ASO takes Tour de France experience to China

Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has signalled its intention to tap into the Chinese market by partnering with the Activation Group agency to form new events themed around the annual ‘Grand Tour’ cycling race.

ASO and the Chinese marketing agency will combine to host a ‘Tour de France Critérium’ event and a Chinese version of L'Etape in November. First held in 1993, France’s L'Étape du Tour is an organised mass participation cyclosportive event that allows amateur cyclists to race over the same route as a Tour de France stage.

The formation of events with China comes with ASO having staged the end of season Saitama Criterium in Japan since 2013. The one-day event was held for the first time in October 2013 as a means to further promote the Tour de France in Japan. The champion of the 100th Tour, Chris Froome, was accompanied by the green jersey winner, Peter Sagan, as well as the race’s leading stage winner, Marcel Kittel, at the inaugural event. Britain’s Froome, who claimed his third Tour de France title on Sunday, was again in attendance at October’s third Saitama Criterium, which was won by Germany’s John Degenkolb.

“The bicycle plays an important role in our lives,” Kathy Zhou, general manager of Activation Sports and director of Tour de France branded events in China, said, according to the Cycling News website.  “This simple two-wheeled vehicle has been a reliable means of transport for decades.

“Nowadays, the bicycle industry is enjoying an unprecedented boom in China, while cycling is particularly popular among the young generation, not only as a means of transport but rather as a lifestyle choice.  We are confident that this year's Tour de France branded events in China will provide exciting racing and offer a wide range of opportunities for the public to see both professional and amateur riders close to where they live.”