China’s cycling scene: nearly 1,5 billion inhabitants, but no road cycling star

Ask the biggest cycling enthusiast to name a Chinese rider and most of them will stay quiet. For a reason. There is simply no world-beating Chinese cyclist with a palmares full of victories in Europe. Not yet. The brand-new China Glory Cycling team wants to change that. “We are developing the next generation of Chinese road racers”.

China has the largest number of active continental cycling teams after Italy (eleven and fourteen respectively) and hosts many UCI races each year: nine. Nearly 1,5 billion people live in China, but arguably its most famous road cycling star – Meiyin Wang – is someone you have never heard of before, even though he raced three years with Bahrein Victorious between 2016 and 2018.

A former Chinese pro as manager 

How different is it in track cycling? Since the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, China has been a strong contender for medals in track events worldwide. One example: the Chinese national team claimed their first gold medal in the women’s team sprint, also posting a new world record.

These results are inspiring to Han Feng, a former professional cyclist for what is now called Team DSM, and now the Chinese team manager of China Glory Cycling.

Feng is now 36 years old, retired in 2014 and his best result was a sixth place in the Tour of Turkey of 2010. “We clearly have the talents in our country, but we need to improve in scouting and educating them”.

The approach of China Glory Cycling to achieve the goal of delivering a world-beating Chinese cyclist to the scene is different and unique from any other Chinese approach before. China Glory, that races on Pardus Bikes with EliteWheels wheels, is the first Chinese professional cycling team that races an international program, including races in Europe. According to Feng, this is essential to develop the Chinese riders.

“Racing in Europe is very different from racing in China”, he says. “In the Tour of Turkey, our Chinese riders were exposed to echelons for the first time in their lives. When we travelled to Belgium, we raced for the first time on cobblestones. In The Netherlands we participated in a few criteriums, which was also a unique experience. It is a long school for them, with meaningful learning experiences every day, and we see that the Chinese cyclists are picking it up quickly”.

This story is part of Nafent Magazine volume 3. Read the full story in our digital or paper magazine. Go to our webshop, or buy yours at one of our seventy partner places.

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