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Ladies Tour of Norway 2021 - Preview

The peloton during stage 2 at 2019 Ladies Tour of Norway
The peloton during stage 2 at 2019 Ladies Tour of Norway (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Ladies Tour of Norway has returned to the calendar after being cancelled in 2020, and this year held from August 12-15 in the region of Østfold. 

Normally a punchy sprinters affair, this year's seventh edition of the race could see a dramatically different outcome as organisers have introduced a first-ever mountaintop finish that will feature on stage 3 at the Norefjell ski resort.

The Ladies Tour of Norway, which began in 2014, has annually hosted a world-class peloton with previous winners that include Anna van der Breggen, Megan Guarnier, Lucinda Brand, and three-time defending champion Marianne Vos.

This year's race will likely see its final edition as organisers have confirmed a future six-day race called the Battle of the North, together with the Danish and Swedish Federations in 2022.

Norway’s only WorldTour-race will be televised at Discovery+ and Eurovision as well as TV2 Norway and NOS in Holland.

Who to watch

While the race is held just two weeks following the road cycling events at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the peloton will be full of winning prospects as all nine Women's WorldTeams compete.

Annemiek van Vleuten will arrive with her Movistar Team as the favourite, given the stage 3 uphill finish will suit her skillset. She is currently leading the Women's WorldTour series ahead of Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). She recently earned the silver medal in the road race and gold medal in the time trial at the Olympic Games before returning to Europe to win Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa Women.

Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) will take a leadership role in the absence of defending champion Marianne Vos. Henderson has had a strong season in a support role for Vos throughout the Classics, but comes into Norway fresh off her own victory at the Tour de Belle Isle en Terre.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) also returns to racing after the Olympic Games and no doubt eyeing the mountaintop finish at Norefjell ski resort. She's had a strong season with six top 10s during the Classics, second at La Course, and her first top-tier stage victory at Vuelta a Burgos.

Lucy Kennedy will lead the way for Team BikeExchange having  just returned to racing two weeks ago after a lengthy recovery from injuries sustained in a crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Watch her form as it improves through the late-season races.

Team DSM field a few strong contenders in Liane Lippert, Juliette Labous and Coryn Rivera. Labous is likely to be the strongest climber of the three, however, if the race comes down to punchy breakaways look out for Lippert and Rivera to be in the mix.

SD Worx will not field Anna van der Breggen but they do line up with a strong, younger team of contenders with Niamh Fisher-Black and Anna Shackley. They are both strong climbers, and so if the race comes down to the ascent to Norefjell ski resort, watch for this team to have two cards to play.

Lizzie Deignan and Lucinda Brand line up as a strong pairing for Trek-Segafredo, both capable of winning the overall title. Deignan showed ahead of the Olympic Games that she can climb with the best, finishing fourth overall at the Giro d'Italia Donne. Brand is a past winner of the Ladies Tour of Norway and recently won Internationale LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour, and she would no doubt like to add another victory to her achievements.

Other riders to watch include Ale BTC Ljubljana's Marlene Reusser and Mavi Garcia, both returning from the Olympic Games, while Alison Jackson and Sofia Bertizzolo take up the reins at Liv Racing.

The route

Organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway announced the route details for this year's race held from August 12-15 in the region of Østfold, Norway. New to this year's parcours is a first-ever mountaintop finish that will feature on stage 3 at the Norefjell ski resort, which will likely be the most decisive moment of this edition when it comes to the overall classification.

Stage 1: Halden - Sarpsborg, 13km

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Stage 1 - Profile

Ladies Tour of Norway stage 1 - Profile (Image credit: Ladies Tour of Norway)

Ladies Tour of Norway will begin with an undulating 138.km race from Halden to Sarpsborg, which will include three local finishing circuits. En route, there are two intermediate sprints and two categorised climbs - Damholtet (1km at 6 per cent) and Skantebygda (2km at 3.5 per cent) - before finishing in Sarpsborg.

Stage 2: Askim - Mysen, 141.6km

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Ladies Tour of Norway stage 2 - Profile

Ladies Tour of Norway stage 2 - Profile (Image credit: Ladies Tour of Norway)

Stage 2 will offer the field a 141.6km route from Askim to Mysen and a slightly uphill finish that will cater to punchy sprinters. 

There are two intermediate sprints and one mid-race categorised ascent at Amundrod (1.2km at 5.3 per cent) before the race enters the finishing circuits in Mysen.

Stage 3: Drammen - Norefjell, 151.3km

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Ladies Tour of Norway stage 3 - Profile

Ladies Tour of Norway stage 3 - Profile (Image credit: Ladies Tour of Norway)

The event's first-ever mountaintop finish will happen on stage 3, a 151.3km race that starts in Drammen and finishes on a 10km ascent to the ski resort in Norefjell. 

The stage has a total elevation gain of 2,746 metres, but most of the elevation comes in the last 10 kilometres that features a 10 per cent grade. However, there is one categorised climb at the start of the race, Komperud (2.3km at 3.3 per cent), and one intermediate sprint mid-race before the peloton tackle the climb to Norefjell.

Stage 4: Drøbak - Halden, 150.4km

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Ladies Tour of Norway stage 4 - Profie

Ladies Tour of Norway stage 4 - Profile (Image credit: Ladies Tour of Norway)

The four-day race will conclude with stage 4, a 150.4km race between Drøbak and Halden. The stage will finish with three shorter laps in the centre of Halden. 

There are two mid-race climbs - Vamma (1.5km at 4 per cent) and Eidsberg (3km at 2.8 per cent) - that could cause some separations in the field. However, the flatter roads toward the finishing circuits will likely mean a bunch sprint for the finale at the Ladies Tour of Norway.

What to expect

The Ladies Tour of Norway has always been a race suited to the punchy sprinters offering compelling bunch sprints and breakaway victories along undulating routes through Norway.

Even though this year's race includes a first-ever mountaintop finish, fans can still expect to see three punchy sprint stages, much like in previous years, as riders aim for stage victories and points toward the sprint classifications. 

Watch for fast and punchy riders like Coryn Rivera (Team DSM), Lonneke Uneken (SD Worx), Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) on the flatter stages.

However, unlike previous year's, the 10km ascent to Norefjell will no doubt play the biggest deciding role in the outcome of the overall classification. 

This is where the biggest time gaps and separations will be made during the four-day race and teams with powerful climbers will want to protect these riders throughout the opening stages.

Teams

  • FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
  • Movistar Team
  • Team BikeExchange
  • Alé BTC Ljubljana
  • Canyon SRAM Racing
  • Team DSM
  • SD Worx
  • Trek-Segafredo Women
  • Liv Racing
  • Team Jumbo-Visma Women
  • Norway
  • Team Coop - Hitec Products
  • Drops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR
  • Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire Cycling Team
  • Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • Plantur-Pura
  • Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank
  • Valcar - Travel & Service

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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