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Local duo confirmed for Beijing Olympic berths

By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-25 08:38

The country's top cycling boss has denied reports that four Chinese men's riders have already qualified for the Beijing Olympics.

China Cycling Association Secretary-general Jiang Guofeng confirmed that Wong Kam Po had followed Li Fuyu's ProTour qualification, but stressed others mentioned in various dispatches still had more work to do.

"I saw the reports saying three Chinese cyclists have gained enough points from the 2007 UCI World Class-B Championships last month and Li Fuyu of Discovery Channel also won a spot of the Beijing Olympics," Jiang told China Daily. "Actually it was not all right."

Reports have been rife that Li, the only Chinese member of a top professional team, became the first to qualify for the Olympic road race by finishing fourth with his Discovery Channel in the ProTour Team Time Trial in Eindhoven of the Netherlands last month. Ma Haijun, Song Baoqing and Hong Kong cyclist Wong Kam Po had reportedly followed suit at the World Class-B Championships in South Africa early this month.

Jiang revealed that Wong did have secured an Olympic road race berth after finishing fourth in the South African equivalent while Li also have unofficially qualified.

But he advised that Ma and Song still have a struggle ahead because the individual time trials in Africa, where Ma won gold and Song finished fourth, were not International Cycling Union (UCI) endorsed qualifiers.

"Only Wong's result is recognized as his event is the Olympic qualifying competition," Jiang confirmed. "Ma and Song still need other ways to advance into the Olympic Games."

The cycling supremo expressed his pleasure with the progress made recently by Chinese riders while explaining qualification requirements during last week's sixth annual Tour of Qinghai Lake,

Ma emerged clad in the blue jersey as Asia's best rider during the 1,400km nine-stage event, finishing 19th overall after a grueling four months at the UCI World Cycling Center in Switzerland.

The benefits of that experience were patent in his dramatic improvement from last year, when he finished 30th overall at the corresponding event.

Li clinched five from a possible nine blue jerseys before surrendering the coveted shirt to Ma in the final two stages.

Li finished 21st to register the best individual result for his feted ProTour team.

"Some of the key national riders are riding very well and have showed impressive performances after they have gained experienced in pro teams or overseas training and competitions," Jiang noted.

"Considering the overall level is higher than last year's race, with the participation of one ProTour team and seven continental pro teams, I am confident Chinese riders have the potential."