The inaugural Women's Tour of Scotland kicks off on Friday, August 9 in Dundee. The event has brought in some of the top teams in the world to participate in the three-day race that will conclude on Sunday, August 11 in Edinburgh.
The organisers of the race announced the 16 participating teams in July, but the number-one-ranked team in the world – Boels Dolmans – will not be participating as initially planned. Ale Cipollini, Bigla, Valcar-Cylance, Parkhotel Valkenburg and Lotto Soudal Ladies will be on the start line, along with American teams Tibco-SVB and Rally UHC.
Katie Archibald will lead Team Scotland at the three-day race. She unveiled the coveted Baillie Gifford leader's jersey at the investment management firm's HQ in Edinburgh last month. The jersey is made from recycled plastic bottles and is traditional race yellow with a Scottish twist – a saltire design in blue and purple.
"This is a great route for a race and the sheer calibre of teams and riders who will be racing the first Women's Tour of Scotland is really exciting," Archibald said. "I'm proud to be involved with the Tour and I really hope more women and girls will be inspired to start cycling as a result."
One of the main riders to watch will be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig who will lead her team Bigla during the three-day race. The Danish all-rounder has had an outstanding season with podium finishes at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Tour of Flanders and La Course.
"I am thrilled to be playing a part in the Tour," said Ludwig. "Unfortunately, cycling is a sport still dominated by men, so it's fantastic to be part of a tour that is launching a women's edition first. The race has already received a good level of exposure, which is fantastic for women's cycling. I hope more people notice the race and want to get out there and watch. We want to get people involved.
"We want people to get out there on their bikes and enjoy cycling like we do. It's always a dream for every cyclist to be able to inspire others to get on their bikes and develop the same passion. I'm hoping people will cherish this race and come along and I think it could be a real landmark moment for women's cycling.
"I'm really looking forward to getting out there and racing with a strong field. Coming into the season, I felt nervous to have taken on the responsibility of being team leader, but it felt very natural very quickly. It is another task I have on my hands, but I love the role. It's something that comes very naturally to me, especially because I'm working with the best group of girls.
"We have a lot of young riders, but they're all so keen. They want to learn how to become better, which makes it so enjoyable to work with them. I try to pass on the advice I've learned since being professional to help us get the best results in our upcoming races. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and discovering the route and the beautiful landscape of Scotland."
Also on the start line will be Brodie Chapman (Tibco-SVB) and Emma White (Rally UHC). Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) was expected to start the race. However, she was involved in a crash at the RideLondon Classique, and so her start is uncertain. Likewise, Drops Cycling were expecting to start Elinor Barker, but she, too, was involved in the London crash and broke her collarbone.
The race's other teams see Team GB go up against their Scottish counterparts and other UK based teams including Brother and Torelli, who have included Scotland's Jen George their roster.
Challenging three-day parcours
The three-day race is set to take the women's peloton across the country from Dundee to Edinburgh via Perth.
Friday's stage 1 starts in Dundee with a 103km stage to Dunfermline. The riders will cross Tay Road Bridge, crossing into Fife, with a sprint in Cupar and the race's first classified climb at Grange of Lindores. Two more sprints in Falkland and Leslie precede the second climb on Cleish Hill before the finish in Pittencrief Park.
Saturday's stage 2 starts in Glasgow with 139.4km of racing to Perth. The riders set off from George Square, crossing Lamb Hill with a sprint in Aberfoyle coming just before the only climb of the day at Duke's Pass. The riders will contest two more intermediate sprints in Strathyre and Crief before the flat finish in front of Perth's Council Chambers.
Sunday's stage 3 starts and finishes in the historic centre of Edinburgh at Holyrood Park, coinciding with the Edinburgh Festival. The 118.3km loop heads south towards Peebles with three sprints at Innerleithen, Bonnyrigg and the first time through Holyrood Park. They will then face three classified climbs on the final circuit before a downhill to the finish line where the overall winner will be crowned.