The second Women’s Tour of Britain starts on Wednesday 17th June, and Strava is again partnering with the race to award the Queen of the Mountains competition. Last year, the world’s elite women racers took to the streets of the UK in the first ever Women’s Tour of Britain.
In a thrilling race, which rewrote the QOM – and KOM – leaderboards across the country, the then-world champion Marianne Vos won three stages and took the overall victory. And Sharon Laws of the United Healthcare team fought off strong competition to win the inaugural orange polka dot Strava Queen of the Mountains jersey. For 2015 Sharon is back to defend her jersey, this year riding for the Bigla team. And the QOM climbs featured will give her rivals plenty of opportunities to attack.
Stage 1 runs from Bury to Aldeburgh in the famously flat county of Suffolk, so should be more marked by so-called « Dutch mountains » – headwinds – than real ones. Stages 2 and 3, from Braintree to Clacton and Oundle to Kettering respectively, have a more rolling profile, while stage 4, from Waltham Cross to Stevenage, is described by the organisers as having a ‘Classics-style parcours’ – so lots of short, sharp climbs to test riders’ legs. It’s the final stage, however, where we could really see fireworks. That takes the competitors from Marlow to Hemel Hempstead through the Chilterns, some of the best and most beautiful hills in the south of England. This is the first time the Women’s Tour will have tackled such climbs and the final QOM comes only 10km from the finish line, so the action could be tense right up to the grand finale!
As for the overall competition, Marianne Vos has unfortunately pulled out of the race with injury problems and will not be able to defend her title. That leaves the race for overall victory wide open, though her Rabo Liv team still has world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in its ranks, and their organisation and teamwork will still pose a formidable threat. United Healthcare will be led by local girl Hannah Barnes, who has shown good form this season and will surely look to win the sprint for stage 1, which takes place entirely in her home county. Also contesting the sprints will be Giorgia Bronzini (of Wiggle-Honda, the home of the crowd’s favourite Dani King). Follow along with their Wiggle-Honda teammates Elisa Longo Borghini, Jolien D’Hoore, and Audrey Cordon.
Lizzie Armitstead of the Boels Dolmans team will be looking to improve on a frustrating time in 2014, where the top step of the podium eluded her grasp – and with big wins under her belt this year, including the first at the Tour of Qatar and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, it might well be her year.
Other contenders for stages and the overall include Emma Johansson, the Swede leading Orica-AIS, and Matrix Fitness’s Laura Trott, who will be racing with the full force of a home crowd behind her. Another local rider to follow is Katie Archibald, riding for Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International along with teammates Katie Curtis and Joanna Roswell.
A good portion of the peloton is on Strava. Representing the Veloci SRAM team are Tiffany Cromwell and Loren Rowney. Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies riders Alison Tetrick and Brianna Wale. Along with ALE Cippolinin’s Annalisa Cuccinota, Ariana Fidanza and Simon Frapporti.
Strava will be at the race and following every move in the battle for the orange polka dot jersey. We’ll also be giving you behind-the-scenes access to the riders, and sharing our thoughts via Facebook, Twitter and Periscope. Check back for coverage, live-video and don’t forget to give the riders a cheer if you’re on the side of the road – or Kudos on Strava if you’re not there!
Each of the five stages of the Women’s Tour will have two classified climbs, where the peloton will prove who is the strongest climber. The jersey will be awarded each day and the classification leader will, with the help of her teammates, attempt to defend the orange polka dots on the roads of the next day’s stage. Below you’ll find the route distances and hill climb segments.
Stage 1: 17th June – BURY ST EDMUNDS to ALDEBURGH
Distance of stage 112.6kms / 70miles
Stage 2: 18th June – BRAINTREE to CLACTON
Distance of stage 138kms / 85.8miles
Stage 3: 19th June – OUNDLE to KETTERING
Distance of stage 139.2kms / 86.6miles
Stage 4: 20th June – WALTHAM CROSS to STEVENAGE
Distance of stage 103.8kms / 64.5miles
Stage 5: 21st June – MARLOW to HEMEL HEMPSTEAD
Distance of stage 102.6kms / 63.8miles