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Tour of Qinghai Lake provides Olympic hopefuls nice training ground
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09:30, July 12, 2008

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With less than one month remaining for August's Beijing Olympics, the 2008 Tour of Qinghai Lake opened on Friday in Qinghai of northwest China, providing a nice training ground for Olympic participants.

Being the largest international sports event held in China before the incoming Olympics, this year's race has been chosen by Olympic teams from Denmark, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, China and Chinese Hong Kong as a part of their preparation work.

"Many of them are aiming also at the preparation for the Olympics," said former International Cycling Union (UCI) administrator Lucien Bailly.

Bailly had been an official of Tour de Qinghai Lake in the past6 years. He believes those Olympic riders would make the race more important.

In the first stage Friday in the provincial capital Xining, Denmark Olympic team won both the individual and the team ranking. The 24-year-old Alex Rasmussen won yellow and green jerseys.

Rasmussen and all his teammates would participate in the cycling competitions in Beijing, 6 of them in the track and one inthe road race.

Rasmussen said he would compete in the Madison Track and other team programs.

"We'll go back to Denmark after the race, and then go to Beijing," he said after winning the prologue, a 3.8 kilometers individual time trial.

Among the UCI continental teams, Perutnina Ptuj from Slovenia has 3 Slovenian riders to appear in Beijing. It got the 4th place Friday.

Olympic hopefuls from Hong Kong and China also take advantage of the race, and they did not care too much about the results. The China team ranked the 17th place and Hong Kong 19th.

Asian cycling star Wong Kampo from Hong Kong got the 62nd place, and Li Fuyu from China ranked in the 75th. A total of 129 cyclists finished the first stage.

Wong is planning to attend men's 40 kilometers track point race in Beijing.

"The track racers also need some training on road," said the 35-year-old Wong, "I hope to win good places in stages where most parts of the route are on flat roads."

Li, 30-year-old who claimed six stage victories with Discovery Channel pro team in last year's race, would probably attend road race in the Olympics.

Li told Xinhua that if he were selected to represent his homeland, he would absolutely try his best. He is with the GE-Marco Polo team now.

"In only 28 days, Beijing will welcome the world with the opening of the 29th Olympic Game. The 7th edition of the Qinghai Lake Tour in the Olympic year carries more meanings," said Hein Verbruggen, International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission Chairman, in Friday's opening ceremony.

The 2008 Tour de Qinghai Lake has 10 stages from July 11 to 20,covering a total distance of 1,399.2 kilometers. It is the "highest" international road cycling race in the world, held on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which makes it naturally benefit the Olympic preparation.

Source: Xinhua

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