Preview: Circuit after circuit at the Simac Ladies Tour

The women's WorldTour heads to the Netherlands for six days of racing, starting Tuesday.

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The Women’s WorldTour returns to the streets on Tuesday with the long-running Simac Ladies Tour. The six-day event kicks off in Lelystad and concludes Sunday in Arnhem after five road stages and one individual time trial.

All of the road stages start and finish in the same general location and include some kind of circuit, and all but stages 4 and 6 are very flat. Crosswinds, weather, and end-of-the-year tactics will make the week interesting as many riders prepare for the upcoming World Championships in Australia.

Stage 1: Lelystad (141.2 km) | Tuesday, August 30

Starting and finishing in Lelystad, the first stage consists of a 60.4 km circuit that the peloton will complete two and a half times before finishing on the water. The stage is flat as can be and definitely favours the sprinters.

Stage 2: Ede (117.8 km) | Wednesday, August 31

Stage 2 is not as flat as the first stage but is still very very flat. Starting and finishing in Ede, the stage is three laps of a 40 km circuit, for a total of 117.8 km. The finish in town is technical and requires expert positioning.

Stage 3: Gennep (139.1 km) | Thursday, September 1

Another day of circuit racing is on tap for stage 3, except this time the course is broken into two different loops. The peloton will race one 62.7 km big loop twice and finish in Gennep on a 16.3 km circuit.

Stage 4: Landgraaf (135.2 km) | Friday, September 2

The fourth stage finally sees some elevation gain. After starting in Landraaf the peloton will race three laps of a 41.6 km circuit that includes five climbs. The first is the 1.2 km long Sibbergrubbe, followed by the iconic Cauberg. With a 9.2% average gradient the Cauberg will be a significant part of the stage.

Then there is a series of three climbs; the Gulperberg, the Botterweck, and the Tintelerberg. The first is 700 meters long and only 6.2% average, the next is the same length but a little steeper, and the final climb is 1.5 km long but only 5.1% average.

The three laps of the five climbs will make for a hard day for the peloton. The whole stage will be full gas, even with no long climbs, the course is constantly testing the legs. It will likely be a small group or a solo rider coming to the line. Overall it will be a decisive day for the general classification.

Stage 5 ITT: Windraak (17.8 km) | Saturday, September 3

The general classification could be won during the stage 5 individual time trial. At 17.8 km it’s not a long one, but it is technical and flat, so it favours the specialists, those who spend a lot of time on their TT bikes.

Stage 6: Arnhem (150.3 km) | Sunday, September 4

For the final stage it’s back to the circuits. This time seven laps of a 14 km course with an additional five laps of an 8 km course to end the race. The longer circuit is basically one climb and descent, so it will definitely see some splits in the peloton.

The final circuit around Arnhem is also not flat. With this course, the general classification will come down to the final stage of the race.

The top contenders

With the series of flat stages, a time trial, and two “classics” style stages the leader’s jersey will surely change hands multiple times throughout the race. For riders to watch we are looking at the sprinters who will contend the first three stages, the time trialists who will come out swinging on stage 5, and the punchier riders who will be eyeing the fourth and final stages.

The number one favourite for the first three stages, and potentially the overall depending on how the week goes, is the newly crowned European champion Lorena Wiebes. Wiebes has been nearly unstoppable in sprints in 2022, racking up stage wins at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the Women’s Tour, Ride London, and multiple one-day classics. Team DSM knows they have a few stage wins in the bag if they ride for the Dutchwoman, and judging by their roster that is their plan.

Trek-Segafredo is not bringing the world champ, Elisa Balsamo, to contend with Wiebes in the sprints, but rather is eyeing the overall victory with Ellen van Dijk. Van Dijk has finished third overall five times and second overall twice but has only won the race once, in 2013. It will be her last chance to race a time trial in the world champion stripes as well, so she will make stage 5 count.

The American team is also starting with Amalie Dideriksen and Chloe Hosking for the sprint stages.

Defending winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak returns with SD Worx alongside an interesting lineup. The team’s young sprinter Lonneke Uneken will have some chances to take a stage, but other than that SD Worx has left most of their top talent at home.

Clara Copponi is returning to the peloton for FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope after a lengthy time away. The French sprinter had a strong Women’s Tour where she won the first stage and finished second in the final sprint. Alongside her is Emilia Fahlin who just rode well at the Tour of Scandinavia. Like SD Worx, the French team will start without all of their regular leaders handing over the chance to win to the rest of the team.

Canyon-SRAM has strong stage contenders in Alice Barnes, Shari Bossuyt, and Soraya Paladin. Plus, they have Lisa Klein for the time trial.

Marianne Vos will not ride for Jumbo-Visma, instead, the Dutch team will start with Coryn Labecki, Anna Henderson, and Riejanne Markus. Markus is one to watch for the overall. The Dutch national champion won the nationals on hilly terrain and recently finished third behind Marlen Reusser and Van Dijk in the European ITT.

Overall the startlist is lacking a lot of big names, so the race holds a lot of potential for domestiques and young riders, those who have patiently ridden for their teams all year.

How to watch

All six stages are available live on GCN+ and Eurosport. The first three stages start at 16:00 local time, stage 4 is a bit earlier at 14:40, and coverage for the final two stages kicks off at 13:00.

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