UCI ProTour be run in Sochi from 2009 onwards. The inaugural race would take place from May 20 to May 24 2009. Here is Sochi-part of the «ProTour heading East» news article by cyclingnews.com:

As mentioned above, a five day event in the Sochi region will be run from 2009 onwards. The resort area is the location for the 2014 winter Olympics and holding a top-level cycling event there is part of the Russian government’s plan to tie other sporting events in with this.

The drive to have a ProTour race goes all the way to the top; Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was involved in that and will send his deputy PM Alexander Zhukov to supervise the race. The latter will act as the chairman of the race organizing committee.

For many years the area has hosted the GP Sochi, a 2.2 race which was held in April of this year. This will remain, with a new event in the same area being added to the highest rung of the calendar. «Sochi has been having its own race for the last 55 years. We are going to leave it there and have this ProTour race separately,» Gusyatnikov said. «The plan this year is to have a trial race, running from the 10th – 14th of September. Then next year the new [ProTour] race will be held.

«It will be the Tour of Sochi. Some people want to called it the Tour of Sochi 2014 to underline the Winter Olympics connection, but personally I am against that because we don’t want to mix up the sports.»

The first edition of the race will be five days long and is pencilled in to take place from May 20th – 24th. It will be developed over time, with additional roads being built in the area for this purpose. It may also become longer in duration, depending on how the first few editions go.

The first indications are positive ones. “Charly Mottet and Alain Rumpf came over to see the course,” said Gusyatnikov. “They were very impressed. Charly Mottet said, “ah, Paris-Nice!” when he saw it. The route goes along the coast, along a rather straight, undulating road. It makes it very interesting. Two stages will be flat while the other three will be harder. One finish will be in the Ahun mountain, with another will be in Krasnaya Polyana, the centre of the future Olympic Games. We plan to finish there on the Olympic Square, where the award presentation ceremony for the Winter Olympics will take place.

“The first two-three years will be the most difficult to carry out the race, because those lateral roads, that we plan to have, haven’t been built yet and there is only one road on the coast for now. This will, of course, create a problem for the local people, but I hope they will understand us. Once those roads have been finished, we will consider the length of the race; for now it will remain at five days, but that could change.”

Considering the news that the country will have one – or perhaps two – ProTour teams in 2009 as well as an event on this level, and also factoring in Gusyatnikov’s stated intentions that continental teams will be promoted, it’s clear that there is a lot of new impetus into cycling in the country.

When asked how this drive came about, he gave three reasons. “The first is that somebody in the government decided that we should take this direction, this is very important for the government. Putin stressed the importance of cycling in Russia, and so it took off. In addition to that, this very year is the 125th anniversary of cycling in Russia. We are counting from 1883, when the first cycling race took place on July 24th in Moscow.

“And the third factor is the enthusiasm of the president of Itera bank. He has united all the banks, Gazprom and the others, and through them the budgeting all came together.”

Leave a Comment