Qinghai race gets tougher
Updated: 2013-05-02 05:02
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
The highest cycling race in the world is set to be held at an even loftier level.
The Tour of Qinghai Lake is the top (on several levels) road cycling event in Asia. It boasts a high-altitude route on part of western China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and will present riders with an even bigger challenge this year by being raised to a higher altitude.
Starting in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, on July 7, the annual race's 12 stages will cover 2,003 kilometers around Qinghai Lake and Qilian Mountain.
The exceedingly demanding event will also include three more 200km marathon legs and will scale up to 4,120 meters (225m higher than last year's peak) twice before reaching the final stage in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, on July 20.
The arduous course has not discouraged some of the world's leading cyclists, as this year's event has already attracted 154 riders who make up 22 teams from Asia, Europe and the Americas. They will compete for total prize money of $700,000, the biggest purse for a road cycling race in Asia.
The event has become an important festival for the local people in the rural region, and huge crowds line up along the roads to cheer on the passing riders.
"Qinghai lags behind the eastern provinces in economics and modernization, but the race provides us with confidence and brings us greater focus. Its success in recent years has had a long-term positive impact on the province's development," said Feng Jianping, the director of the Qinghai provincial sports bureau, last Friday.
Wang Wei, head of the Chinese cycling governing body, praised the event's contribution in promoting Chinese cycling around the world.
"Inspired by the Qinghai race, similar tours have been launched in China. Now, we have nine teams registered on the Continental level of the International Cycling Union and nine races here have been approved by the ICU," Wang said.
(China Daily 05/02/2013 page23)