When the organisers of the Ladies Tour of Norway, held this year from August 17-19, decided to reduce their stage race from four days to three, they did away with the opening prologue. Instead, they've added a standalone team time trial, which takes place on Thursday, August 16.
Both events are part of the Women's WorldTour, marking the 19th and 20th rounds. Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) is currently leading the individual series ahead of Mitchelton-Scott teammates Annemiek Van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt.
Boels Dolmans lead the team ranking ahead of Mitchelton-Scott and Canyon-SRAM. And the powerful Dutch squad head into Norway's TTT as the team to beat after winning the Postnord Vårgårda West Sweden's Team Time Trial on August 11.
In Sweden, they covered a 42.5km course in a winning time of 53:07, which was 16 seconds faster than runner-up Team Sunweb and 47 seconds faster than third-placed Cervelo Bigla.
The route in Norway, however, is much shorter at only 24.3km, and that detail alone could change the outcome. The race will start in Aremark and finish at Fredriksten Fortress. The course is mainly flat to rolling, and with a climb to the finish.
The trio of team time trials held at the end of the season – the Postnord Vårgårda West Sweden, the Ladies Tour of Norway and the newly added stage of the Madrid Challenge – form what are considered the final preparations for the team time trial held at the UCI Road World Championships at the end of September.
Boels Dolmans will field a team made up of Danish road-race champion Amalie Dideriksen, Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus, Megan Guarnier and Karol-Ann Canuel, who all raced in Sweden, and joining the line-up are Skylar Schneider and Anna Plichta. Series leader Van der Breggen will not be racing.
Team Sunweb won the world title in the discipline last year in Bergen, Norway, and although they fell short this year in Vårgårda, they will no doubt want to reclaim the top step of the podium at this new event Norway. The team also won the team time trial at the Giro Rosa, and will want to test their form as they head into the world championships as the defending champions next month. The team will include Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Liane Lippert, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera and Ruth Winder.
Mitchelton-Scott, second to Sunweb in the team time trial at the Giro Rosa by just one second, will field a stronger time trial team than the one in Vårgårda, where they placed seventh. World champion in the individual time trial Annemiek Van Vleuten will return to racing for the first time since winning both the Giro Rosa and La Course, and she'll be joined by Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin, Lucy Kennedy, Alexandra Manly and Jessica Allen.
"For the team time trial, I'm looking forward to going as hard as we can, especially as we did the TTT so well at the Giro Rosa. It's inspired me to go again. I think we've shown that we could maybe win [the overall race] in Norway, so I'm looking forward to starting the race with the TTT, which is also super-good preparation for the world championships team time trial.
"I have done a lot of TT training already for the world championships, so I'm used to riding on the TT bike."
Cervelo Bigla are also proven contenders for victory in the team time trial, having placed on the podium in Vårgårda three times, and having finished twice as bronze medallists at the World Championships. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio will lead that team alongside Lotta Lepistö, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Clara Koppenburg, Ann-Sophie Duyck and Emma Cecilie Norsgaard.
Also on the start line are Canyon-SRAM, likely looking to take one or two steps up on the podium from their fourth place in Sweden. WaowDeals will line up with Vårgårda's road race winner Marianne Vos, who is the defending champion at the Ladies Tour of Norway stage race. Wiggle High5 will field Elisa Longo Borghini, Kirsten Wild and Katie Archibald.
The remaining participating teams include Valcar PBM, Ale Cipollini, BTC City Ljubljana, Hitec Products, FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope, Astana, Movistar, Cogeas-Mettler, Tibco-SVB, BePink, Virtu Cycling and Lotto Soudal. National teams will include Sweden and Norway.
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