Daria Pikulik of team Human Powered Health captured a WorldTour general classification podium on the final day of the Tour of Chongming Island in China by sprinting to second place after a phenomenal team effort in the lead-out.
The result caps off a fantastic three days on the island. The team now travels south to Guilin for the final race of the season – the Tour of Guangxi.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Pikulik said afterwards. “The win was really close, but it was a really good finish for us.”
The 122.3km circuit stage around Chongming New City Park provided the opportunity to see the run into the finish three times before the final sprint. With bonus seconds on the line each lap, there was also an opportunity for Pikulik to climb the GC ranks, which she duly did by taking third on lap four of seven.
Three kilometres from the line, Japanese champion Eri Yonamine manoeuvred the team to the head of the race, which set up an exciting finale. Climber Barbara Malcotti then took over with a lung-busting effort to keep the team ahead of Uno-X Pro Cycling Team’s late surge. Marit Raaijmakers then came to the front, expertly taking the race through to the final kilometre before Marjolein van ‘t Geloof was utilised as Pikulik’s last engine.
A late surge against stage winner Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) almost saw Pikulik crash into the barriers, but the 26-year-old composed herself to finish second on the bike throw, a result that also helped her climb one position to third place on the overall.
Pikulik now looks ahead to the 146km one-day Tour of Guangxi. More of a climbing test, a 14-kilometre climb in the final third of the race may prove the race-maker, but the flat 40km to the finish line after the climb may help sprinters get back amongst it.
“We will see how I feel on the climb tomorrow because I will need to push longer at a higher heart rate,” she explained. “It’s the last race of the season, so we are really motivated about it and we will try and win again.”
Pikulik has also been soaking up the scenery in preparation. “Guangxi is beautiful and we had a very nice pre-race. We are happy as well as motivated to race.”
In-form Italian climber Barbara Malcotti will take to the start line for her 64th race day in 2023, joining Claire Steels (Israel Premier Tech Roland) as having raced the most days this year.
“It will be my last race of a very long season,” said Malcotti. “I’m proud of Daria and I’m happy I could learn from Marit and Marjolein in the lead-out. It should be a sprint finish, so I want to be helpful for my teammates again.”
Tour of Chongming Island stage three results
1 CONSONNI Chiara – UAE Team ADQ 15” 2:47:47
2 PIKULIK Daria – Human Powered Health 7” ”
3 FIDANZA Martina – CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling 4” ”
4 AHTOSALO Anniina – Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 2” ”
5 COLES-LYSTER Maggie – Israel Premier Tech Roland 3” ”
6 BARBIERI Rachele – Liv Racing TeqFind ”
7 TSERAKH Hanna – Li Ning Star Ladies ”
8 PIRRONE Elena – Israel Premier Tech Roland ”
9 DE ZOETE Mylène – CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling 5” ”
10 ZENG Luyao – China ”
Tour of Chongming Island final general classification
1 CONSONNI Chiara – UAE Team ADQ
2 DE ZOETE Mylène – CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling
3 PIKULIK Daria – Human Powered Health
4 TSERAKH Hanna – Li Ning Star Ladies
5 FIDANZA Martina – CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling