The Women’s Tour is the most significant and longest-running international cycling race for women in Great Britain. The race consists of six challenging stages throughout England and Wales. The riders will cover 735 kilometres in total.
Anna Henderson, who won the mountain classification during RideLondon Classique last week, makes her debut in the Women’s Tour.
Henderson: “This is the second race in ten days in my home country. This spring, I stayed in the Netherlands and Belgium for the most part; now I will be in familiar surroundings for a few weeks. It is very special to race here. I know my family and friends are around to support me. The British crowd is also very vocal. They cheer very loudly for ‘their’ riders. It’ll give me energy.”
The first stage starts on Whitsun in Colchester, in the east of England. The finish line is 142 kilometres away, on Angel Hill in Burt St Edmunds. Marianne Vos won the final here in 2014. The race’s fifth stage also ends on a slope: the Black Mountain in Wales. This mountain has a 5.3% average gradient, contains two nasty hairpins and is no less than 7200 metres long. It also includes a category one climb and, according to the organisation, the most brutal finish in the Women’s Tour’s history. Therefore the riders will probably not be able to enjoy the beautiful Tywi valley views.
Each stage has its share of climbs, some steeper than others. The hills in stages one, two and six are relatively easy and are classified as category 3. The final stage will start in Chipping Norton on Saturday 11 June and finish in the Oxford city centre. Both places are new to the Women’s Tour route.
“In the Netherlands and Belgium the roads are generally straight and quite wide”, says Henderson. “Here, the course is more winding and narrow. That suits me. The hills don’t scare me either, although I expect more from the second and sixth stages – which have fewer steep climbs – than from the first and fifth. We’ll see how it goes. In any case, I feel fit and I am looking forward to it. That’s a good basis for a nice race.”
Henderson will be joined by Coryn Labecki, Riejanne Markus, Teuntje Beekhuis, Karlijn Swinkels and Romy Kasper. Race coach Carmen Small advises her riders to work together well to use the team’s strengths. “We will again try to attack and take every opportunity. Anna showed that she was in good shape last week, so I am confident she will be strong. In stages that end in a sprint, we hope to score with Coryn.”