Late season stage racing resumes at the Simac Ladies Tour, formerly called the Boels Ladies Tour, on August 30 where the most powerful riders in the peloton aim to secure the overall title upon its conclusion in on September 4 in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Not known for being a race for the pure climbers due to its primarily flatter terrain, technical courses and strong winds, needless to say, the race favours the most powerful riders, strongest time triallists and breakaway specialists.
The most recent overall winners of this week-long event include defending champion and two-time winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) and her teammate Christine Majerus, twice winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit WNT), who recently announced her retirement, Evelyn Stevens, Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), and four-time winner Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
The inaugural race was held in 1998 and its shifted between a 2.1 and a 2.2 level event on the women's calendar for much of that time. It joined the Women's WorldTour in 2017 where it has proven one of the prestigious late-season stage races, for all but the 2020 season when it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Cauberg and ITT set to shake up the GC
This year's event is largely flat, especially in the opening three stages. The race begins in Lelystad for stage 1, and is held on 2.5 local laps of 60.4 kilometres, where van den Broek-Blaak noted the tricky aspects of the route.
"The first stage can be treacherous. That is typical for races in the Netherlands. Something can always happen here, there is often chaos. When there's a bit of wind, it can be pulled to the side and then it's important not to miss the right echelon."
The race heads to Ede for stage 2, with a first-time visit to Linburg and Gelderland during on stage 3 that starts and finishes in Gennep.
There are some undulating routes in the second half of the event, starting with stage 4's route through Landgraaf. The peloton will complete three 41km loops through the Heuvelland that tackle six climbs per lap including the Cauberg and Gulperberg, for a total of 18 ascents.
If the GC is not well and truly split apart at this point of the race, it will be with a potentially GC-deciding individual time trial on the penultimate stage 5. The 17.8km route includes two climbs between Windraak and the finish in Watersley.
The six-day race then concludes with a flat and fast stage 6 finale in Arnhem.
"It's a cliché, but you really have to look at the Ladies Tour day by day. In the beginning it's not so much about winning time, but more about not losing any," van den Broek-Blaak said.
- Stage 1 - Lelystad to Lelystad, 141.2km
- Stage 2 - Ede to Ede, 117.8km
- Stage 3 - Gennep to Gennep, 139.1km
- Stage 4 - Landgraaf to Landgraaf, 135.2km
- Stage 5 - Windraak to Watersley, 17.8km (ITT)
- Stage 6 - Arnhem to Arnhem, 150.3km
Van den Broek-Blaak returns with powerful SD Worx
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak won the Simac Ladies Tour for the second time in her career ahead of Marlen Reusser and Ellen van Dijk. Reusser won the stage 2 time trial last year, however, she lost the overall race lead on stage 4 to van den Broek-Blaak, who finished third on that day as separations opened up throughout the field into Sweikhuizen. The Dutch rider then held her lead through the final day.
Van den Broek-Blaak returns to defend her title, and she is at least aiming for a stage win or two, with a strong SD Worx squad that includes former winner Majerus and Elena Cecchini, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Lonneke Uneken and Roxane Fournier. However, the team is notably without its time trial specialist Reusser.
Trek-Segafredo will likely be the team-to-beat with time trial world champion Ellen van Dijk returning with a powerful team that includes Chloe Hosking, Lauretta Hanson, Amalie Dideriksen, Elynor Backstedt and Audrey Cordon-Ragot, for a team strong enough for stage wins and control a wide range of race scenarios to their favour.
Lorena Wiebes gives Team DSM a contender for all the flat stages complete with her full lead-out team of Charlotte Kool, Franziska Koch, Liane Lippert and Leah Kirchmann, who announced this would be her last race before retiring from a 12-year pro cycling career. For the overall classification, the team can also look to Lippert and Pfeiffer Georgi.
Ruby Roseman-Gannon adds a powerful sprint to the race for BikeExchange-Jayco, while Commonwealth Games champion Georgia Baker and Amanda Spratt will give the team two good GC options.
“We have a really strong and versatile team for Simac Ladies Tour. We’re hoping to carry the momentum from Scandinavia and Plouay where the team have had a huge impact on the races," Baker said.
"Both Ruby and Spratty are in great form and we’ll aim to help them on GC. I had a little bit of time off after Commonwealth Games to refresh for the back half of the season, but I’m sure the form is still there and I hope to finish off the flatter and faster stages well for the team.”
Other riders to watch include Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM), Eleonora Gasparrini and Chiara Consonni (valcar Travel & Service), Rachele Barbieri and Alison Jackson (Liv Racing Xstra), who won the opening stage and took the first leader's jersey in last year's edition.
- Team SD Worx
- Team DSM
- Canyon-SRAM Racing
- UAE Team ADQ
- Valcar-Travel & Service
- Team BikeExchange-Jayco
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Liv Racing Xstra
- Parkhotel Valkenburg
- AG Insurance - NXTG Team
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
- GT Krush Tunap Pro Cycling
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