ORGANISERS of the Kent Tour of China insist they are not being threatened by another professional international race in China next February. A bilateral agreement between the governments of China and France has paved the way for organisers of the Tour de France to become involved in another international cycling race in Hainan province next year, but the event is being treated by Tour organisers as just another race in China. Organisers said the Hainan race would not threaten the inaugural Tour which starts at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on October 26 even though many of the big names in the cycling world are being lined up for the Hainan race with senior Tour de France and French sports ministry officials due to sign a contract at the end of August. Mike Plant, president of Medalist Offshore Ltd - organisers of the Tour of China - said: 'This [China] is a big country and there are lots of opportunities in cycling. 'The Chinese Cycling Association has a certain responsibility to promote cycling in China and they are sanctioning another event. 'Our event is a national tour which is one of a kind in the country just like the Tour DuPont is the national tour of the United States and the Tour de France is the national tour of France. 'We don't feel threatened by the event. We're confident that we can hold a successful event and that we can continue to grow. We're very confident of bringing the top riders to China,' said Plant who believes the Tour will eventually rank alongside those other great road races. He said there had been no progress in trying to tie the Tour of China with the Tour DuPont and Tour de France as part of a triple crown series, but said they would continue to work hard to achieve this goal. A world-class field is being assembled for the start of the Tour with the likes of American Lance Armstrong, Canada's Steve Bauer, Colombia's Alvario Meija and Briton Sean Yates tentatively scheduled to ride. Top professional teams including Motorola of the US, Novell of Holland and Mapei of Italy, the world's number one ranked team, are committed to racing in the demanding seven-stage event from October 26-November 5. The start list will grow to 126 riders from 13 professional and five amateur teams and organisers are hoping the starting grid will include 1992 Olympic champion Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia and Uzbekistan's Djamolidin Abdujaparov, the final-stage winner of last month's Tour of Taiwan and one of the world's strongest sprinters. Italy's former world champion Gianni Bugno of the MG Team has also been invited. The Tour will begin in Hong Kong with a 2.8-kilometre individual time trial starting at the Sports Institute and will end a week later on November 5 in Beijing with a 20-km individual time trial. The event is not a 'Tour' as such with special stages being held in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing but organisers hope the race will eventually expand to take in China's challenging terrain. 'We have to walk before we run,' said Plant. 'In future, it would be possible to have a real Tour but we are just starting out. There are huge logistical problems. 'An entourage of 400 people will be travelling with us.' Also confirmed for the race are the Chinese, US and Hong Kong national teams with Wong Kam-po, Man Wai-chung and Ng Kwok-wah flying the flag for the territory.