Daria Pikulik wins the first stage of the 2023 Santos Tour Down Under

Preview: Tour of Chongming Island and Tour of Guangxi

Route and contenders for the final two races of the 2023 Women's WorldTour.

Daria Pikulik wins the first stage of the 2023 Santos Tour Down Under

The European portion of the Women’s WorldTour is done, but there are still two races left on the calendar, and there’s a fair bit at stake in both. Racing returns Thursday as the women start the Tour of Chongming Island and then the one-day Tour of Guangxi, both for the first time since 2019. The Tour of Chongming Island was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been unable to return until this year, with three road stages over three days starting October 12.

The Tour of Guangxi has only had three previous editions won by Chloe Hosking in 2019, Arlenis Sierra in 2018, and Maria Vittoria Sperotto in 2017 before the race was part of the WorldTour.

Traditionally both races have been for the sprinters. The most recent winner of Chongming Island was Lorena Wiebes who won the overall and all three stages while racing for Parkhotel Valkenburg (throwback!). Other past winners include Hosking, Kirsten Wild, Annette Edmondson, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Jolien D’Hoore.

There is precious little information regarding both races. While both are WorldTour-level events, neither race has official routes and profile info; what we have here is taken from other sources. But don’t make the mistake of thinking these will be sleepy affairs. These two races are not only the final opportunity for teams to gain points toward their bids for WorldTeam status in 2024, they’re also the final chances for nations to gain points towards their Olympic rider allotment.

The Basics

The Tour of Chongming Island starts Thursday, October 12 and runs through Saturday, October 14. All three stages are most likely to end in a sprint.

The Tour of Guangxi is a few days later on October 17th.

Coverage for Chongming will be live on GCN+ starting at 1:05AM Eastern US time/ 7:05AM Central European / 4:05PM Eastern Australian. Coverage details for Guangxi haven’t been announced yet, but Chongming was added to the GCN+ lineup just two days ago, so keep an eye on the Upcoming Races tab.

Favorites include Chiara Consonni, Vittoria Guazzini, Maggie Coles-Lyster, Daria Pikulik, and Georgia Baker.

Tour of Chongming Island Route

Stage 1: Thursday, October 12 – Chongming to Chongming (108.9 km)

All stages take place entirely or substantially on Chongming Island, an 80 km-long alluvial island in the delta of the Yangtze river near Shanghai, China’s most populous city. Alluvial in this case means flat. The first stage from Chongming to Chongming is 108.9 km long, so it’s going to be a quick one to start things off. The start and finish are in the same location and the circuit takes place primarily on city roads, making things a bit spicy.

There is an abrupt turn in the finale, so positioning is important.

The route of stage 1 of the Tour of Chongming Island women's WorldTour race. It's a mostly flat city course with lots of corners.

Stage 2: Friday, October 13 – Shanghai to Chongming (128.6 km)

Stage 2 is the longest of the race at 128.6 km, but since the stage is another flat one it will also be fast. The stage starts on nearby Changxing Island and crosses a long bridge to Chongming Island before looping around to a similar finish to the stage previous. The finish is a bit more straightforward than stage 1.

The route of stage 2 of the Tour of Chongming Island, which takes place more to the south and east of the island after first starting on nearby Changxing Island.

Stage 3: Saturday, October 14 – Chongming to Chongming (112.3)

The race concludes with stage 3, 112.3 km of road. This multi-lap circuit starts and finishes in the same location, but it’s a bit outside of Chongming’s central business district proper and with fewer corners, which may be less technical.

Stage 3 of the Tour of Chongming Island. The route is a circuit and is decidedly less technical, with fewer corners and long straight sections.

Tour of Guangxi Route

After the three stages of the Tour of Chongming Island, the women will travel some 1,800 km to China’s southwestern Guangxi region for the final Women’s WorldTour race of the year: the one-day Tour of Guangxi.

Unlike the Tour of Chongming Island, Tour of Guangxi has a climb or two … well, technically two, a category 1 and category 2. The second climb tops out with 22 km to go to the finish, a tricky distance because if someone attacks during the first climb and gets away with enough distance to gain time on the second climb it will be hard for anyone to bring them back.

A solo or small attack benefits from a pared-back peloton (see below), so it’s entirely possible the race will not end in a sprint. Unfortunately for anyone planning a late-race move, the strongest team in the peloton also has the strongest sprinter in the peloton (again, see below).

The Tour of Guangxi route, a point-to-point race that takes riders through a flatter opening section before doubling back to the finish in Guilin over two climbs.

The Cat. 1 climb comes 92 km into the race; at 2.9 km long and averaging only 4.8%, it’s not exactly something to write home about, and the peloton could well stay together over that ascent if a team sets a steady pace that neutralizes any attacks. But there is hardly any time to recover between that and the next climb of 4.5 km averaging 4.2%.

The elevation profile of the Tour of Guangxi, showing two climbs grouped closely together in the second half, and then a longer flat stretch to the finish. The total elevation gain is 1,174 meters.

Tour of Chongming Island Favourites

The start list is a little sparse compared to other WWT races, but there are some interesting things to note. First of all, all three teams currently fighting for WWT status in 2024 will be in attendance, two with strong prospects for at least a stage victory.

Human Powered Health, Israel-Premier Tech Roland, and Uno-X are all on the cusp of relegation: either remaining in the WWT or being demoted to Continental status. They are also three of the newest teams to the WWT.

Human Powered Health and Israel-Premier Tech Roland have two of the best prospects for a win in Daria Pikulik and Maggie Coles-Lyster. Pikulik has a few wins this year for HPH, including the first stage of the WWT Tour Down Under. She won a stage of the Bretagne Ladies Tour, Konvert Kortrijk Koerse, and two stage of Tour Feminin l’Ardeche. Coles-Lyster won a stage of La Vuelta Extremadura Féminas in March and finished third in the Points Classification at the Tour of Scandinavia. She is a strong sprinter and will find it easier to notch a win in the reduced peloton in China.

Maggie Coles-Lyster of Canada pictured during the 2023 UCI World Championships Cycling in Glasgow.
Maggie Coles-Lyster pictured during the 2023 UCI World Championships Cycling in Glasgow.

Uno-X is also on the hunt for points. Their 2023 season was a lot stronger than their first year in the peloton in 2022, but they couldn’t make up quite enough points to clearly secure their place for 2024. They will line up with former Dutch national champion Anouska Koster, who has a decent sprint. They also have two young prospects who could take their first WT win. First, Finnish rider Anniina Ahtosalo who won GP Betesco earlier in the year, both the TT and road race at her national championships, and was third in the U23 World Championships ITT. Second, Danish national champion Rebecca Koerner is an exciting rider for the future.

Anniina Ahtosalo pictured during the 2023 edition of Binche - Chimay - Binche
Anniina Ahtosalo pictured during the 2023 edition of Binche-Chimay-Binche.

Also on the hunt for points is Jayco-AlUla, who will rock up with track specialist Georgia Baker. Baker is a great sprinter, and will also benefit from a reduced peloton. She has both Nina Kessler and Jess Allen to guide her through the stages, not a bad support team. It will be the final race for Allen, who is retiring after having been a massive part of the Jayco-AlUla team since 2016.

FDJ-Suez is not in desperate need of points but is still going to China with a strong team. They have veteran Swedish rider Emilia Fahlin, who has had a difficult couple of seasons but might be the most experienced rider on the start list. Their sprinter is probably Vittoria Guazzini. The Italian had a strong Spring campaign. She finished third at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, fourth at Dwars door Vlaanderen, and third at Le Samyn des Dames. She’s yet to win a WT race but has three chances to cross that off her list of goals this week.

Vittoria Guazzini pictured before the first stage of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
Vittoria Guazzini pictured before the first stage of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

Liv Racing TeqFind will race their final races coming up before they merge with Jayco-AlUla for the 2024 season. Their best chance at an elusive win is with Rachele Barbieri.

The final WT team on the starlist is the one that probably plays home to the woman who has the best chance of pulling a Wiebes; Chiara Consonni of UAE Team ADQ. Consonni won the final stage of the Giro Donne in July, for the second year in a row. This year she also won Trofee Maarten Wynants and Grove Prijs Beerens. Not as many wins as she secured in 2022 when she won Dwars door Vlaanderen, Dwars door Westhoek, Flanders Diamond Tour, the Giro stage, and GP d’Isbergues, but still. She is the strongest sprinter on the start list.

Chiara Consonni outsprints Marianne Vos in the final stage of the 2023 Giro d’Italia Donne
Chiara Consonni outsprints Marianne Vos in the final stage of the 2023 Giro d’Italia Donne.

As for the non-WT teams, the strongest is definitely Ceratizit-WNT. The team is above the relegation line and could join the WorldTour next year if they can manage the budget requirements. They have a few strong chances at a win but probably the best-known is Marta Lach. The Polish rider won the first stage of the Bretagne Ladies Tour this year as well as GP Fourmies and Grisette Grand Prix de Wallonie. She was very close to a WorldTour win when she took second behind Mischa Bredewold at GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomération in early September. The German team also has Arianna Fidanza on the roster, a strong rider with a handful of top 5s this season.

Escape Collective Star Ratings

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Chiara Consonni
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Daria Pikulik, Maggie Coles-Lyster
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Vittoria Guazzini, Georgia Baker, Marta Lach
⭐️⭐️: Anouska Koster
⭐️: Rachele Barbieri, Rebecca Koerner, Anniina Ahtosalo, Arianna Fidanza

Tour of Guangxi Favourites

Guangxi will favour a lot of the same riders as the Tour of Chongming Island but with a little bit of a caveat. The strongest team in the race is still UAE Team ADQ. They have the most experience and can definitely keep the race together for Consonni or chase anything down.

But particularly in a one-day event, the main difference is FDJ-Suez, which specializes in attacking. They also know how to manipulate the peloton to assist a rider of theirs who is away. Some details for Guangxi – including rosters and TV coverage times – aren’t available yet. But teams won’t fly separate squads to China for Chongming and Guangxi, so we expect nearly identical rosters, except for the usual caveats around crashes or other DNFs.

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