NANNING, China (VN) — It took some time, but the riders now say “it’s pretty cool” to race in China and at the 2019 Tour of Guangxi this week.
After the Tour of Beijing WorldTour race and now the Tour of Guangxi, the organizers seemed to have found the magic mix needed to welcome the international peloton.
“Actually, in the last few years more and more people are coming to see the races and you see they are becoming passionate about cycling compared to the first year I came here, 2011,” Italian Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) told VeloNews.
“Then, almost nobody truly understood what we were doing on the road with bikes and now, you can see that more often especially young people coming in bike clothes and with bikes, and that they follow cycling because they know who we are. So it’s pretty cool.”
This year, the Tour of Guangxi runs the same course from the Beihai coast in the south of China to the famous Guilin town where newly-weds often take their wedding photos.
The Guangxi organizers learned from the former Tour of Beijing and from its first two years. Trentin had been there in Beijing and now again races in Guangxi another time.
“It’s a nice race,” said David De La Cruz (Ineos), who is in China for the first time.
“It’s nice to experience a new country. So it’s so different to what we can see in Europe. And especially after a year that I didn’t race too much. I was looking forward to come here and finish the season here.
“It’s good to finish the season with good feeling, especially for the start of the next year with a great memory from the year before. I hope that I can get a good result. After the Vuelta a España, I was trying to keep the condition and let’s see if I can get a good result here.”
The sprinters dominated the early days of the race, which is now in Nanning, a city of six million people.
“It’s a really comfortable race,” said Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe). “It’s good for the end of the season because it’s really easy to roll in the peloton, just in the end, the last 20kms are full-gas.”
The riders spoke among the massive skyscrapers popping up around Nanning. This year, the race finishes near a new arts center.
“It’s different here, but in Beihai it was nice to walk into the fish market,” Trentin added.
“It’s good to see different cultures and it’s also nice to have this view of the world.”
“It’s quite a massive city,” De La Cruz explained. “It’s a big country, the people look really friendly and they are really happy to host, so it’s nice.
“When you see something different, it doesn’t matter if it’s better or worse, it’s always interesting and it’s one of the nice things of cycling, that you can you can see the rest of the world.”