The Tour of Chongming Island has upgraded from a UCI 2.1-level stage race in 2015, which was accompanied by a one-day World Cup, to a place on the inaugural Women’s WorldTour held this year from May 6-8 in China. The three-day event is classed for the sprinters whereby Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) won two stages and the overall classification last year.
All stages will begin and end in Xincheng Park. The opening stage will take the women’s field along a 139.8km road race, followed by a 112.8km race on stage 2, and the event will conclude with a 99km stage 3. During the three days of racing, for a total of 351.6km, there will also include six intermediate sprints and three category four climbs.
Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) is currently leading the Women’s World Tour after winning four of the first six rounds at Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Cittiglio, Tour of Flanders and La Fleche Wallonne. She has a total of 368 points, and is ahead of her two teammates: runner-up in the standings Chantal Blaak with 343 points and third-placed Megan Guarnier with 325 points.
Eighteen teams have been invited to participate in this year’s Tour of Chongming Island. Armitstead and her Boels-Dolmans team will not be participating, and neither will defending champion Wild.
Last year, bunch sprints were to be had in all three stages. Wild won the first two, while Roxane Fournier (Poitou Charentes.Futuroscope.86) won the final stage. Wild won the overall title and Fournier placed second.
Fournier will be on the start line, and likely looking to do one better than last year and take the overall crown. But it won’t be easy as the race is full of fast sprinters, also looking to win the overall title. Olena Pavlukhina (BTC City Ljubljana) will also be on the start line and notably won the overall title at Gracia Orlova last week. Wiggle High5 will begin with strong sprinters in Lucy Garner and Chloe Hosking.
Notably, Leah Kirchmann (Team Liv-Plantur) has a strong shot at the overall title after proving herself this spring with a win at Drentse Acht van Westerveld, second at Omloop van het Hageland and fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. She was also seventh at Gent-Wevelgem Women.
"The previous editions of the Tour of Chongming Island have essentially been sprint races and that's what I expect again this year. We have a well-balanced team for these stages with flexibility to go for the sprints and also with the breakaways," said director Dirk Reuling.
"The goal is to work as a team and target a stage victory, which should be within reach after our good performances in Borsele and Yorkshire. On top of that, we will explore the opportunities in the general classification with Leah."
Some of the top teams such as Orica-AIS, Rabo Liv and Canyon SRAM will not be on the start line, but there are a series of national teams making appearances; Korea, Thailand, China, Russia and Hong Kong.