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Race Preview: Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda WestSweden

The peloton heads to Sweden for a team time trial and challenging road race as they compete in rounds 17 and 18 of the Womens World Tour series this weekend.

World Tour Preview:

After her first one day World Tour victory on the Mall in London, Lorena Wiebes, (Parkhotel Valkenburg) lies just 4 points behind Marta Cavalli (Valcar Cylance) in the best young rider competition. The young Dutch talent has accumulated an impressive run of results recently and if this form continues, we are likely to see the blue jersey exchange hands by the end of the Scandanavian block.

Meanwhile, in the overall standings, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) still has a firm grip on the purple jersey and a solid 251 point lead over Canyon Sram’s Katazyna Niewiadoma. Unfortunately Van Vleuten will be missing from the action this weekend as the Dutch woman has headed to the thin air of Livigno for a pre-Words altitude training block. In her absence Marianne Vos (CCC Liv), lying in 3rd, will therefore by looking to make up some more ground in the standings. Vos has a great track record in Vårgårda having won the road race 3 times and with her strong performances so far this summer we can expect the defending champion to try and make it 4 Swedish wins and possibly leap-frog Niewiadoma in the World Tour rankings.

Time Trial Preview:

The 35.6km long team time trial kicks of the 2 days of racing in Vårgårda and all eyes will be on Boels Dolmans who will look to clinch their 4th consecutive victory. Their stronghold on this event however will face a fierce challenge in the form of Canyon Sram Racing – current World Champions and winners of this years Giro TTT in Castellania.

The out and back course from Vårgårda to Herrljunga sees teams cover rolling terrain and with several sweeping turns and a rather technical final 3km the route will no doubt favour the well- drilled squads. The TTT is a challenging art to perfect and the result sheet is likely to reflect the amount of time teams have spent investing in the discipline. We can expect to see the usual protagonists vying for the top spots such as the likes of Team Sunweb, CCC Liv, Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott.

Road Race preview:

The 15th edition of the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda WestSweden RR takes place the following day and is likely to be an attritional battle. Although a summer race, this year’s Vårgårda RR has a somewhat spring ‘classic-esque’ feel and with the race touted to be the hardest edition to date there is little doubt a worthy winner will be crowned in Sweden.

The redesigned course sees the riders head out onto a lumpy long lap of 66.7km which includes 5 gravel sectors ranging in length from 2.7km to 6.3km. Then it’s on to three shorter 11km laps around Hägrunga. Although riders might breathe a sigh of relief that this portion of the race is gravel free there is in fact no respite; its narrow, technical and with a 1km ascent of Hägrungabakken per lap it will undoubtedly thin out the peloton. Finally, the riders tackle three longer 15.3km finishing laps which again features the Hägrungabakken climb as well as the 3.1km Landa gravel sector. With just 2.9km to the finish after the last gravel stone is crunched, this edition will not only promote aggressive racing but it may very well reward the opportunistic.

The revamped course looks set to provide a lot of excitement and will favour riders who are not only strong but also skilled. Pure strength, power climbing, bunch positioning as well as smart tactics will all be required to conquer this challenging edition of Vårgårda.

In previous years we have seen the winner emerge from a reduced bunch sprint of around 50 riders, however 2019 looks set to be far more selective. The course feels like a Scandanavian Strade Bianchi, so expect to riders who enjoy the white roads of Tuscany at the head of affairs.

The Dutch have a love affair with this race having take 7 victories over the past decade. Defending champion Marianne Vos will revel on such a demanding course and poses one of the biggest Dutch threats. Additionally, Boels Dolmans will also be confident with their chances of continuing the country’s dominance as the team have several cards to play. With current and former World Champions – Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak – leading the squad as well as newly crowned European champion, Amy Pieters, debuting her stars, the team will look to capitalise on a hard and aggressive race.

Continuing with Dutch challengers we can’t rule out Trek-Segafredo’s Ellen Van Dijk, who thrives in races of attrition. The 32 year old who won her 4th consecutive European TT title last weekend comes to Sweden in good form and with her combination of experience and strength she will be a rider to watch. Additionally, fellow Dutch compatriot, Kirsten Wild may look to make amends following her disqualification from the Ride London Classique. The sprinter riding for WNT Rotor will be looking to upgrade her second place from last year and having won two world tour classics in March she certainly has the nous and power to take a victory here too.

Another rider who had a great Classics campaign and thrived on the spring Belgian roads is Marta Bastianelli. Winner of the Tour of Flanders this year, the Italian will hope her mid-season knee injury is well behind her and she can return to the top spot and take the win for her Danish sponsored team Virtu Pro Cycling.

With a superb course, a wealth of talent and many former winners, Vårgårda will be an exciting, aggressive race where only the strongest and savviest will triumph.

Summary:

                        Team Time Trial                                             Road Race

When:

17th August, 3.00pm CET

18th August, 11.00am CET

Where:

West Sweden

West Sweden

What:

36km TTT

145.3km RR with 8 gravel sectors

Who to watch:

Canyon Sram ***** Boels Dolmans **** Team Sunweb ***

Marianne Vos *****
Anna van der Breggen **** Marta Bastianelli ***

TV Coverage

Eurosport 1 (Scandanavia) Eurosport 2 (Europe)
Eurosport Player (Asia)www.flobikes.com (USA & Canada)



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