The 3rd edition of the Women’s Tour of Britain kicks off on Wednesday and with that the UK public will get to see the best female riders grace British roads as the likes of Lizzie Armitstead, Lisa Brennauer, and Kristen Wild fight for the Yellow Jersey.
There has been a gradual progression from the organisers of the Women’s Tour to make it harder for the competitors, and this year they have done just that. In previous years the race has been suited to the sprinters; but this year there will be a sprint, but most notably will be the inclusion of some tough climbs that is sure to shake up the GC classification.
10 of the top ranked teams will be in attendance come Wednesday; teams like Wiggle High5, Canyon SRAM, and Boels-Dolman will all be represented. And for Team GB, former Olympic medallist Emma Pooley will riding on home roads as she steps up here preparation for the Rio Olympics.
Unlike last year, where the route was more suited to sprinters, this year will be different; more emphasis is on the climbers, and the GC contenders.
It was only at the beginning of this year that the Women’s WorldTour was revamped and with that came harder and more progressive races for the women; something they have welcomed so far this season.
Stage One – Southwold to Norwich, 138.5km
The opening stage, as is the case with most major races is suited for the sprinters, and the Women’s Tour is no exception. The organiser has earmarked the castle in the centre of Norwich as the conclusion for the first day.
Wild will look at this with anticipation; the Dutch rider has had five victories this season, and is in fine fettle as she looks to build up her preparation for the Olympics this summer.
Stage Two – Atherstone to Stratford-upon-Avon 140.6km
This stage will be the introduction of the climbs, and also the longest stage of the Tour. The riders will take in the Cotswold before they finish in Stratford-upon-Avon; a breakaway could be the order of the day.
Stage Three – Ashbourne to Chesterfield, 109.6km
There are two more classified climbs on the trip to Chesterfield for the riders; and it will be interesting to see how the GC pretenders cope on what will no doubt be a difficult day in the saddle.
Stage Four – Nottingham to Stoke-on-Trent, 119.2km
The penultimate stage will see the rider’s visit the Peak District where yet more climbs wait; if someone wants to win the Women’s Tour, this would be the stage in which to do it on.
Stage Five – Northampton to Kettering, 113.2km
Kettering will play host to the final stage where it will be likely we will see a sprint finish where the likes of Wild, Hannah Barnes and Armitstead could all take victory.
Women’s cycling is truly booming right now, everything is pointing to a bright future. But at the heart of the peloton are some truly gifted riders which are taking the women’s sport to new heights.
And on Wednesday many of them will be in attendance and hoping to put in a good performance in what is expected to be an entertaining Tour of Britain.
Britain’s golden girl of road cycling Armitstead will be racing with her Boels-Dolman teammates, and although she has said the Tour of Britain is not her priority in the summer months, she will be using the race as preparation for the Olympic road race in Rio.
The 27-year-old World Champion has had a marvellous season to date; her wins at the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, and Trofeo Binda, and then her most recent one at the Boels Rental Hills Classic showed the Brit is in imperious form. And if the opportunity for the overall lead arises, Armitstead will certainly be there or thereabouts.
Another rider that could be a surprise package is the former World Champion Marianne Vos, who is on the comeback trail after a prolonged period off her bike, after injury in 2015.
Again like Armitstead, Vos is looking to use the Tour as preparation as the she attempts to defend her Olympic crown this summer.
Vos is certainly not the feared competitor that she once was. Armitstead has taken up the mantle of being the standard bearer for women’s cycling. But the Dutch rider is still a superb bike rider and if she can find her legs, like she did on stage three at the recent Tour of California she will be a threat in the sprints.
Overall it is thought that this week will be a spectacle of racing; and if it goes like any of the previous WorldTour races, the British public will be in for a treat.