is expected to shine on a hillier terrain with Andrey Zeits and Valerio Agnoli later on.