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Cyclists praise women's World Cup route

THE first UCI (International Cycling Union) Women's Road World Cup in Asia began on a wet, windy and misty day on scenic Chongming Island, and riders praised the track, vowing to return next year.

The 138.6-kilometer tour on May 5-7 drew around 100 athletes from 17 top teams, such as Australia, Germany and the Netherlands.

First prize went to Ina Yoko Teutenberg, a 35-year-old German cyclist who finished in three hours, 30 minutes and 17 seconds.

The International Cycling Union plans its next two successive world cups in the island county.

The newly opened Changjiang Tunnel-Bridge, connecting the island with downtown Shanghai, was the highlight of the International Cycling Union tour supported by the Chongming County government.

Chen Zhide, director of the Chongming Sports Bureau, says that the World Cup promoted a low-carbon lifestyle and environmentally friendly sports, part of a "Better City, Better Life," the World Expo 2010 theme.

The scenic island county has introduced alternative energy sources as well as organic agriculture and salvaged an endangered wetland area.

Though the opening day was gray and drizzling, the cyclists were undaunted and relished the challenge of the tunnel-bridge.

"The bridge is fresh and exciting for riders," Teutenberg says. "It's more challenging than flat roads and is a good way to break up the pack of riders."

"To some extent, it made up for the route's lack of hills," says Shen Jinkang, chief coach of the China Chongming Island Giant Women Cycling Team. The island is generally flat.

"This kind of track widens the gap among contenders and makes it more exciting for spectators," he says. "Riders must concentrate to avoid crashing."

In the face of rain and mud splashing on them, the women forged ahead.

Before this World Cup, many of the cyclists had competed in the 2010 Tour of Chongming Island, a top-rated 2.1 race of UCI.

The tour this month was divided into three stages and cyclists competed for the leader's jersey and a prize of US$40,000.

Teutenberg also won the first and the third stages. She praised the spectators and smooth operation of the race.

"This is my first trip to China and I enjoy the experience and the fans," she says. "I hope to return here next year."

More "green" events

She says she hopes more coffee shops would open in Chongming.

Teutenberg started racing when she was six, trained by her older brothers. After high school graduation, she joined a professional team. Though her brothers are professional cyclists, she surpasses them in sprints.

"I enjoy the victory of the campaign," she says.

The somewhat remote island county of Chongming at the mouth of the Yangtze River is becoming more environmentally friendly and trying to attract "green" events.

In the past seven years it has held three national cycling races and four international contests. From 2006 to 2009 it attracted more than 10 internationally known teams.

Chongming Island covers around 1,400 square kilometers and is China's third-largest island, after Taiwan and Hainan. Its seaside views and countryside, crisscrossed by flat roads, make it ideal for cycling.


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