August in Scandinavia: The women’s peloton travels to Eurochamps, Vårgårda and Tour of Norway

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As we are inching closer to the 2017 UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, in September, the women’s peloton is getting plenty of opportunities to familiarise themselves with Scandinavian roads this Month. The first event of the month of racing are the European Championships in Denmark, which are then followed by Women’s WorldTour races in Sweden and Norway.

Additionally, the professional criteriums that are held in the weeks after the Tour de France are in full swing, and it’s not just about the men’s races anymore. Organisers are trying to attract big named female riders too, so you’ll find a great number of professional riders travelling to the Netherlands for some post-Tour crit racing. 

The month finishes with GP de Plouay, a Women’s WorldTour race in Bretagne, France.

Here’s an overview of the top women’s races for August. All race information, start lists, standings and TV coverage information will be updated as they become available, so make sure you come back here before every race! 

Women’s WorldTour standings after GP Plouay

General classification
1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) – 859
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling) – 798
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) – 763
4. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) – 703
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 622

Young rider classification
1. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) – 46
2. Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling) – 16
3. Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) – 14
4. Lisa Klein (Cervélo-Bigla) – 12
5. Anna Christian (Drops Cycling) – 10

Team classification
1. Boels-Dolmans – 2948
2. Team Sunweb – 1860
3. Wiggle-High5 – 1608
4. Orica-Scott – 1587
5. WM3 Pro Cycling – 1338

European championships

Wednesday, August 2 – Sunday, August 6 – Championships – Denmark

Anna van der Breggen celebrates as she wins the 2016 European road race championships.

With the introduction of an elite category and the official acknowledgement of the jersey by the UCI, the European championships were given a boost in prestige in 2016. And having top stars like Peter Sagan, Ellen van Dijk and Anna van der Breggen compete didn’t hurt, either.

And sure enough, just one month after her gold medal ride in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic road race, Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) again bested an elite group of riders to add the European title to her glowing palmares in 2016.

Van der Breggen has been wearing the distinctly designed jersey all season and will be keen to defend her title on August 5. So much so, that she even decided to skip the Women’s WorldTour events La Course by le Tour de France and RideLondon in order to fully recover after a tough Giro Rosa, and stand the best chances of prolonging her title.

| Related: Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen reigns in new team colours

The 2017 European championships are taking place in Herning, Denmark, with all road races consisting of a number of laps on a mostly flat 20.1-kilometre circuit. The elite race is held on Saturday, August 5, while the junior and U23 women will race their races over distances of 60.3 and 100.5 kilometres respectively, on Friday, August 4.

The individual time trial for the U23 and elite categories consists of a 31.5-kilometre route with start and finish just south of Herning city centre. The junior women will take on an 18.2-kilometre individual time trial. The junior and U23 women will battle for the white and blue starred skinsuit on Wednesday, August 2, while the women’s elite individual time trial takes place on Thursday, August 3.

There was no match for Ellen van Dijk (The Netherlands) when she lined up in Herning to defend her European time trial title. All Dutch riders, Van Dijk along with Lucinda Brand and Anna van der Breggen, took top five at all intermediate time checks. 

They battled with Ann-SophieDuyck (Belgium) and Martina Ritter (Austria) for the medals, but eventually, Van Dijk took almost a minute on silver medal winner Duyck. Van der Breggen completed the podium.

The Dutch team was also very active in the road race, first setting up echelons and, when that didn’t work, attacking one by one. Marianne Vos got into the race-winning move with two dangerous Italian riders, Elisa Longo Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini, and London 2012 bronze medalist Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia).

The race was decided by a two-up sprint between the old rivals Vos and Bronzini, but this time it was Vos besting fellow multi-time world road champion Bronzini. Zabelinskaya took third.

Watch: Eurosport Player will be live streaming each and every race, including the junior races. Some races are broadcasted on TV in Europe as well. Check out the full TV schedule to see where you can watch from your (European) country.
Twitter: @UEC_cycling, #EuroRoad17
Who to watch: Ann-Sophie Duyck (Belgium), Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) for the individual time trial; Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), Longo Borghini, Lotta Lepistö (Finland) and Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) for the road race.

Vårgårda team time trial & road race

Friday, August 11 & Sunday, August 13 – Women’s WorldTour – Sweden

The Vårgårda team time trial is the only stand-alone team time trial event in women’s cycling. And since it takes place about six weeks before the world team time trial championships are held, it’s considered a dress rehearsal for that event.

So when Boels-Dolmans won the Vårgårda team time trial in 2016, it boded well for their chances of finally winning the worlds team time trial later in the year in Qatar – which they did. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their dominance in the discipline, with neither Ellen van Dijk nor Evelyn Stevens still on the team. Their wins in the Healthy Ageing Tour and Giro Rosa team time trials suggests they can, however.

The team time trial is followed two days later by a road race which has a little bit of gravel to mix things up. For the TT as well as the road race, the Vårgårda routes have been similar throughout the years, so riders know exactly what to expect.

Last year, a nine-rider group broke free from the peloton, and Swedish rider Emilia Fahlin (then riding for Alé Cipollini) surprised sprinters Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) and Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) when she beat them to the line, earning her biggest win of her career to date.

The team time trial takes place on August 11, with the first team rolling off the start ramp at 5.30pm CET (12.30pm ET, 3.35am AEDT on August 12). The road race has been expanded to 152 kilometres, as new UCI regulations allow women’s races to be longer. The start will be given at 9.35am CET (4.35am ET, 7.35pm AEDT)  on Sunday August 13.

The Vårgårda team time trial was once again won by Boels-Dolmans, the world TTT champions and unbeaten in the discipline in 2017. Cervélo-Bigla put in a stellar performance to finish second at only 13 seconds. Canyon-SRAM completed the podium at 51 seconds from Boels-Dolmans. 

In the road race, it was the first time since 2011 that the race finished in a (reduced) bunch sprint. There were plenty of attacks and an 11-rider group with strong names seemed to maybe be the race-winning move.

But it wasn’t. They were caught at 25 kilometres to go and there was action from this point onward all the way to the finish line. But a bunch sprint would determine the winner of the Women’s WorldTour race, and it was Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) who outsprinted European road champion Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling) – wearing her European championship jersey for the first time – and Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb).

For photos and an extended report on the race, visit our 2017 Vårgårda road race report

Watch: Great news! There is LIVE coverage of the Vårgårda road race throughout the world. Eurosport 2 and the Eurosport Player will broadcast in Europe, and Europa Asia in Asia. Flo Sports is your broadcaster in the United States and Canada, while SBS will broadcast in Australia. Additionally, the race is on at SVT in Sweden. The UCI will also be providing a highlights video of the race.
Twitter: @vargardawwt
Who to watch: For the team time trial, look at the usual suspects Boels-Dolmans, Canyon-SRAM and Team Sunweb. Marianne Vos (WM3), Lotta Lepistö (Cerveélo-Bigla), Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) are among the favourites for the road race – although, after last year, we’re also expecting the unexpected.

Ladies Tour of Norway

Thursday, August 17 – Sunday, August 20 – Women’s WorldTour – Norway

A three-day Ladies Tour of Norway was introduced to the women’s cycling calendar in 2014, which saw Marianne Vos winning the prologue and a stage while her Rabo-Liv teammate Anna van der Breggen won another stage and the overall. A year later, the race went down from UCI2.1 to 2.2 and the prologue was scratched. It was an American affair in 2015, with Megan Guarnier and Shelley Olds each winning a stage, and Guarnier taking the overall win.

In 2016, the race was awarded UCI2.1 status again and a third stage was added. It was back to Rabo-Liv and the Dutchies dominating the race, with Lucinda Brand winning stage two and the GC, and Anouska Koster winning the third stage. This year, the race received an upgrade as it enters the Women’s WorldTour and consists of four stages.

A 3.4-kilometre prologue through the city centre of Halden kicks off the 2017 Ladies Tour of Norway on Thurday, August 17. Stage one is a 105-kilometre road race and runs alongside lakes and rivers, showing Norway at its prettiest. The second stage is slightly longer at 140 kilometres.

The third stage runs through Norway and Sweden and is definitely the toughest of this year’s courses. The 156.6-kilometre stage might shake up GC standings, keeping the race interesting until the very end. Each stage finishes with three laps on a local circuit, which makes it a fun spectacle for the local public.

European ITT champion Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) won the opening prologue with 0.64 seconds on Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling) and took the first leader’s jersey.  

The road races in stages one to three all finished in bunch sprints after action-packed stages, and they were won by Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-High5), Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini) and Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans).   

Bonus seconds eventually determined the overall classification and it was Vos who took the GC win ahead of Guarnier and Van Dijk. Read our race recaps of each stage in Ella CyclingTips’ 2017 Ladies Tour of Norway report.   

Watch: The last one-and-a-half hour of each stage was livestreamed. You can rewatch all livestream videos in our Ladies Tour of Norway report, as well as highlights videos of each stage.
Twitter: @LTour_Of_Norway, #LTON17

GP Plouay

Saturday, August 26 – Women’s WorldTour – France

GP Plouay used to be the season finale of the Women’s World Cup, and the 2015 GP Plouay is still remembered as one of the most thrilling races in women’s cycling of the recent years. After a hard-fought battle, it was Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) who eventually won the race out of a nine-rider group, taking back the World Cup lead and winning the overall Women’s World Cup for the second year in a row.

With the introduction of the Women’s WorldTour last year, the Madrid Challenge in September is now the season finale, but that doesn’t make Plouay any less exciting.

The 2016 edition saw a lead group of 14 riders sprint to the line, but while everyone looked at the tight finish between Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) and Joëlle Numainville (then riding for Cervélo-Bigla), it was actually Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) who beat both of them and took the win.

The 2017 edition of the race is officially called “Grand Prix Plouay Lorient Agglomération,” while the name of the men’s race has been changed to Brétagne Classic. It’s still the same 121-kilometre race though. The peloton will ride a 26.9-kilometre circuit first, and almost immediately after the start, the peloton will arrive at the Côte du Lezot, a 1-kilometre climb with an average gradient of 6%. Halfway through the circuit, riders will tackle a 6-kilometre ascent up to the Chapelle Ste Anne des Bois, which is followed by a fast descent, before the steep climb up the Côte de Ty Marrec.

The climbs will most certainly split the race, but the group – or lone rider – that is at the front when the four laps have been completed, still needs to cover 13.9 kilometres to the finish line.

It was only on the very last climb, within the last 10k of the race, that the race-winning move was made. Deignan and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM) escaped together and were never to be seen by the reduced bunch. 

Deignan easily outsprinted Ferrand-Prevot, to repeat her 2015 win in this race. In the 21-rider group that followed at 10 seconds, Sarah Roy (Orica-Scott) beat last year’s winner Bujak and took the last podium spot. 

Watch: The UCI will also provide a highlights video of the race.
Twitter: @GrandPrixPlouay

Other interesting women’s cycling events this month

2 August – Ridderronde Maastricht, The Netherlands, Crit
3 August – Profwielerronde Oostvoorne, The Netherlands, Crit
5 August – Littleton Twilight Criterium, The United States, Crit
5 August – Erondegemse Pijl, Belgium, UCI1.2
6 August – Profronde Zevenbergen, The Netherlands, Crit
8 August – Gouden Pijl, The Netherlands, Crit
13 August – Profronde Etten-Leur, The Netherlands, Crit
19 August – Rochester Twilight Criterium, The United States, Crit
24-27 August – National championships Brazil, Brazil, Championships
26-27 August – River Gorge Omnium, United States, Crit


Which race are you most looking forward to in August?

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