The recommencement of the only Women’s World Tour race on the Asian continent will see 8 World Tour teams, along with 8 continental teams and two national teams take on three stages around Chongming Island in eastern China, for the first time since 2019.
The race has suffered a lengthy absence due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic but is back on the calendar in its traditional autumn slot, and is the final WWT race of the 2023 season. It takes place over three flat stages, around the island which is situated in the north of the city of Shanghai.
The race takes place from the 12-14 October.
Stage 1 – Chongxi-Chongxi (108.9km, Flat)
The first stage is the shortest of the three, and takes place on a circuit around the north-west corner of the island. The island is pan flat so there are no lumps of bumps to detail, and it’s almost certain that the day will end in a bunch sprint.
Stage 2 – Chongdong-Chongdong (128.5km, Flat)
The central stage is the longest of the race, and features a twisting circuit around the south end of Chongming Island, with a number of corners to contend with, but once again nothing in the way of hills to provide enough of an obstacle to allow the peloton to break up. Expect a second bunch sprint.
Stage 3 – Chongzhong-Chongzhong (112.3km, Flat)
The final stage will decide the general classification, and likely offer a third opportunity for the fast women to take a stage win, the final opportunity to grab a Women’s World Tour win in 2023.
Riders to Watch
With three very flat stages, the teams lining up in Chongming Island will be keen to bring their strongest sprinters and lead-out trains, for what looks set to be three thrilling head-to-head bunch gallops. If three sprints do come to pass, the GC will ultimately be decided on bonus seconds, or on countback if required.
Arguably one of the favourites will be Ceratizit-WNT’s in-form sprinter Marta Lach. With two big wins to her name in September, she’s bringing confidence and peak form into the race. The team also have talented young Italian Martina Fidanza to offer alternative options. They will face stiff competition however from the World Tour teams, with perhaps the biggest threat being UAE Team ADQ. The two leaders for the team will likely be a pair of Italians, Chiara Consonni and Eleonora Gasparrini, and the combined strength of the team is likely to work in favour of the Emirati side in China.
FDJ-SUEZ bring a team of all-rounders but Gladys Verhulst is likely to be their chosen leader when it comes to bunch sprints, while LivRacing-TeqFind will look to Rachele Barbieri in the hope that she can find her best levels late in the season.
While the World Tour teams have options, the Pro teams will pose a serious threat to their supremacy. In addition to Ceratizit, Human Powered Health also bring a rider who has proven her recent form, in Daria Pikulik. The Polish rider won two stages of the Tour Feminin l’Ardeche last month, and rides alongside team mate Barbara Malcotti, who also took a stage in the same race.
Tamara Dronova (Israel-Premier Tech) and Georgia Baker (Team Jayco-Alula) will both hope to be in the kind of form that saw them score victories over the summer.
Riders to watch (GC)
5-stars Chiara Consonni
4-stars Marta Lach
3-stars Daria Pikulik
2-stars Gladys Verhulst
1-star Georgia Baker
When – 12-14 October
Where – China
What – 3-day stage race
TV Coverage: Eurosport, GCN
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