The Tour of Chongming Island marks a significant shift in the season; the end of the one-day Classics and the beginning of the mid-season stage races that are part of the Women's WorldTour. The race takes place from May 9-11 in China.
It's traditionally a sprinter's affair with three pan-flat stages that cater to only the fastest women in the peloton - think Kirsten Wild (WNT-Rotor), Jolien D'hoore (Boels Dolmans) and Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini), all previous winners.
Last year, several early-race crashes took down some of the top sprinters while Charlotte Becker (Hitec) went on to secure the overall victory. Becker will not be on the start line this year, but runner-up Shannon Malseed will be back with support from her Tibco-SVB team to win the race this time around.
After a successful track campaign, Wild enjoyed two early-season victories on the Women's WorldTour this season, so far, at Driedaagse Brugge De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. But the powerful Dutch sprinter will not be racing this year’s edition, having opted to race Festival Elsy Jacobs, which will leave the race open for new faces to stand on the podium.
In addition, some of the top teams will not be attending the race this year, such as Boels-Dolmans, Trek-Segafredo, Sunweb, Virtu, Canyon-SRAM, CCC-Liv or Ale Cipollini, meaning riders like D'hoore, Hosking, Marta Bastianelli and Marianne Vos will not be racing. Still, there are a number of riders to watch who will be wanting to take a victory in the first stage race on the Women's WorldTour.
WNT-Rotor will be returning with a competitive team with Anna Badegruber, Claudia Koster, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin, Sarah Rijkes, Lea Lin Teutenberg and Lara Vieceli. "Our team goals for this race, are to let our younger and developing riders get the opportunity - with leaders being Lara Vieceli and Sarah Rijkes," the team’s press officer told Cyclingnews.
Mitchelton-Scott will be one of the highest ranked teams on the start line with riders Jessica Allen, Grace Brown, Alex Manly, Sarah Roy and Moniek Tenniglo. The riders typically make up the classics team but will now have a chance to use their power in this flat stage-race setting.
"We are going with the idea of doing some good preparation towards sprint finish, and we have Roy for the sprints," said director Alejandro Gonzales. "We always want to do well and Chongming is all about getting the sprint train ready for the upcoming races. The form is there, sprints are always a lottery and we've got our ticket. It is first race for Alex Manly back on the road for a while, so we will take day by day and fix individual goals for her."
Tibco-SVB arrive with Malseed, but also have talents in Rozanna Slik, Nicolle Bruderer, Nina Kessler and Sharlotte Lucas. Parkhotel Valkenburg have Lorena Wiebes, who has had a stand-out season with wins at Danilith Nokere Koerse voor Dames, EPZ Omloop van Borsele and a stage at the Tour de Yorkshire.
Although Hitec are without the defending champion, Becker, it also has a strong team with sisters Lucy and Grace Garner, and Marta Tagliaferro.
Lotto Soudal Ladies bring Belgium champion Dom Annelies along with Lotte Kopecky, for a tough-to-beat duo.
Smaller UCI Women's Teams that will be able to showcase their talent include Servetto - Piumate, Minsk Cycling, Team Illuminate, Massi Tactic and Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport. And the race is also important for teams China Liv, Thailand Women’s Cycling, Lviv Cycling, and national teams from China and Hong Kong.
2019 Tour of Chongming Island
The route is varied from previous editions with two stages starting and finishing in the same location. There are very little technical sections, mainly flat routes for all three stages. "It is often hard for breakaways to stay away but intermediate sprints with bonus seconds on offer often helps to light up the race," as stated in a Mitchelton-Scott press release.
Stage 1: May 9, 2019 - New Park City, 102.7km
Stage 2: May 10, 2019 - Chongming Fenghuang Park - New Park City, 126.6km
Stage 3: May 11, 2019 - New Park City, 118.4km