YINCHUAN, China--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The 18th Tour of Qinghai Lake (TDQL) reached the finish line in the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region after 1,851 km of fierce competition over 13 stages across three western provinces in the past 14 days. On Saturday, the closing ceremony saw Robinson Chalapud Gomez from Colombian team Medellín crowned champion. It also marked the “coming-of-age” of the race itself.
When launched in 2002, the TDQL lacked proper supporting equipment and infrastructure. Today, the annual race has developed into an internationally-recognized professional road bicycle race sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as one of its top Asian races. The TDQL has become known to the world as the “Race in the Sky” due to the unique experience and challenges of racing at altitudes of over 3km.
When the race was launched 18 years ago, many cycling teams turned down the invitation to participate. This year, 22 teams were selected out of the many more that applied, drawing a total of 150 pro cyclists from around the world.
In its first decade, the TDQL route was limited to Qinghai. Since 2013, it has stretched out to Gansu and Ningxia, adding new challenges and excitement for riders and drawing out more cycling enthusiasts and sports fans along the routes.
The extension "makes the tour extra challenging, but that is exactly why riders are so keen finish the tour to prove themselves," said Tom Van Damme, President of the UCI’s Professional Cycling Council.
Today, the TDQL has become more than just a cycling race. For international participants, it is a showcase of Western China’s breathtaking scenery, rich heritage, and abundant tourism resources. The race is also a window to build friendships and a deeper understanding of Chinese culture.
This year, TDQL took riders on a new redesigned route. In addition to circling Qinghai Lake and passing through varied regions of grassland, desert, and Danxia landform, for the first time, the race also took in the Caka Salt Lake area known as the "Mirror of the Sky.”
From its outset, the TDQL has taken environmental impact as a top priority. It is committed to building a race founded on “Green, Civilization and Harmony” that can go on for a century, engaging the world through the spirit of athleticism and sustainability.