Niewiadoma returns to defend title at OVO Energy Women's Tour

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) will return to the OVO Energy Women's Tour, the 13th round of the Women's WorldTour, set to take place from June 13-17 in Great Britain. The Polish rider will focus on the climbing stages while sprinters, sisters, Hannah and Alice Barnes will aim for wins during the sprint-friendly stages.

Last year, Niewiadoma won the overall title ahead of Christine Majerus and Hannah Barnes. She won the opening stage from a long-range breakaway and held the race lead through to London to secure the title. She is currently fifth in the Women's WorldTour standings but was not initially scheduled to compete in this year's race. A change of plans was welcomed, however, as she will use the five-day race to prepare for the Giro Rosa in July.

This year's parcours is hiller than in previous years. The event includes several climbs that could shake out the overall classification. Stage 2 features climbs over Weedon Hill and Newnham Hill, stage 3 climbs over Edge Hill and Burton Dassett, stage 4 over Snowshill and stage 5 over Nant Gwynant.

"I saw the stage profiles and I can say that they are going to hurt," Niewiadoma said. "It's a demanding and unpredictable race and I love this. I have decided to race again because of these hard stages, which I believe will help me to get into better shape before the Giro Rosa. I love all of the fans along the roadside and I have amazing memories from last year. I'm coming into this race with no pressure and no expectations on myself. It will be pure racing for the team. At the moment, I feel happy and complete on my bike and that's all that matters."

The team also includes Alena Amialiusik, Lisa Klein, who returns to the peloton after recovering from a broken collarbone, and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. The Barnes sisters will look for success on the flat-to-punchy stages.

"I'm looking forward especially to stage 2 as it’s my ‘home’ stage and I know a lot of people that will be coming to watch," said Hannah Barnes, who was third overall last year. 

"When you race all over the world, it's nice to race on some familiar roads. I think our team has good chances for a successful week, with many of us capable of winning stages. If I can add to that or improve on my place in the overall, then that would be great."

Alice Barnes comes to the event in good form, too, after winning a stage of the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour. "We will be racing on roads around where I grew up riding my bike and have a lot of fond memories," she said. "It will be really nice to see friends along the routes cheering for us. The stage 3 finish in Royal Leamington Spa will bring back good memories for me where I finished second last year. This stage is always really exciting with some tough steep climbs finishing in a reduced bunch sprint."

Canyon-SRAM announced Thursday that they will swap out their usual team colours for a new design at this year's OVO Energy Women's Tour. The team chose the fifth edition of the event as an opportunity to highlight its partner's collaborative efforts ahead of the Rapha Women's 100, which is held in September. The event is meant inspire female cyclists across the world to come together to ride 100km on the same day.

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