Cyclingnews' guide to the 2018 Women's WorldTour

Three new races extend professional series to 23 events

The 2018 UCI Women's WorldTour, in only its third edition, has become the largest platform for professional women's road cycling, showcasing the best teams, riders and races. Cyclingnews will provide you with comprehensive race reports, results, news, features, blogs and galleries, along with Voxwomen videos, all from the women's peloton.

The series replaced the former UCI Women Road World Cup, which was a collection of one-day races held from 1998 to 2015. This year, the Women's WorldTour has brought together 23 races (three more than last year) that aim to provide a mix of international one-day races and stage races where riders and teams compete for overall titles in the series' individual, youth and team classifications.

Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) took five victories in last year's series: Ardennes Classics triple crown - Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège - Tour of California and Giro Rosa. She secured the overall title with 1,016 points, ahead of Annemiek Van Vleuten on 989 points and Katarzyna Niewiadoma with 856 points in third place. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig won the youth title, and Boels Dolmans took a commanding win in the team classification.

The overall team world ranking again determines which teams participate in the series, whereby organisers are obliged to invite the top 15 ranked UCI Women's Teams (reduced from 20 teams the previous year). Organisers can then extend invitations to two national teams (one from the country hosting the event and one invitation to a foreign national team), and the remaining teams must be UCI Women's Teams.

There are 46 UCI Women's Teams this year. The top-ranked 15 are Boels Dolmans, Mitchelton-Scott, Team Sunweb, Cervelo Bigla, Canyon-SRAM, Wiggle High5, Waowdeals Pro Cycling, Cylance Pro Cycling, Ale Cipollini, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, BTC City Ljubljana, Hitec Products, Astana Women's Team, Team Virtu Cycling and Valcar PBM.

Anna van der Breggen continues to lead the WorldTour rankings
2017 Women's WorldTour overall winner Anna van der Breggen.

The 7 stage races

Seven stage races make up a large portion of the Women's WorldTour, and they are spread across the globe; China, US, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands.

April 26-28: The Tour of Chongming Island - In China, it will set the stage for the multi-day events that are part of the series. Once a one-day World Cup, it's now a three-day race held in Chongming Xin Cheng Park. With sprinter-friendly routes, past winners include Jolien D'hoore, Chloe Hosking and Giorgia Bronzini and Kirsten Wild.

May 17-19: Tour of California Women's Race: Teams will travel overseas to the US west coast for the three-day California event. Organisers reduced it from four days to three, but it still includes one of the toughest climbs of the series; Kingsbury Grade on the second stage. Past winners include Anna van der Breggen, Megan Guarnier and Trixi Worrack.

May 19-22: Emakumeen Bira - Teams will be forced to choose between racing in California or Spain as the two races overlap by one day. The Spanish race has been around for 30 years, so it's hard to believe that this the first year it is part of the Women's WorldTour. Lots of climbing make this event one of the most challenging stage races outside of the Giro Rosa. Past winners include Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Emma Johansson, Kasia Niewiadoma and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.

June 13-17: OVO Energy Women's Tour - The five-day event in Great Britain is now in its fifth edition and known for being a crowd-friendly and well-attended event. Organisers haven't announced the route yet, but previous editions raced in and around London. Past winners include Kasia Niewiadoma, Lizzie Deignan, Lisa Brennauer and Marianne Vos.

July 6-15: Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile - It is more widely known as the Giro Rosa and considered the only 'grand tour' on the women's circuit. After a one-month rest, teams will line up for the 10-day race. It is challenging because of its length but also because it typically includes unpredictable, mountainous terrain. This year, the race returns to the iconic Monte Zoncolan, on the penultimate stage 9, which hasn't been used in the women's race in over 20 years. The daunting 11.9-kilometre ascent, with slopes as steep as 22 per cent, could decide the overall winner. Past overall winners of the Giro Rosa are Anna van der Breggen (twice), Megan Guarnier, Mara Abbott (twice) and Marianne Vos (three times).

August 16-19: Ladies Tour of Norway - Late-summer stage racing begins in Norway. Last year, the event kicked off with a prologue followed by three punchy stages around the country's scenic fjords. Organisers have not announced this year's route, but we can expect similar terrain. Previous winners include Marianne Vos, Lucinda Brand, Megan Guarnier and Anna van der Breggen.

August 28-September 2: Boels Ladies Tour - The six-day race marks the final stage race on the Women's WorldTour. As expected for an event held in Holland, it is relatively flat, fast and technical. It begins with a prologue, which allows for some small separations in the general classification early on. It is no surprise then that past winners include time trial specialists and powerful riders like Annemiek Van Vleuten, Chantal Blaak, Lisa Brennauer, Evelyn Stevens, Ellen Van Dijk and Marianne Vos.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) wins 2017 Strade Bianche
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) wins 2017 Strade Bianche

The 16 one-day races

There are 16 one-day races on the Women's WorldTour, and the series begins with a succession of nine spring Classics.

March 3: Strade Bianche Women - It's becoming a tradition for the opener to take place in Siena, with the parcours routed along the white gravel roads through Tuscany, Italy. It's the third edition of the race, which started as a UCI 1.1 event in 2015 and then joined the inaugural Women's WorldTour in 2016. This year's race is 136km with eight gravel sectors. Past winners include Elisa Longo Borghini, Lizzie Deignan and Megan Guarnier.

March 11: Ronde van Drenthe - Teams head to the Netherlands for the more traditional classics. Last year, early cobbled sections of this race tended to wear away the peloton before the 'VAM-berg' climb encourages attacks ahead of a flat finale. Past winners include Amalie Dideriksen, Chantal Blaak, Jolien D'hoore, Lizzie Deignan and Marianne Vos.

March 18: Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio - Italy continues its offering of hilly terrain for the women's peloton using punchy climbs in and around the town of Cittiglio, on the outskirts of Lago Maggiore. The race has been around since 1974 and joined the Women's WorldTour in 2016. Past winners include Coryn Rivera, Lizzie Deignan, Emma Johansson, Elisa Longo Borghini, Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley.

March 22: Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde - The series heads to Belgium for the cobbles classics. This event is a new addition to the series and reaps the benefits of bringing in the top 15 teams in the world in its first year. The route hasn't been announced, but we can expect the typical classics-style cobbled sectors and strong winds to set the tone for the new one-day race.

March 25: Gent-Wevelgem - At 143km, it is one of the longer one-day races on the calendar. Held between Boezinge and Wevelgem, the route offered five climbs including Kemmelberg and Monteberg, but it is slightly flatter race than some of the other classics, and a good warm-up for the Tour of Flanders. Past winners include Lotta Lepistö, Chantal Blaak, Floortje Mackaij and Lauren Hall.

April 1: Tour of Flanders - One of the most prestigious events to win on the Women's WorldTour, riders will compete for the title along the 153.3km route that includes five cobblestone sectors and 12 climbs before finishing in Oudenaarde. Climbs featured in this year's parcours include the Muur-Kapelmuur, and the back-to-back Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before the run-in to the finish line. Past winners include Coryn Rivera, Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen Van Dijk and Marianne Vos.

April 15-22: Ardennes Classics - Women's cycling got a boost last year with the inaugural Ardennes Classics triple crown - Alongside the long-running La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège made its debut on the women's circuit, while Amstel Gold Race returned after a 14-year hiatus. Anna van der Breggen won all three races and became the first winner of the women's Ardennes Classics triple crown. The races return this year with Amstel Gold on April 15, La Flèche Wallonne on April 18 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 22.

July 17: La Course by Le Tour de France - It kicks off the second block of one-day races mid-summer. ASO decided to do away with its two-day format from 2017. This year, the women will instead complete part of the Tour de France's stage 10, 118km from Duingt to Le Grand-Bornand that includes climbs over Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière and finish with a 12km descent. Last year, Annemiek van Vleuten won the two-day title after winning atop the Col d'Izoard and again in the pursuit-style race in Marseille. Past winners of the one-day editions include Chloe Hosking, Anna van der Breggen and Marianne Vos.

July 28: Prudential RideLondon Classique - The most lucrative one-day race for the women, organisers offered €25,000 for the winner in the 2016 and 2017 editions. The route starts at The Mall and brings the riders up and back down Constitution Hill before looping around St James' Park, up the Strand and back down towards The Mall. Past winners include Coryn Rivera and Kirsten Wild.

August 11 and 13: Postnord Vårgårda - The double-header weekend, Vågårda offers an undulating, 45.5km team time trial on August 11 and a 152km road race on August 13. The road race begins with four laps of an 11km loop, followed by one lap of a 53km loop that has four gravel sections. The race will finish with five laps of the 11km loop in Vårgåda. Boels Dolmans have won the last two editions of the team time trial, and before that, it was Rabobank-Liv and then Specialized-lululemon. Lotta Lepistö won the road race last year while other previous winners include Emilia Fahlin, Jolien D'hoore, Chantal Blaak, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Marianne Vos.

August 25: GP de Plouay- Lorient Agglomération - The French one-day race typically marks the start of the wind down to the racing season. The race takes place on a challenging circuit with a steep climb, Ty Marrec, following the start/finish line. Past winners include Lizzie Deignan, Eugenia Bujak, Lucinda Brand, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Marianne Vos.

September 3 - Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta - Spain will once again host the one-day race that includes 15 laps on a 5.8km circuit around the iconic Plaza Cibeles. Past winners include Jolien D'hoore and Shelley Olds.

October 21: Tour of Guangxi - China hosts both a stage race and then the series finale one-day race this year. The Tour of Guangxi is one of the three new additions to the series. Last year, it was a UCI 1.1 race won by Maria Vittoria Sperotto. The 110km race starts and finishes in Guilin. This year, it will close out the Women's WorldTour, and the overall winners will be crowned.

Visit Cyclingnews' dedicated women's page for more 2018 Women's WorldTour details as the season progresses.

Chantal Blaak wears rainbow jersey for the first time in 2018 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

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