The Tour de France Femmes may be over but the racing evolution continues this week with the Tour of Scandinavia – built on the foundation of the Ladies Tour of Norway.
The new six-stage race will take riders through Denmark, along the coast of Sweden, and into Norway from Tuesday August 9 to Sunday August 14, delivering further opportunities for general classification riders to extend themselves in a growing Women's WorldTour calendar.
The race will take the peloton from Copenhagen to the Swedish coast and then the route will hark back to familiar territory from the former four-day Ladies Tour of Norway.
The racing will head from the coastal town of Moss, further inland to Mysen and then onto the climb to Norefjell, likely to be pivotal in the competition for the general classification. The first overall victor will then be crowned in Halden.
After taking on the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes combination, and winning both, last year’s Tour of Norway winner Annemiek van Vleuten will be absent from the race. Demi Vollering (SD Worx), however, started her run at the Tour de France Femmes, where she came second, so will be taking to the start line for the first Tour of Scandinavia as a key favourite.
Also sure to attract plenty of attention will be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ–Futuroscope) who’ll have the rare opportunity to set off in front of a home crowd, with the Copenhagen start marking the beginning of the first Women's WorldTour racing in Denmark.
Some riders will be looking for the Tour of Scandinavia to deliver the hoped-for results the French tour didn’t and others who missed out altogether will be hoping to prove their stage racing prowess so the same doesn’t happen next year.
The biggest motivator, however, will of course be chasing the first ever Tour of Scandinavia crown and another chance to mark the name in the history books as part of the ever-growing chapter on women's cycling.
With last year’s Tour of Norway winner, Van Vleuten, absent, there is no looking past the rider who came second to her at the Tour de France: Demi Vollering (SD Worx).
The 25-year-old wasn’t on the start line in 2021, so we haven’t got to see how she fares specifically on the ascent to Norefjell, but from what we’ve seen in recent weeks she is clearly carrying the best climbing form of any of the riders on the start list, having finished a clear second to the Movistar rider on both of the mountainous stages of the Tour de France Femmes.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be continuing through from both the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes, with the lure of a first ever Women’s WorldTour race on home soil enough to see the Danish rider from FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope continue her run. The 26-year-old, who came fifth in the Ladies Tour of Norway last year, finished seventh overall at the Tour de France Femmes and also took a stage win, plus with a history of being buoyed by the crowds there's every incentive to race aggressively on home territory – not the she usually needs an excuse to animate the racing.
Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ) is also another rider to watch who’ll be making it a trio of stage races with Italy, France and Scandinavia, having finished eighth at the Giro Donne d’Italia while also riding in support of third-placed Mavi Garcia. Team DSM also have a strong card to play on the uphill finish, with Liane Lippert who finished tenth on the final stage of the Tour de France Femmes to La Super Planche des Belles Filles.
Lucinda Brand is a promising prospect for the overall for Trek Segafredo, with this year’s Tour de Suisse winner well able to handle herself on the punchy stages, and descents as well as the climbs. The versatile rider also has history on her side, having won the Ladies Tour of Norway back in 2016. The team will also have the winner of the youth classification of the Tour de France Shirin van Anrooij for when the road heads up and Chloe Hosking for the sprint stages. The final stage to Halden will likely be of particular interest for the Australian as that’s where she took a stage victory last year at the race's predecessor event.
Winner of the Tour of Norway from 2017 through to 2019, Marianne Vos, will be leading Jumbo-Visma and there’s every chance she too could be leading the race before the queen stage to Norefjell – just like she was at the Tour de France Femmes ahead of the mountains. Still, she’d be looking for a solid buffer in advance of the crucial climb to hold off the inevitable offensive from the climbing specialists in the penultimate stage. Perhaps a more predictable outcome is that she'll be well-placed to add to her already considerable stage victory tally of eight.
BikeExchange-Jayco will be giving Georgia Williams the opportunity to lead the GC charge, with the New Zealander fresh from a Commonwealth Games time trial bronze medal. They'll also be supporting Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour winner Alexandra Manly for the sprints, though they've got options on that front with Ruby Roseman-Gannon on the squad as well.
Canyon-SRAM’s Neve Bradbury is returning to stage-racing for the first time since her Giro d'Italia Donne debut, where she netted second in the youth classification and tenth overall. There will also be another young Australian to keep a keen eye on, with Sarah Gigante (Movistar) continuing her return from a concussion, which started with the Postnord Vårgårda team time trial earlier this week.
The 21-year-old hasn’t had a lot of opportunities yet to take on stage races in Europe, so will be sure to relish this one to test her growing form after a solid training block. It’ll also be a last chance for Gigante, and of other riders too, to deliver a performance that could snare or bolster a spot in the national team at the Road World Championships in Wollongong. The Australian eligible performance window closes the day the Tour of Scandinavia concludes.
The opening stage in Copenhagen on Tuesday August 9 will mark the first time that Denmark has hosted a Women’s World Tour race with the 145-kilometre day starting at the famous square Kongens Nytorv in the Danish capital and ending in Helsingør with three local laps.
After that, the race transfers to the Swedish coast for stage 2, with the peloton working its way through seaside holiday destinations as they cross the 153.4km from Orust to Strömstad.
By stage 3, the race will be in more familiar territory, travelling through landscapes often visited by the Ladies Tour of Norway with a 118.8km route starting by the canal in Moss. It is inland for the first QOM at 24km, with another at 86km, and then there is an intermediate sprint at Karlshus before the road loops back in and out from the coast before heading to Sarpsborg for three laps before the final sprint unfolds in front of the town hall.
It’s hilly terrain for stage 4 from Askim to Mysen as the course moves inland to the Norwegian region of Indre Østfold Kommune, described as the “Norwegian part of Tuscany”. There are QOM points up for grabs at Momarken, 20km in, and Vammasletten at 80km, with sprints at 47km and 101km before the race ends after 119.2km with a slight uphill to the finish in Mysen.
On Saturday August 13, it is time for the 127.4km Queen stage. The course from Vikersund to Norefjell, a crucial day for the GC contenders, starts with two laps of a circuit before heading off past lake Soneren and then onto lake Krøderen. After the peloton works away from the shores they head to a gruelling final 10km climb. In 2021, this was where Van Vleuten secured the Ladies Tour of Norway stage victory and a lead on the overall she carried through to the end.
The final 153.4km day starts in Lillestrøm, just north of Oslo heading up to the first QOM at 7.5km, to a sprint at 40km and another at Aremark at 107.2km before the route heads down to the finishing circuit, at Halden. The technical laps, which also deliver more sprint points at 144km, lead to the final line at the inner harbour, where the crowds will watch the first ever winner of the Tour of Scandinavia cross the line.
How to watch
The Tour of Scandinavia is one race where you will be able to watch much of the action unfold in real time. The race has come on board with at least two hours of coverage per stage, with times for live transmission from 16:00 to 18:15 CET for the first four stages and 11:00 to 14:30 CET for stage five and 12:00 to !4:15 for the final day to Halden.
Internationally ,the coverage will be going out through Discovery, with Eurosport 1 as the main channel and with every stage but the last going out live on that platform, with the finale receiving delayed coverage. The race, however, will be live every day on GCN+ and Discovery+. Coverage can also be found on Norway TV2, 6 Eren in Denmark and Kanal 9 in Sweden while Claro Sports in South America and Super Sports in Africa will air the show delayed. Highlights will also be available on the UCI YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.
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