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"Chasing Dreams" Around the Island Race, The Missed "Tour de France Destiny" of Hainan

Time:2023-09-25    Views:180

    The Hainan Travel Investment Cup, the 14th Hainan Island International Cycling Race of 2023, will be held from October 5th to 9th. After a four-year hiatus, the Island Cycling Race returns amid great anticipation. This year marks the 17th edition of the Island Cycling Race, and in pursuit of its "century-old event" growth goal, the race has matured into a youthful event. As one of the few international competitions hosted in Hainan, the birth of the Island Cycling Race was like a ten-month pregnancy, and it nurtured Hainan Island into a place closely associated with prestigious events like the Tour de France.


    In 1995, the legendary Spanish cyclist Miguel Indurain won his fifth consecutive "Tour de France" championship, while professional cycling in China was still in its infancy. Chinese sports journalists at the time had a hard time interviewing these superstars who had reached the pinnacle of their sport. On a train traveling from central France to the Pyrenees for a stage of the Tour de France, a Chinese journalist finally managed to interview a young American face who had only turned professional three years prior. The American rider was surprised to see a Chinese journalist covering the Tour de France. After a brief chat, the reporter politely wished him good luck. This young man's name was Lance Armstrong, and a few days later, he won the 18th stage of the Tour.


    The following year, Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer. Real fortune didn't come until four years later when, starting in 1999, he embarked on a controversial yet unmatched era of his own.

图像2023-9-25 15.28.jpeg

American Rider Lance Armstrong 

        In the same year, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the company behind the Tour de France, and the Secretary-General of the French Cycling Federation (Fédération Française de Cyclisme), Mr. Bay, made two special visits to Hainan for inspection. They held a strong belief in the potential of Hainan and had an almost dreamlike vision: they hoped to organize a stage of the Tour de France on Hainan Island, allowing the entire island to host a leg of the Tour de France. Following this, the Chinese Cycling Association was also invited twice to inspect the possibility of hosting a stage of the Tour de France on Hainan Island.

       The Tour de France has indeed had its opening stages in other countries' cities, including Monaco in 2009, Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2010, and Liège, Belgium in 2012. Since the establishment of the European Community with the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the subsequent Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, the Tour de France's route expansion has never ceased. In one year, the Tour de France even passed through seven European countries. As the former chairman of the Tour de France organizing committee, Xavier Louy, once said, "The Tour de France is France's most beautiful embassy, showcasing France to the whole world."


    Hainan Island's central region is characterized by elevated mountain ranges, surrounded by hills, plateaus, plains, and coastlines that extend for over 1,000 kilometers around the island. This diverse and complete topography allows for the creation of varied and unique cycling routes and racing courses that don't repeat from year to year. Furthermore, the pleasant climate of the island, with long summers and no winters, makes it a perfect location for hosting a race season after the scorching heat has passed. These excellent natural conditions made Hainan Island a highly favored choice by the organizers of the Tour de France at that time.


    However, while good fortune smiled upon Lance Armstrong, it did not favor Hainan Island at that time. Due to insufficient funding and limited hosting capacity in various cities and counties of Hainan, the initial dream of bringing the Tour de France to Hainan eventually fell through. Nevertheless, it was precisely this connection with the Tour de France that, a decade later, gave birth to the Hainan Island International Road Cycling Race, launching another legendary chapter on this tropical island that even the Tour de France found intriguing and alluring.