Two riders from the Chinese team made their mark in the second stage of the 2023 UCI Women’s Road World Tour around Chongming Island. Milin Desaut of the Ceratizit WNT Women’s Professional Team and Nina Keys of the Jack AlUla Women’s Professional Team broke into the top ten, showcasing their skills in the challenging race.
The second stage, known as the “Jinhui Wine” Chongdong stage, covered a total distance of 128.6 kilometers, starting at Changxing Island Country Park and concluding at Chongming New Town Park. The route featured the only climbing point at the Shanghai Yangtze River Bridge, as well as two sprint points at 48.8 kilometers and 78.5 kilometers. The stage proved to be the longest in this year’s tour and presented increased elevation challenges compared to the first stage.
As the race commenced, riders wasted no time in showing their strength, with some teams sending “rabbits” to break through the pack. Nina Kessler of the Jack AlUla Women’s Professional Team, donning the polka dot jersey, reached the hill climb points first, showcasing her climbing prowess.
With about 80 kilometers completed, Olga Zabelinskaya from the Tashkent Women’s Professional Team took the lead, riding alone with a 2-minute gap between her and the peloton. The rainy weather added an extra level of difficulty to the race, causing riders to exercise caution in overtaking, turning, and blocking positions. The riders consciously maintained distance within the group, often moving forward in a “pulling a train” formation.
With 32 kilometers remaining, Olga Zabelinskaya’s lead began to shrink to approximately 1 minute. Laura from the German Ceratizit WNT Women’s Professional Team accelerated the peloton, reducing the time gap to 52 seconds after 2 kilometers. With 18 kilometers to go, Zabelinskaya’s advantage dwindled to 35 seconds. However, she persisted and was still leading with only 6.6 kilometers left before the finish line.
In the last kilometer, the peloton caught up with Zabelinskaya, and the teams initiated their final sprints. Surprisingly, Hannah Scherlacher from the Li-Ning Star Women’s Cycling Team of China made a move from the right side and overtook her rivals, securing the stage championship. Scherlacher’s impressive time of 3 hours, 18 minutes, and 11 seconds propelled her to the top of the overall score, earning her the coveted yellow jersey. Konsoni Chiara of the UAE ADQ Women’s Professional Team achieved the green jersey for the best sprint performance, while Nina Kessler of the Jack AlUla Women’s Pro Team retained the best polka dot jersey for climbs. Tang Xin from the Chinese team maintained the white jersey for the best performance among youths.
Tang Xin, the Chinese team’s standout performer in this stage, finished sixth, while Zeng Luyao, who stood sixth in the previous stage, claimed seventh place. Zeng Luyao is just one step away from qualifying for the Paris Olympics, as she accumulated 33 points over the two days. Expressing her determination, Zeng Luyao stated, “More than 10 points are enough to qualify for the Paris Olympics. I hope I can continue to maintain the results of the first two stages tomorrow.”
Looking ahead, the third stage of the 2023 Yongda Tianheng·UCI Women’s Road World Tour around Chongming Island, titled the “Wansheng Sports” Chongzhong Stage and City Circle Race, will take place on the 14th. This stage will require riders to complete seven laps, covering a total distance of 112.3 kilometers. It will feature three sprint points and a climbing point, promising another thrilling and challenging race.