Women's WorldTour leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) will skip the next round of the series at RideLondon Classique, opting instead to compete in the inaugural Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa that is held alongside the men's Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian on Saturday. The two-time Giro Rosa winner confirmed in June that she would be participating in the race and that she was impressed with the challenging route.
"Love it when they design a similar type of race for the women. First time this race will be organised for women. Love to race in Pais Vasco so I will be there! @sansebastian," Van Vleuten wrote in a post on Twitter.
Organisers of the men's Clásica Ciclista San Sebastián, Ciclistas Euskadi-OCETA, announced last July that they intended to promote a women's race in 2019. The organisation made the announcement at the San Sebastián City Council as part of the official presentation ahead of the men's race. Organisers said that the overall goal was to eventually build the new women's race to the highest level, aiming to become part of the Women's WorldTour.
The race is UCI 1.1 and will have the same start-finish area as the men's race in San Sebastian. The 126.7km route will also include much of the same climbs; Jaizkibel (category 1), Arkale (category 3), Mendizorrotz (category 2) and finish over the Murgil Tontorra (category 2).
Mitchelton-Scott will be fielding their best climbing team that also includes Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy, along with Jessica Allen, Alexandra Manly and Georgia Williams.
"Since they announced the first women's edition of San Sebastian I had hoped to be racing it," Kennedy said. "I've watched the men's race a few times and it's always an exciting race and the Basque fans are very enthusiastic. It will be great to be able to share the prestige and atmosphere by racing on the same day.
"It's a really tough course with relentless hills, which suits our team well. We showed our climbing strength at the Giro Rosa and are confident we can continue that here."
The team's director Alejandro Gonzales said that Mitchelton-Scott will work with their top three cards to play in Van Vleuten, Spratt and Kennedy.
"The idea for us is to play it open, we have several options with Spratt, Van Vleuten and Kennedy as well," Gonzales said. "It will be a hard race with lots of climbs, it is a new race but as usually we'll race as a team and will try to make the race as hard as possible. Everybody looks in good form and they are all looking forward to do some new racing."
Van Vleuten is leading the Women's WorldTour after performances in the spring that included victories at Strade Bianche and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and she was second at Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne. She went on to win two stages of the Giro Rosa and the overall classification.
Prudential RideLondon marks the next round of the Women's WorldTour, but Mitchelton-Scott are not currently listed on the starting roster. The race started in 2013 as a criterium and is now in its seventh edition, and it has been part of the Women's WorldTour since the series' inception in 2016. Although it has received some criticism for being a short circuit race, it does post one of the highest pay-outs in women's cycling at roughly €100,000 and has traditionally offered live streaming.