Dwingeloo - Netherlands  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Majerus Christine (Luxembourg / Boels Dolmans)  pictured during  the Drentse Acht van Westerveld - a women race in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands  - photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2018

Race Preview: Boels Ladies Tour

The final stage race of the UCI World Tour calendar is upon us as the peloton travels to the Netherlands for the Boels Ladies Tour.

WT Preview

With both Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) absent from Plouay there was no change at the top of the World Tour ranking. Yet with 3 rounds to go only 100 points separate the Dutch pair so the battle for the purple jersey is still far from over. With Vos opting to forego the Boels Ladies Tour in favour of altitude training it is likely that we will see van Vleuten reclaim pole position by the end of the week.

In the young rider standings Marta Cavalli (Valcar Cylance) capitalised on Lorena Wiebes’ (Parkhotel Valkenburg) absence in Plouay to take back the blue jersey. With both riders racing this week it will again be another closely fought battle.

Boels Ladies Tour

The six-day race in the Netherlands held from the 3rd to the 8th of September is one for the ‘classicists’. The flat roads, technical courses and usually windy conditions all lend to create dynamic and exciting racing.

To triumph in this race riders must possess the ‘holy trinity’; the combination of pure power, bunch craft and race nous. It’s of no surprise therefore that we often see the Dutch riders thrive in this race and over the past decade 8 out of the 10 winners have come from the host nation. Last year Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) won the overall title for the second consecutive year and will be gunning to make it three in a row in 2019.

This year the individual time trial has been replaced with another road stage, making it an even more open race. With the World Championships just 3 weeks away it is the final test of the legs before Yorkshire so no doubt each stage will be raced hard and aggressively.

The Stages

The tour kicks off with a short and fast prologue in the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park. The 3.8km race against the clock is pan flat, technical and with a few long straights it will be one for the power houses. Van Vleuten will be looking to take hold of the orange leader’s jersey with a prologue win for a 3rd consecutive year, but will have to fend off challenges from the likes of current European time trial champion – Ellen van Dijk (Trek Segafredo) – and Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) to name a few.

The first two stages are pan flat and extremely likely to come down to a bunch sprint. In form Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg), Bastianelli (Team Virtu), Paternoster (Trek Segafredo), Wild (Team WNT) are just some of the big name sprinters who will be up there vying for a stage and the potentially crucial finish line time bonuses.

Stage three starts and finishes in Nijverdal and is earmarked as the queen stage. The peloton will face 5 laps of 32km with the ascents of the Motieweg and Holterberg on each lap. With a total of 1055m in altitude gain and technical roads this stage could be the most selective of the race. Expect to see aggressive racing with the GC contenders such as van Vleuten, van der Breggen and breakaway specialists such as Majerus (Boels Dolmans), van Dijk and Brand (Team Sunweb) at the fore.

The final two stages of the tour are in the province of Gelderland and are relatively flat but feature some kickers that could thin out a tired bunch as well as provide opportunities for breaks. Both stages look unpredictable, however with a closely fought GC battle on the cards we can forecast aggressive and exciting racing all weekend.

Contenders

The Dutch riders will have had this race earmarked on their calendar for a long time and many have spoken publicly about their ambitions for the week ahead. The big favourite heading into the race is the current World TT Champion Annemiek van Vleuten who has worn the orange leader’s jersey from start to finish in the last two editions of the race (12 consecutive stages). Van Vleuten returns to racing after a month of altitude training and will no doubt be looking to stamp her authority in the prologue and be hoping that her bid for the 13th consecutive orange jersey doesn’t prove to be unlucky.

Anna van der Breggen is another rider said to be targeting this tour and will want to take the win on home soil. The current road World Champion is clearly in great form; her powerful move in the final 10km of Plouay which saw her hold off a chasing bunch and win solo demonstrates her undespituted class and strength. No doubt she’ll pose a big threat this week.

The young Dutch talent Lorena Wiebes will be another rider to watch closely and she’ll be looking to use her sprinting prowess to power to stage victories. The current Dutch national champion has had an incredible season with world tour wins in China, London and most recently picking up a stage win in Norway. She’ll be hoping to add Holland to that impressive tally.

Another Dutch sprinter who will look to impose herself in this race is WNT Rotor’s Kirsten Wild. With trusted leadout rider and former winner of the race, Lisa Brennauer, also taking to the start, she will fancy her chances of being delivered in prime position to out-power her rivals over a long sprint.

Looking to upset the Dutchwomen will be Marta Bastianelli. The current Italian national champion had a great Classics campaign this year and took victory at the Tour of Flanders back in April. She thrives on Dutch roads so expect to see her challenging for the overall and stage wins.

After a tumultuous season with crashes and injury, Belgian’s Jolien d’Hoore (Boels Dolmans) makes her return to racing and will also be another rider to watch in the sprints. D’Hoore will be hoping the effects of her collarbone break are long gone and that she can finish what has been a difficult year on a high.

Other riders to look out for include the young Italians Paternoster (Trek Segafredo), Balsamo (Valcar Cylance) and Cavalli (Valcar Cylance) as well as breakaway specialists such as van Dijk, Ensing (WNT Rotor).

Just three weeks out from the World Championships the best riders are finalising their preparations for Yorkshire so we can expect to see some great racing. The best all round riders in the world are coming into their best shape and will be looking to make a statement in the Netherlands so it looks set to be an exciting tour.

Summary

 

When:

3rd – 8th September

 

Where:

Netherlands

 

What:

4 days of unpredictable, exciting racing over rolling terrain: Prologue, Sittard – Geleen, 3.8km
Stage 1, Stramproy – Weert, 123.0km
Stage 2, Gennep – Gennep, 113.7km

Stage 3, Nijverdal – Nijverdal, 156.8km (Queen stage) Stage 4, Arnhem – Nijmegen, 135.6km
Stage 5, Nijmegen – Arnhem, 158.8km

 

Who to watch for GC:

Annemiek van Vleuten *****

Anna van der Breggen ****

Marta Bastianelli ***

 

Wild Card:

Alice Barnes

 

TV Coverage:

The final 90 mins of each stage will be broadcasted live on regional tv (Channels L1, Omroep Gelderland, RTV Oost and Podium TV)

Prologue – 14:45 CET

Stage 1 – 14:45 CET

Stage 2 – 14:15 CET

Stage 3 – 14:45 CET

Stage 4 – 13:00 CET

Stage 5 – 13:00 CET

The final two stages will be live on Eurosport 1 and there will also be a highlights show for the prologue and stages 1-3.

4th September: 14:30 – 15:00 CET Prologue highlights

5th September: 14:30 – 15:00 CET Stage 1 highlights

6th September: 14:30 – 15:00 CET Stage 2 highlights

7th September: 11:30 – 12:00 CET Stage 3 highlighs; 13:30 – 14:30 CET Stage 4 live

8th September: 13:30 – 14:30 CET Stage 5 live



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