China set to enter the WorldTour, but what’s the plan?

Late last week a Chinese-led consortium held a press conference in Beijing to announce “The First UCI WorldTeam of China”. The announcement generated significant interest within China and beyond, but actual details about the project are scarce.

Image: TJ Sport

A little under two years ago, on October 15, 2014, remnants of the traveling WorldTour circus checked out of the Beijing Parkview Wuzhou and waved goodbye to the abandoned Tour of Beijing for the last time.

Perhaps some of them took one last look across Beichen East Road to admire the iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, around which the final 117km stage – won by Lampre-Merida’s Sacha Modolo – circled to an unremarkable halt the day prior. Modolo’s teammate Xu Gang ended the race 11:16 behind overall winner Philippe Gilbert, his 56th overall placing the best by a Chinese rider in the event’s brief, four-year existence.

Few of cycling’s stakeholders publicly mourned the Tour of Beijing’s demise. Many saw it as a desperate attempt by the UCI to demonstrate ‘globalisation’ by selling their beloved sport to a country which they believed couldn’t give a damn about bike racing.

So when a Chinese-led consortium fronted a packed conference room at the same Parkview hotel last Friday for the “Announcement of The First UCI WorldTeam of China” – news of which was dropped on the laps of unsuspecting media only a few days earlier – what might the doubters have been thinking?

Read the full article at CyclingTips