World-class sprinters go head-to-head at RideLondon Classique - Preview

World Champion Elisa Balsamo
World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The RideLondon Classique has not been held since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic and it returns this weekend.

Unlike in previous years when the race consisted of one stage, the 2022 edition of the RideLondon Classique will be three stages long. It will, however, still favour the sprinters as it traverses the predominantly flat south-east of England.

“It’s going to be suited more to the powerful riders, the strong sprinters,” said race director Scott Sunderland when the route was announced.

The first two stages offer some hilly obstacles. Stage 1 begins and ends in Maldon and contains five categorised climbs, albeit with relatively shallow gradients, while stage 2 travels from Chelmsford to Epping on slightly more undulating terrain.

The last stage will consist of the familiar circuit race around central London, although this year the start and finish will be on the Victoria Embankment rather than on The Mall.

Cyclingnews has published the full route details.

“When I raced at RideLondon before we were going round the Mall and it was pretty crazy with the fans and crowds,” the British road race champion Pfeiffer Georgi said ahead of her home race. “The noise just took over and so it was a pretty special experience, especially riding past Buckingham Palace.”

World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Georgi’s teammate Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) will start as the favourites since they have been the two most prolific sprinters so far this season in the Women’s WorldTour. 

In a magical week in March, Balsamo won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem, while Wiebes took victory at the Ronde van Drenthe.

Both riders will be supported by exceptionally strong teams. At Trek-Segafredo, Balsamo will be able to count on riders such as Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Chloe Hosking, while Wiebes’ sprint train has proven itself to be one of the most formidable in the peloton. 

Wiebes – who won the race in 2019 – will not be the only former winner on the start line. Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma) was victorious in 2017 when she was at the height of her powers and will be hoping to take a first win for her new team. 

Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) is another strong contender with six victories already this season while Alice Barnes (Canyon SRAM) will likely carry the British hopes for a stage win. Emma Norsgaard may not be a pure sprinter but watch for her to be a major contender in the three-day race for her Movistar squad.

The peloton will be racing for a reduced prize pot, however, as race organisers announced that €60,000 would be available across the three stages instead of the €100,000 that the one-day race offered. 

Live television coverage will also be diminished – only stage 3 will be broadcast live and a highlights package will be shown of stages 1 and 2.

The Run Up - RideLondon Classique

The Run Up video series, now in its second season, released the latests episode that takes viewers behind the scenes with Trek-Segafredo and Liv Racing-Xstra in their run up to RideLondon Classique, following the Itzulia Women's event held earlier in May.

"I think it's really important to have races like this for the young girls. When I raced Tour of Yorkshire, I saw all the primary school kids on the side of the road cheering us on and I think it will be really important for young girls to see that actually, they can become athletes. Our races are on TV now and they can make a job out of it. It's important for these races to come to the UK, more than just a couple times a year, so we can continue to inspire the next generation," said Elynor Backstedt (Trek-Segafredo).

"I hope to pick up where I left off last year. I was unfortunate and I finished my season earlier than I wanted to, and I was just getting back into the swing of things. I really want to be there at the pointy end, helping the girls out during the end. I hope to have my chance if my legs are there, but I really want to be finishing in the front during the lead-outs, having that important team role and just being there and being myself again in the peloton."

The series, which launched with three episodes last year, takes viewers inside some of the WorldTour’s best teams in the days leading up to cycling’s biggest races. Filmed, edited, and launched in the days immediately before a race, and narrated by journalist and commentator José Been.

Watch the latest episode of The Run Up above as these teams prepare for RideLondon Classique held from May 27-29.

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