When I woke up to a UCI Press Release titled “Professional Cycling Council meeting – The Licence Commission to rule on Saxo Bank-Sungard team” this morning, I almost didn’t open it. Little did I know almost half the press release related to a new UCI WorldTour stage race in China. Huh?
Hot on the heels of Asia’s first UCI WorldTour (WT) professional cycling race – the inaugural Tour of Beijing was held in October last year – the ‘Tour of Hangzhou’ was given approval in principle during the six-monthly meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), held 9-10 February in Geneva, Switzerland on February 9-10, 2012.
The PCC comprises representatives from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), International Association of Professional Cycling Groups (AIGCP), Associated Professional Cyclists (CPA) and International Association of Organisers of Cycling Races (AIOCC):
Only three days will separate the 2012 Tour of Beijing, scheduled for 10-14 October, and the Tour of Hangzhou, scheduled for 17-21 October. Interestingly the last “monument” of the European calendar, Il Lombardia, had already been bought forward by two weeks from its usual mid-October position, therefore removing any potential scheduling conflicts for the Tour of Hangzhou.
The Tour of Hangzhou now only needs to gain final administrative approval from the UCI’s Licence Commission to break into professional cycling’s most prestigious racing calendar. Though the abovementioned press release did not mention who the organizer was, it was more of less confirmed by the following tweet from Alain Rumpf (President of Global Cycling Promotion) when he was asked by a follower if he’d be at the Tour de India in March:
When Cycling iQ asked (via Twitter) Rumpf for confirmation, Shane Stokes – writer for Velonation.com – quickly replied to verify this on Rumpf’s behalf, having already received confirmation from the UCI. Global Cycling Promotion (GCP), a profit-making subsidiary of the not-for-profit UCI, is therefore behind the two races most recently awarded WT status, and the only races of WT level in Asia.
Interestingly, neither “Tourofhangzhou.(any domain)” or “Hangzhoutour.(any domain)” has been registered at the time of writing, apart from Hangzhoutour.cn. It should be noted that even Global Cycling Promotion doesn’t have a functional website, only a parked domain. [UPDATE: within hours of this article being posted "tourofhangzhou.com", .net and .org had been privately registered through GoDaddy.]
Cycling iQ contacted Alain Rumpf by email today to request more information. To date, Rumpf has proven to be an efficient and open communicator, so further background will be added when a response is received. In the interim, enjoy this video of the well-embedded cycling culture in Hangzhou courtesy of the local “active transport” initiative