A London finish and better field are set to make the Women’s Tour one of the world’s premier women’s stage races
Announced on Wednesday morning, the route of the 2017 Women’s Tour is a step forward for the race, says organiser Sweetspot.
This year’s event will have longer stages, a better field and will climax on the streets of London this June, pushing the race towards the pinnacle of women’s stage racing.
“I said in year one that I wanted to make this the biggest and best women’s stage race in the world,” race director Mick Bennett told Cycling Weekly during the route launch at London’s City Hall this morning.
“I think we achieved that in year two and it was made WorldTour in year three. This is our fourth year, so it is incremental steps, moving it on.”
The final stage of this year’s race will tackle 14 laps of the London circuit the men’s Tour of Britain has used in recent years and it this Bennett sees as one the crowning glory of the race.
“I think it is the most iconic circuit in the world. In the centre of London, right at its heartbeat. It shows how the women’s sport has moved on.”
Though details of the second, Stoke-on-Trent stage are not yet known, the remaining stages all exceed 130km, with one day more than 150km, something which would not have been possible until a change if UCI regulations late last year.
“We’ve had longer stages before and it didn’t affect the race,” Bennett continued.
“We have to consider we have a rolling road closure and I don’t want the peloton spread over half-an-hour, because it makes safety and logistics difficult.
“But I think it can only add to the quality of the event because you get a different type of rider come through, and defending the jersey will be a little bit more difficult, so it does make the racing more exciting.”
The quality will also be improved by the field. When the race rolls out from Daventry on June 7, for the first time in the event’s short history all 15 top ranked UCI women’s teams will be present.
And, while in previous years a Great Britain team was present, this year those top flight outfits will be joined by two British domestic teams, Drops and WNT.
“It’s very important that we support growth and inspire people within team management,” Bennett continued.
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“This is one of the benchmark events for their calendar and a lot of up and coming and quality riders are in those teams. A GB squad could only put out a development team, but some of those riders are already in Drops and WNT, so it was a no-brainer.”
Having previously ridden the race in the red, white and blue of Great Britain, Olympic track gold medallist Katie Archibald will ride in the blue of Team WNT, and while Bennett believes the Scotswoman could finish high on general classification, she has more humble ambitions.
“I would like to be there for the sprint finishes and suffer through the climbs on the harder stages,” Archibald, a gold medallist on the track in Rio told us.
“Team WNT are a British registered team and one of the biggest stage races on the UCI calendar is in Britain, so hopefully we will make the jersey known and show ourselves with some respectable results.
“I rode the London Six-Day at the end of last year and that was another big London event that was heavy with spectators, so it will be amazing to have that type of support on the road.”