After a string of summer stage races, the Women's WorldTour heads back to the one-day 2019 Prudential RideLondon Classique in London on August 3. The circuit race caters to the fastest women in the peloton, including Kirsten Wild (WNT-Rotor), who returns to try and defend her title against a stacked field – all aiming to sprint for the highest one-day purse in women's cycling on live TV.
The race started in 2013 as a criterium and is in its seventh edition, but it has been part of the Women's WorldTour since the series' inception in 2016.
Organisers have received some criticism for offering a short circuit race compared to the men's Surrey Classic, but they have also been credited for offering the highest prize pay-outs in women's cycling at roughly €100,000. The race also offers live streaming.
Organisers were disappointed to learn that their one-day race was not selected to be part of the 2020 Women's WorldTour. RideLondon moved its race date for next year to avoid conflict with the Olympic Games, but the new date overlapped with the Ladies Tour of Norway (August 13-16). The UCI has stated that it does not want events on the Women's WorldTour calendar to overlap because it leads to logistical difficulties for teams.
RideLondon organisers have vowed to try and find a way to work with the UCI to reconsider its decision and keep the race on the Women's WorldTour.
"The Classique has held WorldTour Status since 2016 and is the richest one day women's cycling race," said Hugh Brasher, the event director. "It was the first Women's WorldTour race to have exactly the same prize money as its men's WorldTour equivalent, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, which takes place on the following day. It is held in the centre of one the world's greatest cities and is broadcast live to a worldwide television audience of millions.
"We hope for the benefit of women's cycling, where we have led the way in financial parity… we will find a way for the UCI to be able to reconsider its decision and restore UCI WorldTour status to the Classique in 2020."
Route: Shortened circuit cuts out Big Ben
Last year's race was 12 laps of a 5.3km circuit for a total of 64.1km. Organisers shortened the circuit this year to 3.4km and the women will race 20 laps for a total of 68km.
The circuit starts on The Mall next to St. James's Park in central London. The route continues clockwise around St. James's Park and past the Horse Guards Parade. It then goes down Birdcage Walk and passed Buckingham Palace and onto Constitution Hill. The peloton will travel up Constitution Hill to the end and then turn around and come back the same way, head back onto The Mall for the finish line.
Organisers have cut out the section of last year's course that included Admiralty Arch, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square.
Canyon-SRAM's Tiffany Cromwell said that racing in downtown London, around iconic landmarks, is one of the highlights of her season.
"For me, personally, the highlight of Prudential RideLondon has to be simply the magnitude of the event in terms of set up and support and how they truly involve the community and the entire city," she said.
"To have the opportunity to race on a circuit in the centre of London on a Saturday early evening, in front of such iconic landmarks as Buckingham Palace is pretty awesome.
"It's always a hard and fast race, typically made for sprinters, but I love coming to this race and feeling like our sport truly gets the recognition that it deserves when we race Prudential Ride London."
Wild back for a third victory in London
In the 2018 edition of RideLondon Classique, Kirsten Wild (then Wiggle High5) triumphed on The Mall for a second time after her 2016 win. In a headwind sprint, the Dutchwoman beat Marianne Vos (then WaowDeals) to the line, with Elisa Balsamo (Valcar PBM) finishing in third place. All three riders will be returning for the chance to stand on the podium once again.
Wild is expected to return to the race to defend her title with WNT-Rotor, but she will face a series of very strong sprinters.
The 2017 champion Coryn Rivera and her Sunweb teammate Leah Kirchmann will be on the start line. Kirchmann has proven her mid-season form after placing second at La Course by Le Tour de France in July.
Marianne Vos (now CCC-Liv), who won La Course along with four stages of the Giro Rosa in July, will return to try and win RideLondon after placing second to Wild in the sprint last year.
Elisa Balsamo (now Valcar-Cylance) placed third last year and will also want a chance to win the prestigious one-day race. She was recently second at the Italian national championships and in top sprinting form.
Newly crowned Italian champion Marta Bastianelli will also be on the start line with her Virtu Cycling teammates. She took some time off in July due to a knee injury but has proven to be back to her winning ways after securing the national title on the weekend.
Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) will be one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton to watch. She has had an excellent season that includes 10 victories: Nokere Koerse, Omloop van Borsele, a stage at the Tour de Yorkshire, all three stages and the overall title at Tour of Chongming Island, Diamond Tour, European Games road race, the Dutch road championships and a stage at the BeNe Ladies Tour.
Canyon-SRAM bring two strong sprinters in Alexis Ryan and Alice Barnes. Ale Cipollini have a formidable sprinter in Chloe Hosking. Trek-Segafredo bring three potential winners in Letizia Paternoster, Lotta Lepistö and Lauretta Hanson.
Boels Dolmans' sprinter Jolien D'hoore was involved in a crash at the BeNe Ladies Tour that resulted in a broken elbow, and she announced that she would be forced to take time off to recover. Her team will field two former world champions Chantal Blaak and Amalie Dideriksen.
Organisers announced the teams that will be participating in the race will include Ale Cipollini, Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, Canyon-SRAM Racing, CCC-Liv, Drops, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Hitec Products-Birk Sport, Lotto Soudal Ladies, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Rally UHC Cycling, Team Sunweb, Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, Team Virtu Cycling, Trek-Segafredo and Valcar Cylance Cycling.
Noticeably absent from the start list is Mitchelton-Scott and their Women's WorldTour leader Annemiek van Vleuten. The team chose to instead compete at the inaugural Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa alongside the men's Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday.
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