Get into the OVO Womens Tour with Boels-Dolmans
One of the most highly anticipated races on the Women’s WorldTour calendar got under way this week. The OVO Women’s Tour, this year supporting Breast Cancer Care, is run by the same organisers as the men’s Tour of Britain and features five stages finishing with a challenging criterium-style finale in London’s West End. Specialized team, Boels-Dolmans, lines up with a squad packed with talent, including returning champion Lizzie Deignan. It is a race that promises excitement from day one. Here is a list of key things to look out for during this year’s race.
As one of the biggest races on the calendar, the Women’s Tour attracts a stellar cast again this year. Boels-Dolmans brings not just defending champion and Tour of Yorkshire winner Lizzie Deignan, but also Anna van der Breggen, the uncontested Queen of the Classics. Another former champion of the race is Marianne Vos, arguably the most successful female cyclist of all time. Vos has had a couple of years plagued by injury, but lines up in Daventry with a victorious May in the legs. Alongside Vos on the WM3 team, is Kasia Niewiadoma, the 22-year-old who has been ever-present this year, despite not yet scooping a win. Also appearing, and definitely worth keeping an eye on, are last year’s runner-up Ashleigh Moolman and British national champion, Hannah Barnes.
Stage two and four in particular are decidedly lumpy on paper. By no means close to the mountain days of European races, but enough to create a hefty build-up of lactic acid in the legs. The women’s peloton rarely take on the longer mountain passes enjoyed by the men, but that’s not to say they’re not used to climbing. The Spring Classics are chock full of sharp digs, many of them cobbled, so the women known what they’re doing on this parcours.
Women’s professional cycling is characteristically offensive. The races tend to be significantly shorter than the men’s, so there is very little opportunity for riding defensively, as Chris Froome might do in the last week of the Tour de France while wearing yellow. The routes the Women’s Tour have laid on demand a certain attacking style thanks to all the ramps along the way. Bunch sprints are even less predictable in the Women’s WorldTour than in the men’s, and if a small group gets a split on the first of many climbs, it would take a herculean effort to get them back.
Any bike race taking place on British soil is almost guaranteed great support. Expect to see the roads lined several-deep, especially in the closing stages of each day. Look out for huge crowds especially on the last two stages in Derbyshire and London, which take place over the weekend and should also host the most thrilling racing of this event.
The Women’s Tour visits London for the first time ever for fourteen laps of a central London circuit on Stage 5. The route takes in world-famous landmarks including Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and The Strand. On paper, the stage looks pretty flat, but as discovered at last year’s Prudential RideLondon, there are many drags that could see some riders struggle on the technical and super-fast course. Unless the General Classification is incredibly close heading into the final stage, the overall race victory is unlikely to be affected, but a thrilling finale is guaranteed and the atmosphere will be electric.
Who will reign victorious in yellow after Stage 5 in London? Can Lizzie Deignan go back-to-back? There is plenty of racing to enjoy this week and we’ll likely see lots of different types of rider winning stages at this year’s Women’s Tour. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Boels-Dolmans in their striking orange kit as they seek to defend their title!
(Photo by Balint Hamvas/Velofocus.com)
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