Hainan’s tropical Tour de France
One of these newer tours is the Tour of Hainan International Road Cycling Race which is celebrating its 6th year in 2011. The tour is making a name for itself as a major international cycling event, featuring 20 cycling teams from all over the world, including Pro Team Astana, Geox-TMC and Dutch Skil-Shimano, three successful Tour de France teams.
Cyclists from America, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Australia, Taiwan and China will gather together in Sanya, the resort capital of Hainan, on October 20th to start the 8 day Tour of Hainan. They will travel in a counter-clockwise route over various terrains including flat roads, hills and mountainous regions.
Starting and finishing in Sanya, the cyclists will cover a massive 1,399.3km, riding through 18 of the island province's cities and counties including Lingshui, Five Finger Mountain, Baoting, Wanning, Qionghai, Wenchang and the island's capital city, Haikou. The final day will include a race around the city of Sanya.
The influential 2011 Tour of Hainan is hosted by the People's Government of Hainan Province with the General Administration of Sport of China and CCTV, and co-organised by the Chinese Cycling Association, the Department of Culture Radio Television Publication and Sports of Hainan Province.
If you are lucky enough to visit Hainan during the 8 days of the 2011 Tour of Hainan (from 20 to 28 October) you will have the chance to see professionals of an international level compete for a prize fund of US $280 000. There are vantage points around the island so you can choose to head up to the mountainous regions to catch a glimpse of the cyclists, or stay in the busy Sanya City to see the beginning or the end of the race.
There are plenty of travel agencies offering tours to Hainan that specifically cater towards visitors who want to watch the race. Joining an organized tour is a great way to watch the sport as well as soak up the sights of Hainan, meet the friendly locals and indulge in some of China's freshest seafood.
A fantastic way of really experiencing Hainan, whether you visit the island during the Tour of Hainan race or at any other time, is to travel the island by bicycle. There are some fantastic bicycle routes both within the island's cities and through the rural landscapes that are suited to any type of traveler.
You can bring your own bicycle to Hainan, or they can be easily rented from bike shops in Haikou or Sanya. Prices are reasonable and you can rent by the day or for a longer period for discounted rates. Alternatively, you can buy a bike for around 2000RMB (approximately $300 AUD).
If you want to get out of the cities and explore the island, you can take a range of cycle trips that last from one day to 3 weeks. A week will give you a general idea of the island and allow you to experience varying landscapes including beaches and coastal roads and the mountainous rainforest that lies inland.
A popular tour option taken by many tourists to Hainan is the route from Haikou city to the coconut plantations of Dongjiao near Wenchang. This route covers about 100km and can be taken in 1 – 3 days, depending on your level of experience, fitness and of course, time constraints.
If you are starting or ending your trip in Sanya you can even take the central road to Haikou which covers about 250km. This road is in good condition and will allow you to pass through beautiful countryside and mountains. For more information on cycling in Hainan, visit http://www.haikouhostel.com/cycling-hainan.
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