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Tour of Hainan survives two typhoons

WANNING, China (VN) — The Tour of Hainan (UCI 2.HC) will kick off this Saturday, thanks to a monumental effort by the Chinese government to clean up the mess left by two separate typhoons. More than 3,000 Chinese government personnel have worked tirelessly over the past 72 hours since Typhoon…

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WANNING, China (VN) — The Tour of Hainan (UCI 2.HC) will kick off this Saturday, thanks to a monumental effort by the Chinese government to clean up the mess left by two separate typhoons.

More than 3,000 Chinese government personnel have worked tirelessly over the past 72 hours since Typhoon Sarika slammed China’s southern island province of Hainan on Tuesday in order to return more than half a million residents to their homes.

The roadways, many of which are set to be used in the nine-stage, 1,500-kilometre road race, were littered with debris flung across the countryside after winds in excess of 100km/h, which ripped into power lines, buildings and farmlands.

While repair efforts are rapidly underway, VeloNews spoke with both city and race officials a day before the opening stage in Wanning.

“The people come first, then the race,” said Wanning Deputy Mayor Wang Rulong. “We have suffered a massive amount of damage, but we will work together to repair and rebuild. This race means more this year, because we have worked so hard to save it. Perhaps the riders can find inspiration from our efforts to help them when things get tough late in the race.”

The Category 4 typhoon, which claimed two lives in the Philippines earlier in the week, reached maximum wind speeds of up to 215km/h over the Pacific Ocean and caused an estimated $80 million in damage due to wind, flooding and landslides across the Philippines, Vietnam and China.

On Friday morning, a stronger, deadlier typhoon named Haima turned away from Hainan toward China’s mainland hitting Guangdong – about 105 miles east of Hong Kong.

The latest cyclone, initially classified a Cat 5, killed 13 people in the Philippines before dropping to a Cat 1 tropical depression by the time it reached China’s mainland.

Race general manager Chen Xiaohua praised the vigorous cleanup over the past three days.

“We are very appreciative of the government’s support in both the community and the race,” Xiaohua said. “Without their support we could not start the race. But it’s not just the city of Wanning, it’s all the cities along the race route that have done a great job in terms of roads, electricity and infrastructure. There are a lot of logistics involved in delivering an event of this scale, and we really appreciative to all their support and teamwork.”

With the bad weather behind it, the race welcomes 20 teams from around the globe, including three WorldTour squads – Astana, Lampre-Merida and Giant-Alpecin.

“This year it was a typhoon, in years past it was something else,” Xiaohua admits. “There is always something unexpected that arises, but each year we have learned from our experience and improved this race. We have the confidence we will deliver a high-quality, high-level race that every rider and spectator can safely enjoy, and that the community can be proud to host.”