The 2019 Ladies Tour of Norway brings the Women's WorldTour back to late-summer stage-racing held from August 22-25. Last year saw Marianne Vos win all three stages and the overall title. It has become somewhat of a stomping ground for the decorated Dutchwoman, who also won the overall title in 2017. The question is: can she repeat such a dominant display of strength for the third year in a row?
Vos has had one of her best seasons since taking a break from the sport in 2015. She kicked off this year by winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda- Comune di Cittiglio and Tour de Yorkshire, then a stage at the OVO Energy Women's Tour, four stage wins at the Giro Rosa, and La Course. Her string of success was impressive, but several other stand-out riders are capable of taking on Vos in Norway.
Marta Bastianelli (Virtu) won Omloop van het Hageland, Ronde van Drenthe, Tour of Flanders, Gracia Orlova, and a stage of Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, but a knee injury forced her out of the Giro Rosa. She returned to win the Italian National Championships and claimed a dominant victory at the Postnord Vargarda West Sweden where Vos placed a close second.
The next in line of a series of contenders is Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg). She won the road race at the European Games, all three stages and the overall title at the Tour of Chongming Island and the Prudential RideLondon Classique. She was third in the sprint behind Bastianelli and Vos in Sweden last weekend.
Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) won the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau and her time trial National Championships in Canada, but hasn't had a victory since. She's been close, though, with second place at La Course (behind Vos). Her team also have a winning sprinter in Coryn Rivera and a selection of riders for the climbs such as Juliette Labous and Liane Lippert.
Boels Dolmans bring a series of punchy riders in Canadian champion Karol-Ann Canuel, Danish champion Amalie Dideriksen, Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus, and climber Eva Buurman.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma returns to the start line with Canyon-SRAM, and the punchy course suits her well. But the team also have sprinters in Alice Barnes and Alexis Ryan, and BeNe Ladies Tour winner Lisa Klein.
Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) will be one to watch for the punchy, sprint stages. The team have a series of contenders, however, with Lauretta Hanson, Ruther Winder and Tayler Wiles.
Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) is back to racing after suffering from a concussion in a crash at RideLondon. She finished fourth in Vargarda and will be a contender for stage wins in Norway.
Riders to watch from the remaining teams include Grace Brown and Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott), Aude Biannic (Movistar), Stine Borgli (FDJ), Sara Bergen (Rally UHC), Alison Jackson (Tibco-SVB), Rachele Barbiere (BePink), Elena Pirrone (Valcar Cylance), Anna Christian (Drops), Marta Tagliaferro (Hitec), Mieke Docx (Doltcini) and Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana).
The Ladies Tour of Norway will embark on its sixth edition and third season as part of the Women's WorldTour. It could be the penultimate edition as Scandinavian race organisers have unveiled a new ten-stage event that they believe will be the hardest race on the women's calendar. The new race will be known as the Battle of the North and will make its debut in 2021.
The race is the combined efforts of the organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway and the Vargarda WestSweden, along with the Danish Cycling Federation. The new event will replace the Norwegian and Swedish races, which come back-to-back in August.
This year's Ladies Tour of Norway is back to a four-day schedule. Organisers did away with the single-day, separated team time trial, and will instead offer four road stages.
Stage 1: August 22 - Åsgårdstrand to Horten, 128km
The women will line up in Åsgårdstrand and contest the first of two intermediate sprints in Revetal (23.5km) with the second sprint taking place much later in the stage in Holmestrand (88.1km). The stage also includes two categorised mountains; Kjønnerød (33.2km) is 1.4km and 3 per cent grade, Hanekleiva (69.8km) is much more challenging at 3km and nearly 4 per cent grade. The race will likely finish in a sprint in Horten.
Stage 2: August 23 - Mysen to Askim, 131km
Starting in Mysen, the peloton will sprint for points at the 15km mark in Rakkestad before taking on the first of two ascents; Linnekleppen (35km) is 1km and 3.5 per cent, and in Ørje (55.2km) is 1.2km and nearly 4 per cent grade. They will descend into the second intermediate sprint in Mysen and then tackle four hilly finishing circuits in Askim.
Stage 3: August 24 - Moss to Halden (Fredriksten fortress), 125km
The peloton will venture onto another hilly course for the penultimate stage. There is only one main climb in Stuffosstjern (32km), but it is bigger than the climbs on the two previous stages at 5km at 2.3 per cent grade. There are also two intermediate sprints: Våler (21km) and Halden (116km). The peloton will cross the finish line once (at 117.8km) before rounding the final small loop and finishing on a climb at Fredriksten Fortress. The climb to the finish line is short and steep at 1.3km and 7.3 per cent grade.
Stage 4: August 25 - Svinesund to Halden, 154km
The Ladies Tour of Norway will end with the longest stage of the race at 154.7km that includes gravel sections - and organisers refer to as the queen stage. There are two final intermediate sprints: Stene (15km) and upon entering the finish circuits in Halden (140km). There are also two final climbs: Daftõ (33km) at under a kilometre long and 1 per cent grade, and in Glende (61km) at 2.2km and 3.5 per cent grade. The peloton will complete three laps of a 5km finish circuit in Halden.
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