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Stages of 2008 Tour de Qinghai Lake announced
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Organizers of the 2008 Tour de Qinghai Lake cycling race announced stages and participating teamson Friday, pledging success of the largest international cycling race before the August Beijing Olympics.

Tour de Qinghai Lake is held annually since 2002 in northwest China's Qinghai province. This year's event will go through from July 11 to 20, covering 10 stages daily by adding one stage of individual time trials as the prelude.

The individual time trails will make its debut in Tour de Qinghai, as the organizers hope to make the most important annual sports event in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau into "China's Tour de France", said Feng Jianping, under-director of the organizing committee.

The first stage is set for 3.8 kilometers individual time trialon downtown streets of the provincial capital Xining. Since the second stage, cyclists will pass around the Qinghai Lake while climbing several snow-covered, high-platitude mountains and travel through yellow seas of Cole flowers. The last stage is a circuit of Xining.

The overall distance is nearly 1,400 kilometers, including 1,354.2 kilometers in cycling.

252 cyclists and officials of 21 teams, chosen from nearly 40 applicants, will take part in the race, according to Feng. The teams, from 17 countries and regions, include 6 UCI (International Cycling Union) continental pro teams like Czech PSK, Ireland CSF, and Netherlands COS.

Five Olympic teams from Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, China and Hong Kong SAR will appear in the race. Some cyclists will attend the Beijing Olympics, said Feng.

"The cyclists this year are relatively younger, and the overall competitive level is further higher than that of last year," said he.

Tour de Qinghai will highlight its theme of "Green, Humanity and Harmony", said Jidi Majia, director of the organizing committee and vice governor of Qinghai, "We will hold a special and high-level sports event," the same standard describing the Beijing Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency May 25,2008)

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