There’s one stage race left on the programme of Lotto Soudal this season: the Tour of Guangxi. This WorldTour race takes place from Thursday 19 October until Tuesday 24 October, in the south of China. It’s six hours later in Guangxi than in Belgium.

The course in Guangxi is mainly flat. The bonus seconds will probably be decisive for the overall victory. At the finish there are six, three and one second to be gained each day. At the intermediate sprints three, two and one second are up for grabs. Each day three intermediate sprint are located on the course, except for the third and fifth stage when it is limited to two. As the course suits the sprinters, many of them travelled to China, including Sonny Colbrelli, Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria, Dylan Groenewegen, Michael Matthews and Danny van Poppel. Lotto Soudal counts on Moreno Hofland. On Sunday there’s an uphill finish, but it’s only at the top of a three-kilometre long climb, which means the time gaps won’t be too large. That stage Lotto Soudal can play the card of Tim Wellens.

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “There are five sprint stages. The fourth stage has an uphill finish after a short climb. It’s not a finish for pure climbers though, but also for punchers. The race will be won by seconds, so the bonus seconds will have a big influence on the overall result.”

“Moreno Hofland won in Famenne last week and finished second in the peloton sprint of the Tacx Classic behind Groenewegen past weekend. He’s in good shape and therefore he’ll be our man for the sprints. Tosh Van der Sande and Enzo Wouters can support Moreno. Tim Wellens will be our GC rider. Michael Matthews will be a dangerous opponent considering there are no long climbs on the course and the fact that he can set a good result in the fourth stage. Adam Hansen is looking great. He will definitely want to try something. Thomas de Gendt is Thomas De Gendt and he will want to show himself too. It’s difficult to predict how Louis Vervaeke will perform. He was unable to race for a long while due to overtiredness and wanted to get some race rhythm before the off-season. His job will be to help out the team.”

Tim Wellens: “This is a special race. It’s a stage race at the end of the season and because it’s the first edition we don’t know the course. It takes a lot of time to get in China and there’s the jetlag. Although the season is nearly over, it was no problem to prepare myself mentally for this race. I am going to China with ambition, without setting a specific goal as there are many things that can influence my performance.”

“The course in Guangxi isn’t hard. The climb at the end of the fourth stage is only three kilometres long and there is no time trial. The time gaps in GC will be small, which means the bonus seconds will be important. As a GC rider you will also need to get a good result in the flat stages, as these results will matter when you finish in the same time as another rider.”

“In 2012 I already raced in China, when I took part in the Tour of Beijing, my first WorldTour race ever. Then I finished tenth on GC. A race at the end of a season is always special, because many are thinking about the off-season. Now we are racing in a different part of China. I am looking forward to see the area. Thanks to cycling you get to see a lot of places in the world.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Tosh Van der Sande, Louis Vervaeke, Tim Wellens and Enzo Wouters.

Sports director: Mario Aerts.

Stages

Stage 1 Thursday 19 October: Beihai Circuit Race (107.4 km)

Stage 2 Friday 20 October: Qinzhou – Nanning (156.7 km)

Stage 3 Saturday 21 October: Nanning Circuit Race (125.4 km)

Stage 4 Sunday 22 October: Nanning – Nongla (151 km)

Stage 5 Monday 23 October: Liuzhou – Guilin (212.2 km)

Stage 6 Tuesday 24 October: Guilin Circuit Race (168.1 km)