A fast 2.4km prologue sorted out the order of the overall classification with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) taking the first leader's jersey at the Simac Ladies Tour. The road stages begin in earnest with a 134km stage 1 on Wednesday that is likely to culminate in a bunch sprint.
The strongest sprinters in the world including Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) and Kirsten Wild (Ceratizit-WNT) will take their chances for a stage win on the streets of Hardenberg.
The flat profile might lend itself to a bunch sprint but if the winds are high then we could see splits in the peloton if the sprint teams aren’t vigilant. There are plenty of fast-finishers at this race who will be vying for stage wins, as well as the overall, but who has the best chances in the bunch sprints?
Wiebes goes into stage 1 as the favourite after being almost unbeatable in bunch sprints earlier this season. She won two stages in her first Giro d'Italia Donne last month in emphatic style after impressive lead-outs from her Team DSM teammates and will be hoping to pull off a similar feat at this race.
Indeed, the Giro d'Italia Donne was the 22-year-old’s last race before Simac Ladies Tour, however her fifth place in the prologue proves that she is still in top form going into this race.
Wiebes has the help of teammates Leah Kirchmann and Susanne Andersen to lead her out for sprints, however she will be missing Coryn Rivera, who proved pivotal at the Giro d'Italia Donne.
"I think it was a good prologue for us,” explained Wiebes after the stage. “Of course we hoped for a little bit more, but I was really close to the podium in the end. I think the legs are good and we’re looking forward to the next stages."
Norsgaard was another rider who impressed in fast finishes at the Giro d'Italia Donne. She's a fast finisher although not necessarily a pure sprinter as she has proven herself capable of pulling off results in varying terrain.
Norsgaard has yet to beat Wiebes in a head-to-head sprint and if she comes to the line in a bunch containing the Dutchwoman the 22-year-old may need to be tactical about how she approaches her sprint.
Hosking, one of the peloton’s fastest riders, was out of competition between March and August to recover from a COVID-19 infection. The Australian sprinter returned to racing at the recent Ladies Tour of Norway and firmly marked her comeback by winning the final stage from a bunch kick. Hosking will be hoping to carry on that streak with the help of teammates such as Amalie Dideriksen and Lauretta Hanson in the final.
Elsewhere, Ceratizit-WNT’s Kirsten Wild, who has won 10 stages of the Simac Ladies Tour over the years, and Elisa Balsamo of Valcar Travel & Service will be hoping to disrupt the bigger teams and SD Worx’s Amy Pieters will be hoping to stretch her road sprinting legs after focusing on the track in the lead-up to Tokyo.
The 134km stage 1 starts at 11:00 CEST and will be broadcast live from 13:00 CEST. Details about the six-day event and the live broadcast schedule can be found in the Simac Ladies Tour - Preview.
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