Vårgårda's team time trial has been positioned as one of the last opportunities for trade teams to race against the clock ahead of the UCI Team Time Trial World Championships, this year being held in Innsbruck, Austria, on September 23.
Some new additions to the Women's WorldTour calendar this year means that teams will have two more opportunities to compete in the discipline after Vårgårda's team time trial: first, there's a stand-alone team time trial at the Ladies Tour of Norway on August 16, held the day before the start of the three-day race from August 17-19, and then there's the newly added team time trial stage to the now two-day Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta in September.
Vårgårda's team time trial event returns with a 42.5km route on rolling roads with several sweeping turns and a few sharp corners. The course is a familiar one - used since the first edition of the Vårgårda team time trial in 2009.
Boels Dolmans have won the event for two years in a row and will line up aiming for a third consecutive victory. Last year, they won by 12 seconds over runners-up Cevélo Bigla and 50 seconds over Canyon SRAM. The team posted the fastest time at both intermediate splits en route to the quickest time over the nearly 43-kilometre course, setting the winning time of 52:39.
The last team to have a stronghold over this team time trial was Specialized-Lululemon, which won its first title in 2011 as HTC-HighRoad, and then three subsequent titles from 2012-2014 under the Specialized brand.
Boels Dolmans will line up with a strong team that (provisionally) includes Women's WorldTour leader Anna van der Breggen, world champion in the road race Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters, Amalie Dideriksen, Karol-Ann Canuel and Christine Majerus.
The top teams coming out of the Vårgårda team time trial is a good indicator of which teams will do well at the World Championships - Specialized-Lululemon had won the Vargarda TTT and then the Worlds title on three occasions. That is not always precise, however, as last year Sunweb placed fourth in Sweden and then went on to take the Worlds title in Bergen.
Current world champions Sunweb - a team that also won the opening TTT at the Giro Rosa this year - will arrive with Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Juliette Labous, Floortje Mackaij, Pernille Mathiesen and Coryn Rivera, but will not start with recent European Championships time trial winner Ellen Van Dijk.
Twice runners-up, Cervélo Bigla will want to take the top step on the podium with their team of Lotta Lepistö, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Clara Koppenburg, Ann-Sophie Duyck and Emma Cecilie Jorgensen.
Third placed last year, Canyon-SRAM will bring Alena Amialiusik, Tanja Erath, Elena Cecchini, Lisa Klein, Trixi Worrack and Alice Barnes.
Mitchelton-Scott will bring a strong team, but it does not include current time trial world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten. The team will field Jolien D'hoore, Gracie Elvin, Sarah Roy, Alexandra Manly and Lucy Kennedy.
The line-up of teams will also include Wiggle High5, Ale Cipollini, Hitec Products, Waowdeals Pro Cycling, BTC City Ljubljana, Astana Women's Team, Cogeas-Mettler, Movistar Team Women, FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Tibco-SVB Virtu Cycling and Valcar PBM.
If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be part of a top-level cycling team, and to be on the ground, inside the barriers, at the Tour de France, then RUNNING WITH WOLVES will take you there. It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD.