Cheng Ji first Chinese rider in Tour de France

Ji Cheng
China's Ji Cheng pedals during the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race, from Cosenza to Matera, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Fabio Ferrari)

PARIS (AP) — Cheng Ji will become the first Chinese rider to race in the Tour de France when he lines up for Team Giant-Shimano at the start July 5 in Leeds, England.

Cheng was included Wednesday on the team’s nine-rider lineup for the 101st edition of the Tour. He will be part of Giant-Shimano’s sprint formations attempting to deliver Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb to stage victories.

Giant-Shimano coach Rudi Kemna said riding the Tour “will be huge for him and his country, and we look forward to seeing the impact this has on the globalization of the sport.”

Cheng was the first Chinese rider to compete in a Grand Tour race when he finished the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. Last year, he became the first to start the prestigious Giro d’Italia.

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