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Allez! The Tour de France comes to Yunnan

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The annual gruelling bicycle race Tour de France (French pronunciation: ​[tuʁ də fʁɑ̃s]) is, as the name implies, primarily held in France. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 — except when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As one of the world's biggest sporting events, it has been described as "the world's most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race". Now, a cycling event organized by the official Tour de France — 'étape' — is coming to Yunnan. Fuxian Lake will be the setting of the race.

Tour de France à la Chinoise

The Tour de France Challenge (L'ETAPE) is highly regarded by global cycling enthusiasts for its renowned closed track setting and the authentic experience of the long-distance cycling challenge of the Tour de France. After 15 world championships (France, the United Kingdom and the United States and more) the final battle of the 2019 season will start on December 14th at Chengjiang, on the shores of Fuxian Lake. This is the first time that the Tour de France arrives in southwest China — previous 'étapes' have been held in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha and Zhuji. It is also the last chance for China to compete for the 2020 Global Tournament World Championships.

Setting the stage

Chengjiang County is located some 50 kilometers from Kunming and boasts excellent advantages for cycling: a good ecological environment, a profound historical and cultural heritage, tourism infrastructure. The biggest draw is, of course, the crystal clear Fuxian Lake. With its unique climatic conditions and natural landscape, it is popular with local and visiting outdoor sports fans.

This Tour de France 'étape' promises to be a challenging one, thanks to the highland topography of Fuxian Lake. In line with the venerable Tour de France road cycling event, a sophisticated event with a professional organisation and authentic atmosphere — including the famous Tour de France 'marketing caravan' — will surely entertain all riders and fans.

The Tour de France experts have designed a challenging and fun-filled track following the lake, with an altitude range from 1416 meters to 2123 meters and a total altitude gain of 2200 meters for the full 115 kilometer race. More than 27 kilometers of the race will be uphill. For riders not used to high altitudes and the local climate, these could prove to be extra challenges to be overcome during the race. It is the most challenging stage in the L'Etape China Series so far.

Surrounding scenery

Apart from indulging in a passion for cycling, this challenge will allow the racers to experience another kind of journey. The track combines characteristics of the plateau and the mountains, and the panorama is part of the cultural history of Chengjiang.

The natural landscape shows the beautiful scenery of Fuxian Lake. Starting from Chengjiang County, cyclists enter the Fuxian Lake Scenic Area, pass through the Moon Bay Wetland Park, to the Yuxi Xianhu Timewalk, follow a beautiful stretch of 28 kilometers to the quiet Haikou Xianhu Bay Scenic Area and loop back to Chengjiang.

All of this beauty will be heightened, by experiencing and overcoming the harsh challenges of sore muscles, technical problems and psychological barriers.

A chance to ride with a champion

Personal limits will be further teased and tested by the knowledge that a true Tour de France champion will attend: Marcel Kittel is the Tour de France ambassador for L'ETAPE Chengjiang.

Practical info and useful links
Date: December 14th and 15th.

Location: Chengjiang, Fuxian Lake.

The early bird registration for this event launched on September 17th.

There will be two races: A 115 kilometer full course (with a registration limit of 1,500) and the 29 kilometer short distance (with a registration limit of 500). The early bird registration fees for both races are 318 RMB and 80 RMB respectively.

It is worth mentioning that the top 10 percent of Chengjiang L'ETAPE results will win the opportunity to advance to the 2020 World Cup in the Tour de France in Nice, the only channel to the World Championships in France for domestic riders. 


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I'm excited for Yuxi to hold such a recognized event. Chengjiang County is part of Yuxi, is it not?

Will our Holland to Kunming bike riding Vera be participating in the much shorter 115km action, whether sideline or on the course?

Has century old Tour de France evolved to accommodate female riders?

I can't help but think of disgraced Armstrong when this race is mentioned. Was he repentant or still denying culpability?

So many questions.

115 kilometers is a bit short, usually stages for the Tour de France run around 180 to 200 kilometers. But it would be worthwhile (expense-wise) to have a chance to ride a bike around Yuxi without being hassled by traffic, which is by far the most unpleasant part of riding a bike.

This may be something big for Yunnan's cycling as the air quality will be similar to european events unlike previous ''étapes'' held in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha and Zhuji.

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