With the Asian portion of the 2016 Women’s WorldTour done and dusted, the peloton now travels to the United States for round eight of the Women’s WorldTour.
The 2016 Women’s Tour of California, or ‘Amgen Breakaway From Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM 2016‘ as the race is officially called, starts this Thursday. Here’s what you should know about what will very likely be America’s most hotly contested multi-day women’s event.
You can follow it live
NBCSN will show a recap on Thursday, May 26, from 10.30 p.m.-12.00 a.m./ PDT (Friday, May 27, 3.30 – 5.00 p.m. AEST). And a video recap will also be shown on the Tour of California website daily.
We’re expecting the UCI to also provide highlights videos again after each stage, just like they did in the Tour of Chongming Island. Alternatively, check out Twitter with the hashtag #UCIWWT or at the official Twitter account @AmgenTOC.
Starting as a criterium only, the women’s race has seen steady growth over the years
A women’s ‘Tour’ of California has been around since 2008, but it was only last year that the race was both awarded a UCI ranking and consisted of a stage race for the first time.
The women’s race started out as a criterium in 2008, which was organised again in 2009, as part of the National Road Calendar. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, there was a time trial for the women alongside the men’s stage race.
No women’s Tour of California was held in 2014, but the race was back in 2015 with a UCI2.1 ranking and consisting of three stages, accompanied by a separate Tour of California individual time trial (ranked UCI1.1).
There are four stages in four cities for a total of 318.3 kilometres
Part of the new Women’s WorldTour, the 2016 edition of the women’s Tour of California has four stages, running from Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22.
The women start off with a 117 kilometre road race, which is a loop around Lake Tahoe in clockwise direction, followed by a 20.3 kilometre team time trial in stage 2.
Another road race, 111 kilometres this time, running from Santa Rosa to the Pacific Ocean and back, makes up stage 3, with the fourth and final stage a criterium consisting of twenty 3.5-kilometre-laps, making the stage 70 kilometres in total.
The women’s individual time trial that was part of the Tour of California races in the past is no longer on the calendar.
Evelyn Stevens and Marianne Vos to lead their teams in California
Being part of the Women’s WorldTour, this year’s Tour of California will see many of the top UCI teams making the trek across the pond with teams like Boels-Dolmans, Rabo-Liv and Canyon-SRAM headlining the event.
It was Canyon-SRAM’s Trixi Worrack who won the inaugural Tour of California stage race last year, but since she is still recovering after her crash in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, she won’t be able to defend her 2015 win.
The winner of the 2015 Tour of California time trial, Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans), does head to California for the race, headlining for Boels-Dolmans, alongside her compatriot and US road champion Megan Guarnier.
That other orange Dutch squad, Rabo-Liv, has Marianne Vos leading the team in California. It will be Rabo-Liv’s first appearance at this race.
Both Stevens and Vos count as serious contenders for the GC win, with strong back-ups within the team, like Guarnier and Chantal Blaak for Boels-Dolmans and Lucinda Brand for Rabo-Liv.
Among the returning and debuting teams, there are other possible GC contenders as well
There are 18 teams lining up at the start, nine of which are among the top 15 UCI teams in the world. As such, this edition of the women’s Tour of California will be the most fiercely contested one yet.
While Boels-Dolman, Rabo-Liv and Canyon-SRAM will surely be among the top contestants, they are certainly not the only ones.
Reigning Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong has returned from retirement and will ride in California for Team Twenty16. She has been having a stellar year thus far, winning Redlands and finishing second in the Tour of the Gila GC earlier this month. She’s in form and will definitely be one to watch.
There are other GC contenders though, with riders that have performed well last year. For example stage 1 winner Katie Hall (United Healthcare), GC podium finisher Lauren Komanski (Team Tibco-SVB), winner of the mountain jersey Khristi Lay (Rally Cycling), best young rider Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and her current teammate Alena Amialiusik, who finished fifth in last year’s GC.
A number of teams have not been part of this race before, but will line up riders that could do well on the course, so watch out for Amy Pieters and Emma Johansson (both Wiggle-Honda), Kirsten Wild (Team Hitec) and Valentina Scandolara (Cylance Pro Cycling).
Check out the full provisional rider startlist, here.
Seven rounds into the UCIWWT, Boels-Dolmans still dominates the GC
There are only two UCIWWT events in May, both of which are stage races. There was the Tour of Chongming Island from May 6th to 8th, and now the peloton heads to California for the second stage race of the month.
Here’s a quick reminder of the current standing in the Women’s WorldTour:
Women’s WorldTour standings after the Tour of Chongming Island
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 368 points
2. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) – 343 points
3. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 325 points
Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 24 points
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 12 points
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 10 points
1. Boels-Dolmans – 1262 points
2. Wiggle-High5 – 845 points
4. Rabo-Liv – 733 points
The men started their AMGEN Tour of California last Sunday, read all about their race over at CyclingTips.