Elite cycling event puts Chongming on fast track
Published: Sep 20, 2023 06:36 PM

Chongming Island UCI Women's World Tour in 2019 Photo:VCG

Athletes compete in the Chongming Island UCI Women's World Tour in 2019. Photo:VCG

The world's annual women's elite road cycling tour is set to return to China after a three-year absence.

As the penultimate event of the 2023 UCI Women's World Tour, the Tour of Chongming Island will take place from October 12 to 14 in Shanghai, according to a recent press conference.

A total of 18 teams of top cycling talents from 13 countries and regions across the world will take part in the three-day event, including teams from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Riders will strive to win points to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

The Tour of Chongming Island is one of the most prestigious women's cycling events in the world, being on the same level as the renowned Giro d'Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes in terms of the points awarded to the winners, Luo Wenye, vice chief of Shanghai Administration of Sports, said at the press conference.

"The winner of Chongming will get 400 points. It's a great opportunity for Chinese cyclists to snap up points on a home track to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games," said Luo. 

Initially launched in 2016, the UCI Women's World Tour is a collection of the highest-level road races in the world. The 2023 UCI Women's World Tour, including 27 road cycling events throughout the year, kicked off in January with the Women's Tour Down Under and will conclude in China with the Tour of Chongming Island and Tour of Guangxi, which will begin on October 17 in Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. 

Sun Weimin, director of the cycling and fencing management center of the General Administration of Sport of China, told the Global Times that Chinese cyclists can gain confidence and fight for points to qualify for the road races at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The event has also played a positive role in promoting the development of China's road cycling.

According to the world's cycling governing body UCI, the National Olympic Committees earn 80 of the road race allocations for the Paris Olympic Games through the UCI Nation Rankings, with the top five countries getting four rider slots, the rest of the top 10 being given three, 11th through 20th get two and 21st-45th get one spot.

The three-day stage races cover a distance of 349.8 kilometers, taking athletes on a whirlwind tour of the scenic spots around Chongming Island. 

The event will allow the visitors and athletes to experience the harmonious blend of natural beauty and urban development in Chongming, said Sun.

A cycling carnival that features an antique bicycles exhibition and a bicycle art show will also be held during the event to promote local tourism.

From the National Road Cycling Classic in 2003 to the current Women's World Tour, Chongming has established its nameplate as a cycling haven while cycling has given impetus to the development of the sports industry on Chongming Island. 

Leisure bicycle lanes covering a total distance of 413 kilometers have enticed thousands of cycling enthusiasts to the island. The lanes were designed to connect Chongming's attractions with natural scenery and provide riders a unique cycling experience. 

After years of development, the Tour of Chongming Island has been recognized by the UCI and all participating teams. It has promoted the development of world cycling and has become the highest-level annual cycling event in China, said Sun.