All you need to know with one day to go

November 16 th 2018 - 16:20

On the eve of the second edition of the Criterium of Shanghai, the Tour de France split their time between meeting Chinese fans and discovering local culture. The action starts at dawn with a team time trial demonstration pitting two teams with riders from different squads against each other. The main race will then feature 20 laps of the 3 km circuit, with 32 Chinese riders up against the likes of Sagan, Kittel, Thomas and Bardet.

AS RIGHT AS RAIN

A small village has taken over the heart of the biggest city in China. The Tour de France riders have set up camp for the weekend in front of the China Museum of Art, the magnificent pavilion built for the Expo 2010 Shanghai. Even though the sun struggled to pierce through the clouds, there was still a July vibe on the site that will host the Criterium tomorrow. Proof? The Devil travelled all the way here and looks as excited as ever, jumping around like a spook from the faraway mountains that are his usual stomping grounds. Even more importantly, the elite of world cycling came out before the race to meet Chinese fans. Marcel Kittel stole the show in the morning along with his wife, the former volleyball player Tess von Piekartz, who signed almost as many autographs as her husband! Fans who braved the afternoon rain got to see the two big stars of the last Tour de France, Geraint Thomas and Peter Sagan, already focused on their last race of the season, which they will be tackling in their cherished yellow and green jerseys.

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR THE FRENCH RIDERS

The AG2R La Mondiale riders got a refresher course ahead of the Criterium. Romain Bardet got an invitation to Pudong Sports Schools, which has produced about 40 Olympic athletes since it was established in 1972, and met with the 23 young people from age 10 to 16 who are enrolled in cycling. "They're wearing the Bourg-lès-Valence jersey", chuckled Axel Domont, watching the hard-working kids slalom their way around cones. After an autograph signing session, the aspiring champions continued training with enthusiasm and new sources of inspiration.

FIRST-CLASS BALLET

Fans who headed to the pre-race ceremony got to see the cyclists in attendance. Although ASO general manager voiced his hopes that "tomorrow morning, riders in the streets of Shanghai can inspire a young boy who, why not, will one day shine in the Tour de France", the riders do not necessarily shine in every field. Following a demonstration of traditional Chinese lyrical chants, they jumped into unfamiliar clothes with much less grace but, probably, much more comedic value than the singer who preceded them. After a crash course in the choreography that accompanies the songs, Geraint Thomas was about as flexible as Pierre Latour and almost as elegant as Marcel Kittel. Unfortunately, Peter Sagan did not get to test the upper limits of his vocal range and make what could have been the sound of a poorly oiled forklift. The former world champion will get to make amends on the road… in his element. 

TV: THE CRITERIUM GOES GLOBAL

Footage of the Criterium will be broadcast by 37 channels in 190 countries. 13 of them will be broadcasting the race live or with a slight delay, including several newcomers to the Chinese race: pan-American network GCN, the Netherlands' Ziggo Sport and India's Neo Sports.

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