- Title: China returns to UCI WorldTour with Wanda deal
- Date: 1st December 2016
- Summary: COOKSON WALKING TO PODIUM JOURNALIST TAKING PHOTO
- Embargoed: 16th December 2016 06:59
- Keywords: China Wanda UCI cycling sports
- Location: BEIJING, CHINA
- City: BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: China
- Reuters ID: LVA0035B1X8VZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: China will return to global cycling's most prestigious circuit with a new stage race next year after the country's richest man, Wang Jianlin, announced an agreement with the sport's governing body (UCI) on Thursday (December 1, 2016).
The first race, part of a revised UCI WorldTour calendar, will be held in southern China's Guangxi autonomous region next October, organiser Dalian Wanda Group and the UCI revealed at a joint event in Beijing.
"We are making, breaking new grounds here in bringing an event of this level to this part of China and this part of the world. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that this event and these initiatives are all very very successful. We will not just be doing the elite events we will be doing mass-participation events with your friends from Guangxi Province and we will also be doing everything we can to assist in the development of infrastructure, cycle paths, cycle lanes, green roads and so on," UCI president Brian Cookson said.
China previously hosted the five-stage Tour of Beijing from 2011-14 and the new event marks a continuation of a spree of deals Wang has reached to improve the country's sport sector.
The Wanda Group chairman has lead the charge to develop the country's nascent sports industry with a number of partnerships, including those related to basketball, soccer, triathlons and badminton.
"Compared to our population of 1.3 billion, the development of professional cycling is really quite bad. So this is the main reason why today we are organising this GREE Guangxi tour competition, this event coming to China will push forward the development of Chinese cycling," Wang told journalists at the event.
Next year's race will be about 1,000 kilometres long and is scheduled to last six days.
Wanda Group, UCI and the Guangxi government signed the deal in Beijing that includes relating promotional events for cycling, with Gree Electric Appliances Inc of Zhuhai signing on as lead sponsor for the competition.
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