After a climber and GC-heavy focus for the last few rounds of the Women's WorldTour, it is the sprinters turn again as the series heads to the UK for the RideLondon Classique. It is effectively a criterium rather than an outright road race, but it comes with the biggest one-day race prize pot in women's cycling, ensuring a field to rival any race on the calendar. A whopping 25,000 euros are on offer for the victor and their team.
The Classique replaced the original RideLondon Grand Prix, which was created in conjunction with the longer men's road race. Laura Trott, Giorgia Bronzini and Barbara Guarischi were the three winners in its former guise, while Kirsten Wild won the rebranded Classique in her first attempt at the event.
Wild will be the rider to beat again this week as she dons the number one, racing in the colours of Cylance Pro Cycling this time out. Dani King will line-up alongside her, and as well as being a home favourite she will be a viable second option for the US-based team if Wild is out of sorts. Wild has not been the sure bet for victory this season as she has in other years, with plenty of riders stepping up to challenge her spot as the top sprinter in the pack.
Chief of her rivals will be from her former Team Sunweb. Coryn Rivera has long been touted as a future star, but has come into her own since joining the Sunweb squad. The 24-year-old already has three WorldTour wins under her belt with the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Tour of Flanders and a stage of the Tour of California. She came close on several occasions to taking a stage win at the Giro Rosa and will be eager to get onto the top step again soon enough. The team also has Leah Kirchmann, who finished third in last year's race.
Wiggle-High5 has two cards to play with the pure sprinter Giorgia Bronzini and the Classics power of Jolien D'hoore. Bronzini is likely to be the rider to watch if it comes down to a proper bunch sprint, but if it comes down to a much smaller group then D'hoore is the stronger card. Focused solely on the road this season, D'hoore has been racking up the wins this year and has claimed more than anyone else so far.
Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) has also been in flying form with one win apiece in the Women's Tour and the Giro Rosa. With Marta Bastianelli alongside her, Ale Cipollini could be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday. Canyon-SRAM's Hannah Barnes is another Giro Rosa stage winner that should be in the mix with her teammate, and former winner, Guarischi.
Gent-Wevelgem winner, Lotta Lepisto will be flying the flag for Cervelo-Bigla, and Marianne Vos is always one to keep an eye on for WM3 Pro Cycling no matter what the terrain. Boels Dolmans, as ever, have an enviable line-up with Chantal Blaak and Amy Pieters both potential contenders. Others to watch out for are the WNT pairing of Eileen Roe and Emily Kay, and Great Britain rider Neah Evans.
The route is a simple enough 5.5-kilometre loop around the heart of London, with the riders completing 12 laps. Starting and finishing on the Mall, the route first takes the riders towards Buckingham Palace, and up and back down Constitution Hill. As they make their way back to the front of the palace, they will turn right and then left along Birdcage Walk. Another sharp left brings them to Parliament Street towards Trafalgar Square. Before turning back towards the Mall, they will first ride up the Strand and then make a hairpin turn to bring them back to whence they came. There are some technical sections, but this is ultimately a very fast circuit and the racing will be all guns blazing right from the start.
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