Michael Matthews and Fernando Gaviria among stars riding Tour of Guangxi
From left, Caleb Ewan, Michael Matthews and Fernando Gaviria will race the Tour of Guangxi

The inaugural Tour of Guangxi takes place from Thursday, October 19 to Tuesday, October 24.

It is the final race on the 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar and has consequently attracted an all-star field.

Here are eight of the biggest names on the start line.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)

Alaphilippe has travelled to China in excellent form, having launched major attacks in the World Championship road race, Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia in the past few weeks, the latter paying off with a second-place finish. He also won a stage of the Vuelta a España in August. The short Guangxi climbs suit his punchy style perfectly and he could emerge as the man to beat in the general classification.

Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT)

Ewan arrives in China with 10 wins to his name this season. He has enjoyed success throughout the year and has developed a habit of dominating certain races, with four wins coming at the Santos Tour Down Under and three wins at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain. If he gets on a roll in Guangxi by winning Stage 1, don’t be surprised to see him take out Stages 2 and 3 as well.

Julian Alaphilippe is one of the overall favourites (Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)

Gaviria has travelled to China with hopes of adding to his 10 wins so far this season and should be one of the two fastest sprinters in the field, along with Ewan. He will have the support of a powerful Quick-Step Floors lead-out train on Stages 1-3, but the hillier sprint days on Stages 5 and 6 may be beyond him. If he can recapture the form that took him to four Giro d'Italia stage wins in May, he could be the man to beat on the flat.

Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)

Groenewegen announced himself as one of the world’s best sprinters in July by winning the most prestigious sprint in cycling, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Stage 21 of the Tour de France. That was one of seven victories this season for the 24-year-old Dutchman, who will be looking to add to his tally in the Tour of Guangxi’s three guaranteed sprint stages.

Dylan Groenewegen is targeting sprint wins (Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)

Kelderman finished fourth at the Vuelta a Espaa in September and was still in good enough shape to cross the line in 18th at Il Lombardia earlier this month, so he should have the condition to challenge for stage and overall honours in Guangxi. However, he generally prefers long climbs to the shorter ascents he will face on Stages 4, 5 and 6.

Mikel Landa (Team Sky)

The Spanish climber has enjoyed an excellent season, winning a stage of the Giro d’Italia and finishing fourth overall at the Tour de France. Along with Wout Poels (see below), he is one of two potential general classification riders for Team Sky, although given that Landa looked tired at Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia in Italy earlier this month, it is more likely he will be a domestique than team leader.

Mikel Landa is one of two potential leaders of Team Sky (LB/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

Matthews should be among the sprinters battling for stage wins, and it’s not out of the question for him to challenge in the general classification as well, if he is in good enough climbing form. He should be able to accrue a handful of bonus seconds in the sprints, which will give him a buffer over the climbers, and then it's a question of whether he can defend that advantage on the hills. Stage 4’s summit finish is where he could lose most time, but the final climb is less than 2km long, so if his team-mates can keep him up at the front, he might be able to limit his losses enough to stay in overall contention. The climbs on Stages 5 and 6 are followed by long stretches of flat to the finish, so if Matthews is dropped, he has time to chase back on.

Wout Poels (Team Sky)

Poels is enjoying a strong end to the season, with a sixth-place finish at the Vuelta a España being followed by another sixth place at Milano-Torino. He tends to be able to maintain his climbing form all the way to the end of the year, but whether the Guangxi climbs are difficult enough for him remains to be seen.

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