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RACE PREVIEW: Tour of Guangxi

The last round of the UCI Women’s World Tour is upon us and riders are heading to China for the final road race of 2019.

World Tour Recap

After 8 months and 22 races the fight for the overall title of the UCI Women’s World Tour has yet to be concluded and so the Tour of Guangxi is set to be an exciting finale to a great year of racing.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) has held the jersey for an astonishing 13 rounds and currently tops the leader’s ranking. Despite her imperious demonstrations of strength this season, the newly crowned world champion has been selective with her racing calendar and so only holds a slender lead of 5 points to compatriot Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) in the overall standings. Behind them, with a deficit of 170 points, lies Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg).

It seems the 2018 World Tour champion, van Vleuten, won’t be defending her crown in Guangxi (perhaps with eyes on long term preparations for Tokyo) so the door is firmly open for Vos and Wiebes to take the top two spots. Who clinches purple however, will depend on the outcome of the final sprint in Guilin on Sunday.

That being said the odds are stacked favourably towards Vos who can secure the 2019 title with a placing inside the top 9. Wiebes, however, will have to hope the stars align since she can only win the purple jersey if she’s takes the win on Sunday and, crucially, Vos places outside the top 10.

However, the young Dutchwoman, won’t leave China empty handed. Wiebes holds a 4 point lead in the Youth Rankings and with 2nd place rival – Marta Cavalli (Valcar Cylance) – not making the trip east, Wiebes has won the blue jersey and will at the very least be crowned the 2019 Youth World Tour Champion. The question is – could she be the first ever rider to win both youth and senior titles in the same year?

Tour of Guangxi

The third edition of the Tour of Guangxi remains unchanged from last year’s edition and unlike its Chinese cousin – The Tour of Chongming Island – it offers up a more challenging and interesting parcour.

The 145.8km race starting in Guilin has a fairly straightforward opening 80km with wide, open highways before heading towards the foothills of the Yuecheng mountains. At 90km the race will truly start with two categorised climbs coming in quick succession. The first measures in at 2.7km in length with an average gradient of 5.7% and the second, longer climb (4.3km in length with an average gradient of 4.4km) crests at 103.5km. Both climbs are long enough and tough enough not only to whittle down the bunch, but also act as a launch pad for a successful and strong break. A fairly technical descent follows before the peloton returns onto the highways for the 30km back into town where a wide and fast sprint awaits.

It’s undoubtedly a race for the fastest finishers, however the two climbs could scupper the chances of the pure sprinters. Indeed, last year we saw Mitchelton Scott take control on the first climb of the day, launching Lucy Kennedy up the road and splitting the race to pieces. Although the race did come back together with around 25km left, the bunch had been reduced to just 30 riders with some notable sprint absentees.

The 2018 champion, Arlenis Sierra (Astana), will be looking to defend her title and comes to China in good form. The 26 year old Cuban recently won the Giro Toscana and with a 12th place finish in Yorkshire, she will be confident in her climbing ability. With other wins this year including the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Sierra has shown she has both the power and tactical nous to excel in one day races.

However, Sierra will come up against stiff competition not least from Marianne Vos. Vos will not only be vying for the Tour of Guangxi title, but also for the overall World Tour crown and so will be extremely motivated to bring back both wins. Her recent string of results (including victories at Tour de I’Ardeche, Tour of Norway, La Course as well as 4 Giro stage wins) shows she’s back to her best and she’ll prove extremely difficult to beat in the final.

Another fast finisher to watch is Great Britain’s Hannah Barnes (Canyon Sram) who finished 2nd in last year’s edition. Alongside Barnes, another ‘Rouleur’ to watch out for is Alison Jackson (Team Tibco). The Canadian won the sprinters jersey at the Tour of Guangxi last year and will no doubt be hoping for a hard, fast race. Jackson will be looking to improve upon her 10th place finish from 2018 and even in October will be as motivated as ever to take her first World Tour podium on Sunday.

As for the pure sprinters they will be hoping they can make it over the climbs. Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) is arguably the fastest rider on paper and will be looking to add another world tour win to her name. The Australian, who took victory on stage 2 of the WNT Madrid Challenge, recently announced her move to the Canadian team – Rally UHC – and so will no doubt be hoping she can finish a successful 3 years with the Italian squad on a high.

Another sprinter that all eyes will be on, is the young star – Lorena Wiebes. After her utter dominance at the Tour of Chongming Island in May (she won every stage, the overall, the youth and points classifications) she will be hoping her successes in China can continue. Wearing the blue jersey of the Youth World Tour leader she will be hoping to add another victory to what has been an incredible year.

The conclusion of the UCI Women’s World Tour 2019 is set to be an exciting and dramatic finale and the race within race on the roads of Guangxi this Sunday provides a climatic end to a great year of racing.

Summary

When:

22nd October

Where:

Guilin, Guangxi. China

What:

145.8km road race

Who to watch:

Vos *****

Wiebes *****

Hosking ***

Sierra ***

Top Outsider:

Alison Jackson

TV Coverage:

TBC.
Live twitter updates available from the UCI WWT



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