Preview: what to know about the Aviva Women’s Tour as peloton heads to Britain

by Jeanine Laudy


After a stint in the United States and China, the UCI Women’s WorldTour returns to Europe for the Aviva Women’s Tour, a five-day stage race in Great Britain.

Sixteen teams take to the start in the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour, among them two British UCI teams and the GB national team. It’s the only UCIWWT stage race in Great Britain, so this gives these teams a rare chance to compete in their home country for a couple of days. See the full list of participating teams here.

Race schedule

The 2016 Women’s Tour runs from June 15 to 20. The race kicks off with a 130+ kilometer stage on Wednesday 15th.

Stages 1 and 2 both start at 10:00 a.m. GMT (8:00 p.m. AEST), with the riders taking off between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m. GMT (8:30 – 8:45 p.m. AEST) in stages 3 to 5.

Broadcast schedule

The women’s race won’t have a live broadcast, but iTV4 shows an hour long recap each night. Stage 1 and 2 are shown at 9:00 p.m. GMT (5:00 a.m. AEST the following day), with repeats the next day at 12:35 p.m. GMT (8:35 p.m. AEST).

The broadcasts of stage 3 to 5 are on at 10:30 p.m. GMT (6:30 a.m. AEST the following day), with reruns the next day at 12:00 p.m. GMT (8:00 p.m. AEST), 8:55 a.m. GMT (4:55 p.m. AEST) and 12:40 p.m. GMT (8:40 p.m. AEST) for stages 3 to 5 respectively.

Unfortunately this is only available for British viewers. Others have to make do with daily highlights videos which we will publish here on Ella.

For live updates during the race, check out the official Twitter account @thewomenstour or use the hashtags #AvivaWT2016 and #UCIWWT.

The Stages

All five stages in this year’s Women’s Tour are road races, so the time trial bikes can be left at home. The length of the stages varies from 112 to 140 kilometers (69.6 to 87 miles), with hilly routes in each stage.

WT 2016 stages

Stage 1 – 132 kilometer road race

The coastal city of Southwold is in county Suffolk, which has hosted the final Women’s Tour stage in 2014 and the opening stage last year. After departing Southwold, the route moves inland and to the north to finish in the city of Norwich, after two intermediate sprints and two climbs.

Stage 2 – 140 kilometer road race

After a not too difficult course profile in stage 1, the second stage is the longest in this Women’s Tour edition and also has a considerable number of climbing meters. Time differences in the GC could be made here.

During the stage, the peloton passes Meriden, home to the National Cycling Memorial. The stage finishes in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of the famous William Shakespeare.

Stage 3 – 112 kilometer road race

With over 2,000 altitude meters in only 112 kilometers of racing, stage 3 of this year’s Women’s Tour can be considered the Queen’s stage. It runs through the beautiful Peak District National Park, which provides the stage with some beautiful scenery.

Stage 4 – 119.6 kilometer road race

The weight of stage 4 is in the second part of the stage, with the climbs starting after around 50 kilometers and the peloton tackling most of the 1,500 altitude meters in the final 30 kilometers.

Stoke-on-Trent, the finish place of this stage, sponsors the best young rider jersey, as it’s Britain’s European City of Sport. This means the city provides a platform to promote increased participation in sports and an active lifestyle, an effort in which hosting a stage of the Women’s Tour fits perfectly.

Stage 5 – 113.2 kilometer road race 

Northamptonshire hosted the very first stage of the inaugural Women’s Tour back in 2014. Having hosted a stage in the 2015 edition as well, this British county is the only one to have hosted a full stage in all of the three Women’s Tour editions. It’s therefore very suiting that the 2016 race should finish in the Northamptonshire city of Kettering, where the third Women’s Tour winner will be crowned.

The peloton isn’t being given an easy finish though, with a sprint and two climbs in the final stage. The battle for the Strava QOM jersey – or maybe even the leader’s jersey – could continue until the final kilometers of this race!

The Jerseys

Women's Tour jerseysOf course the yellow Women’s WorldTour jersey is what the riders are battling for, but the Women’s Tour has four jerseys on offer as well.

The yellow leader’s jersey, wearing the name of the race’s title sponsor Aviva, will obviously be the most contested jersey in the race. With 10, 6 and 4 bonus seconds awarded at the line, plus another 3, 2 and 1 at the intermediate sprints, those seconds could be decisive to determine the overall winner, which was the case in the two previous editions.

The GC winner also took the points jersey in the last two years; Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) in 2014 and Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) last year. Maybe this year it will be a different sprinter who takes this colourful jersey home.

A traditional polka dot jersey was designed for the QOM classification, with the polka dots in the orange colour of the jersey’s title sponsor Strava. Sharon Laws (United Healthcare) and Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) are previous winners of this jersey. With both of them absent in this year’s edition, there’s a new rider that can win this beautiful jersey.

Laws’ teammate Hannah Barnes was best British and best young rider last year and will most definitely be going after those jerseys again this year, now riding for the Canyon-SRAM team.

If you want to feel like Brennauer or Hoskins on the bike, the leader’s jersey and Strava QOM jersey are available to purchase at Provision Clothing.

The Contenders

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Having had to abanbon after winning stage 1 in the 2015 Women’s Tour, Lizzie Armitstead is keen to set the record straight this year, especially since this race in her home country is now part of the Women’s WorldTour. With her win in the UCI1.1 Boels Rental Hills Classic at the end of May, she has shown to be in great form again after a little time off.

Previous Women’s Tour winners Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) both return to Britain and have a strong team to support them. Canyon-SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell, Alena Amialiusik and Elena Cecchini will look after Brennauer, while Lucinda Brand and Roxane Knetemann support Vos at Rabo-Liv.

Returning stage winners are Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-High5), Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans). Although Majerus was put forward as race leader after Armitstead crashed out of the race last year and will be back working for the team in the 2016 edition, all of these women are considered favourites.

Others to watch are Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv), who is always a favourite when she starts in a race, and Leah Kirchmann (Team Liv-Plantur), having performed really well in the UCIWWT Tour of Chongming Island and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau road race.

Finally, Emma Pooley will be back in action as she returned from retirement this year, aiming to ride the Rio time trial. Pooley made her comeback in the Tour de Yorkshire and she’s looking to further improve her form in the Women’s Tour.

See the provisional startlist here.

The Standings

The Aviva Women’s Tour makes up round 10 of the Women’s WorldTour. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) took over the lead in the Women’s WorldTour after the Amgen women’s Tour of California and increased her lead after winning the Philly Cycling Classic.

Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) increases her lead in the Women's WorldTour after winning the 2016 Philly Cycling Classic.
Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) increases her lead in the Women’s WorldTour after winning the 2016 Philly Cycling Classic.

Guarnier won’t start in the Women’s Tour, but returns to the Women’s WorldTour in the Giro Rosa, the Italian race in which she held the leader’s jersey for six days in 2015.

Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) will both be looking to improve their position in the Women’s WorldTour young rider classification. The battle is on for the young rider jersey in the Women’s Tour!

Women’s WorldTour standings ahead of the Women’s Tour

General classification
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 624 points
2. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) – 398 points
3. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 368 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

Team ranking
1. Boels-Dolmans – 1754 points
2. Wiggle-High5 – 1096 points
3. Rabo-Liv – 860 points

The Ella coverage

The women of the United Healthcare team will be doing an Ella Instagram takeover and we will have highlights videos of each stage. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and check out our website to follow along!

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