The women's professional peloton had their first taste of the UCI Road World Championships course on Friday when stage 1 of the Women's Tour of Yorkshire raced over the finishing circuit of the September's marquee event.
Although the first stage of the Women's Tour de Yorkshire Race only raced over the 16.5km Worlds finishing circuit once on the road to Bedale, it provided Marianne Vos and national teammate Annemiek van Vleuten with a rare competitive outing on the rolling roads they will race on when they aim to win another road world title for the Netherlands later in the year.
"The big win today was that I didn't get cold," Vos told Cyclingnews at the finish in Bedale on day that saw Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenberg) take the win.
"It was nice. It was wet and there weren't too many corners but because of the rain they became quite technical. Everyone wanted to be in front because it was so narrow and because it's on rolling roads after a long race that's going to get into your legs. You normally won't make the difference on the climb but you're going to feel it in the final. I expect a beautiful race in September," Vos added.
Vos, a three-time world champion on the road, added that Yorkshire was a "typical Worlds course' and that "there's no long climb but there's not much recovery and if you're in the back it's going to really stretch out. I like it, it's a good course."
One key factor come September could be the weather. The roads in the North of England are difficult enough even in the best of conditions but should the Worlds see rainfall then the races will take on another dynamic.
"Then you need to even more in the front because then it gets even more selective. It will favour more of the Classics style riders. We’ll have to see what the weather does," Vos said.
"The lap itself isn’t too difficult but after a super hard race, and because Worlds is always nervous and the speed is high, it will make the final hard."
Vos and Van Vleuten will remain in Yorkshire at the start of next week in order to recon the Worlds course with the rest of their national teammates. Van Vleuten, who is still hunting her first Worlds road title, admitted that her main focus at Yorkshire was on supporting her teammates and enjoying herself after a stellar Ardennes campaign saw her win Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finish second both Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne.
"It's only bit of the Worlds but it's a bit of a criterium, I think. Especially with the descent and in the wet, "the Mitchelton-Scott rider told Cyclingnews as she ate her post-race meal outside the team bus.
"You'd better be in the front of the race but I'll stay here for the recon next week with the Dutch national team. I wasn't super focused on the Worlds today but it was left, right, and a bit like a criterium and I think that it can be a hard race. It's going to be stretched out."
Despite the rain today van Vleuten praised the local crowds for their support.
"There were so many people out here watching in the rain. I'm impressed with the people from Yorkshire. Shout out to them for coming out. The school kids were all out. It was cool."
The Tour de Yorkshire Women's Race continues on Saturday with the final stage between Bridlington and Scarborough.
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