Cycling-Russia keen to stage mini Tour de France

SOCHI, Russia, April 16 Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:13pm EDT

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SOCHI, Russia, April 16 (Reuters) - Russia hopes to benefit from the cycling governing body's (UCI) push for globalisation by staging a World Tour race which could turn out to be like 'a mini Tour de France'.

Alexander Gusyatnikov, a senior official with the Russian Cycling Federation (FVSR), said Russia wanted to organise a week-long road race as early as next year.

"It's an ambitious project but we think we can do it," Gusyatnikov told Reuters following this month's Tour of Sochi, an annual international stage race along the Black Sea coast.

"We plan to call it the Tour of Russia -- a smaller version of the famous Tour de France race. It would start in St Petersburg, continue to Moscow, then riders would fly to Sochi for another three or four days through the Caucasus mountains.

"We hope to submit our proposal to UCI by June to have the race on the international calendar for next year but if we're not ready next year we'll definitely stage it in 2014," he added.

However, Gusyatnikov conceded that "money and (good) roads" were needed if Russia wants to stage a major cycling race.

Russia has won the rights to host many major sporting events, including the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the 2018 soccer World Cup. Sochi will also host the country's first Formula One grand prix from 2014. (Reporting By Gennady Fyodorov, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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