Organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway announced Monday plans to move ahead with the long-awaited 'Battle of the North' in 2022. The event is tentatively planned to take place across six stages through Denmark, Norway and Sweden from August 16-21.
It has been reduced from its original 10-day proposal after organisers of the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda WestSweden TTT and Road Race opted not to be part of the new stage race event. With the two Vårgårda races also held in August, organisers could not fit a 10-day race into the UCI International Calendar.
"We worked hard to get Vårgårda and its stakeholders on board with the concept, but they want to develop their own unique concept. There is no 'bad feeling' from our side about it, Vårgårda is a unique event with strong local support and we have confidence that they will try to develop it," Roy Moberg, race director, said in a press release.
“A the same time it places some restrictions in us in relation to realising the Battle of the North as we had originally planned. There is simply no place in the UCI’s calendar for a 10-day stage race with the continuation of Vårgårda in the same time period in August."
Scandinavian race organisers unveiled plans for a new 10-stage event in 2019 that they believed would be the hardest race on the women’s calendar. They called the new event the 'Battle of the North' and intended for it to make its debut in 2021. However, COVID-19 put a halt to the season last spring, forcing many events to either cancel or postpone, with a truncated, revised late-season calendar held from August-November.
The six-day Battle of the North is supported by the organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway along with the Danish and Swedish Federations. The proposed route will start with two stages in Denmark, three stages in Norway and one stage in Sweden.
The Ladies Tour of Norway held its inaugural edition in 2014, won by Anna van der Breggen. Other winners include Megan Guarnier and Lucinda Brand, and Marianne Vos has won the previous three editions that have been part of the Women's WorldTour.
The Women's WorldTour calendar in 2022 is filling up with Itzulia Women and Vuelta a Burgos Feminas in May, the Women's Tour in June, promises from ASO for a women's Tour de France during the summer, and a potential return of the 10-day Giro Rosa to the top-tier series, after it was relegated last year for not offering live television.
This year, Women's WorldTour events held in August begin with Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda WestSweden TTT and Road Race on August 7 and 8, Ladies Tour of Norway from August 12-15, Boels Ladies Tour from August 24-29, and GP Plouay on August 30.
"It is no secret that we have tried to find a 'spot' in the UCI's [Women's] WorldTour calendar in May/June, which would have given us time to build on the concept of a 10-stage race with greater flexibility compared to other major global cycling events that normally take place in August. We haven't been able to get away with it for so long, but if we get a response from the UCI, it will continue to be a good thing," said Anders Eia Linnestad, the project leader for the technical management of the Battle of the North.
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