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RideLondon Classique Race History
The RideLondon Classique came into being after the 2012 Olympics that were held in London. Looking for a legacy event that would ensure cycling remained important after the Games, a men’s and women’s race in London were created. The first race was the year after the Olympics in 2013. Laura Trott (as-was) won the inaugural edition for the Wiggle Honda team. The following year the team retained the title when Giorgia Bronzini won. The now-retired Kirsten Wild is the only rider to win RideLondon Classique more than once. She won in 2016 and 2018, taking Wiggle’s 3rd team victory in the latter edition. She might have won a 3rd too but she was relegated as a result of a dangerous sprint manoeuvre in 2019. That saw young hotshot Lorena Wiebes take the win instead whilst still on the Parkhotel Valkenburg team. It remains a big deal for a non-WWT team to win a WWT race and this is one of the few examples.
The flat parcours around central London sees barely any elevation changes, just technical turns before the inevitable big bunch sprint. There are changes for 2022’s race, however. Surrey County Council chose not to renew the contract to host RideLondon Classique in their local area, so instead a new partner in Essex was found. The race has been extended to a 3-day event and the riders take a slightly different route in central London.
The stages out in Essex will see generally flat stages with the odd kicker. Both stages have a short kick late on but really they should be nothing pro cyclists should worry about. It does mean that the first two stages could suit a sprinter like Marta Bastianelli more than say Lorena Wiebes. For the central London stage, there are no major surprises. For anyone used to riding around London on Zwift, the route won’t finish in the Mall like we’re used to. Instead, it will finish over on Embankment. A big wide flat road with a gentle curve heading to the line.
RideLondon Classique 2022 Contenders
In a race likely to finish in springs, you can’t really look past Lorena Wiebes. She already won here in 2019 but whether she can win enough stages here to win GC is a slightly different matter. Stages 1 and 2 present challenges but Stage 3 in London should be a victory for the Dutch rider. On home roads, the balance may swing to British national champion Pfeiffer Georgi. She will keep the peloton together for Wiebes but if chances open up on the first two days then Georgi might find herself in with a shot.
Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard might be in with a more all-round shout of the GC here. The winner of Le Samyn des Dames doesn’t seem to quite be able to match Lorena Wiebes in a head to head pure sprint. However, the harder the race, the more chance she has. I would be surprised if she won in London but Norsgaard has some good opportunities on Stages 1 and 2.
Marta Bastianelli has shown before that she can win in Britain, taking the first stage of the Women’s Tour into Banbury last season. She’s been having a great 2022, with 7 wins already. Of note though is that none of them has been at Women’s WorldTour level. I think out of almost all of the sprinters, she has the best chance of a GC tilt by doing the most consistent across all 3 stages.
Trek Segafredo has come with the full sprint team. World Champion Elisa Balsamo is going to be the favourite. She’s the only rider we’ve seen beat Lorena Wiebes in a head to head in recent years and has enough to make it over the climbs on Stages 1 and 2 to contest those as well. She will be led out by the likes of Chloe Hosking, Amalie Dideriksen and Letizia Paternoster. All 3 riders could be lead sprinters on another team, with Hosking finishing 2nd at Bloeizone Fryslan Tour, Dideriksen 8th at Vuelta a Burgos and Paternoster a former Gent Wevelgem podium finisher.
We haven’t seen Chiara Consonni on the road since Festival Elsy Jacobs finished at the start of May but she’s been doing well on the track. The Italian won the Madison and Team Pursuit at the Milton World Cup even in Canada. Consonni has taken 1 victory this year, at Dwars door Vlaanderen but also has 4 2nd places. Against this field, a win might be out of reach but the podium certainly isn’t.
Canyon SRAM’s Alice Barnes has been back to some of best sprinting this season. Plenty of top-10s across the board, including the WWT Ronde van Drenthe and Brugge-De Panne. Barnes probably has one of the best chances for British interests at home here. Probably not quite in the same tier as the really top-drawer sprinters of the women’s peloton, Barnes should have no issue finishing in the top-10 in GC.
It’s one of the remarkable runs that turn up sometimes that Clara Copponi has got to the end of May and only ever finished in the top-10 this season. She was super consistent in the early classics, finishing pretty much 4th-5th-6th in each race before a couple of 10th places later on. It was at the Women’s Tour a the tail end of last season where Copponi really shifted a gear and moved up a level. Once again on British roads, the French rider should be a contender for a high GC finish.
If not Alice Barnes, then it’ll be Jumbo-Visma’s Anna Henderson who should finish highest in GC for the British riders. She has taken a win already this year, in the prologue at Festival Elsy Jacobs but you have to go back to Omloop het Nieuwsblad for her other top-10 result. That’s largely due to working for Marianne Vos or other riders but she should get top billing at home here. The former national circuit champion should be well up for the London crit stage. Teammate Coryn Labecki has a couple of top-10s at Women’s WorldTour races this year and is certainly one for sprinting on tough stages. We may see her get the nod on either of the first 2 stages.
With Lotte Kopecky pretty much the only major sprinter to not be taking part here, it will fall to Lonneke Uneken for the sprints. Her best chances will come on the first 2 stages rather than in London. She won a stage of the Bloeizone Fryslan earlier in the season where a number of the really top tier sprinters were missing but was 4th in Brugge-De Panne. Uneken is another whose consistency could score them a decent GC position.
Update: It turns out Lotte Kopecky is racing the RideLondon Classique! She returned to racing at the Vuelta a Burgos and won the first stage. Along with Bastianelli, I’m expecting her to be a stronger contender on GC because she will be a genuine contender on all 3 stages. The slight uphill finish won’t phase a rider that won Strade Bianche.
There are plenty of options for Le Col-Wahoo here.
There’s Maria Martins who sprinted to 5th at Brugge-De Panne and might be in contention for the flat final stage. The team will also have the Duch pair of Marjolein Van ‘t Geloof and Maike Van der Duin as cards to use. Van ‘t Geloof was 5th at Nokere Koerse and 6th at Le Samyn, so you can see her being a contender on Stages 1 and 2. Van der Duin tends to be the team’s favoured option for flat races and we could see her making the top 10 too.
Another sprinter to have wins under their belt in 2022 is Rachele Barbieri of Liv Racing Xstra. She has taken wins at Bloeizone Fryslan and Omloop der Kempen. Barbieri is probably in that 2nd-tier of sprinters, not quite on the same tier as the likes of Wiebes, Norsgaard and Balsamo. 3rd at Scheldeprijs behind Wiebes and Consonni is probably a result she can repeat here.
Susanne Andersen is a rider who could do well on GC too. The Norwegian has taken pretty much all of Uno-X’s best results this season with plenty of top-10s across different terrains. You feel like the British routes would suit her skillset with rolling roads no doubt ending with a slightly reduced sprint finish. She finds herself outpowered by the likes of Wiebes but can still notch up some great results if her team can thin out the peloton.
Maria Giulia Confalonieri has had a good 2022 season so far with plenty of top-10 results. The biggest result was that first Women’s WorldTour podium with 3rd at Gent Wevelgem. She’s another rider who is a bit more of an all-rounder so Stages 1 and 2 will have her best shouts for a strong result. In the pure sprint at the end of Stage 3, it feels like others will outpower her to the line.
AG Insurance-NXTG’s Ally Wollaston has been tough to ignore recently. The kiwi took her first win at GP de Plumelec-Morbihan by beating a pair of FDJ riders in Guazzini and Brown. She’d been knocking on the door repeatedly in the weeks leading up to that win, with multiple podiums at Bretagne Ladies Tour. It will be interesting to see how she fares against the whole wealth of sprinting talent here at the RideLondon Classique.
RideLondon Classique 2022 Outsiders
AG Insurance-NXTG’s Mylene de Zoete is an up and coming sprinter, at a similar point to someone like Charlotte Kool was last season. She’s taken some strong results this year, with 6th at Omloop der Kempen, 9th at Vuelta CV Feminas and 12th at Drentse Acht. A top-10 in a Women’s WorldTour sprint would be a great measure of progress.
Simone Boilard has been one of the surprises of the season as she’s made some solid progression in the pro ranks. Still only 21-years-old, the Canadian has been a top-10 regular in Turkey at the start of the year and then across into France and Belgium too. Like De Zoete, for Boilard as first WWT top-10 result would be a huge deal.
Last year’s Women’s Tour was a bit of a break-out for Josie Nelson of Team Coop-Hitec Products. The British rider was consistent all week, finishing 8th on the first day and then being just outside of the top-10 on multiple stages. She will look to take strong results again here, particularly on Stages 1 and 2 which could split the bunch up.