The organiser of the Ladies Tour of Norway has announced firm plans for a six day stage race called the Battle of the North to happen in 2022.
It has applied to the UCI to have the Scandinavian stage race between August 16 and 21, with stages in Denmark before the race heads north for three days in Norway and a fourth crossing into Sweden.
As the race will replace the Ladies Tour of Norway it is expected the new event will also be part of the top tier, the Women’s WorldTour, consequently attracting the biggest teams and best riders.
The race was originally announced in 2019, the organiser hoping to amalgamate the two Swedish one-day events at Vårgårda and the Norwegian race into a 10-day event. This has not proved possible, with Vårgårda, which runs two WorldTour races – a team time trial and road race – on the same weekend, choosing to remain independent.
“There are no bad feelings on our part, Vårgårda is a unique concept with strong local roots,” said Ladies Tour of Norway organiser Roy Moberg in a press release.
“A the same time it places some restrictions in us in relation to realising the Battle of the North as we had originally planned. There is simply no place in the UCI’s calendar for a 10-day stage race with the continuation of Vårgårda in the same time period in August.
However, though the Ladies Tour of Norway organiser is formally behind the application to the UCI, they are supported by both the Danish and Swedish cycling federations.
Performances from riders such as 2016 world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Trek-Segafredo), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and more recently Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) have highlighted the quality of the women’s sport in Denmark, and the race will be good news for the sport there.
Though stages move around the south of the country, crossing the Oslo Fjord, the Ladies Tour of Norway is based in the town of Halden, south of Oslo and right on the border with Sweden. Traditionally the final stage heads into Sweden and the press release suggests this will continue in the Battle of the North.
“We will have six varied and spectacular stages that offer tough cross country riding in Jutland [Denmark], climbing in the Norwegian mountains and fast-paced technical roads in Eastern Norway, spiced with a Swedish Norwegian ending,” read the release.
The race will make for a busy summer of top-level stage racing for the women’s peloton, with the addition of a women’s equivalent of the Tour de France expected over eight days in July. Cycling Weekly understands the 10-day Giro Rosa is hoping to return to the WorldTour in 2022 after being relegated for this year.
Add a six-day Women’s Tour in the UK, and two Spanish four-day races in May which are set to return in 2022 after one was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, and the timing of the Scandinavian race was complicated.
“It is no secret that we have tried to find a spot in the UCI’s WorldTour calendar in May/June… We have so far not succeeded with that, but if we get an opening from the UCI it is still desirable,” said technical implementation project manager, Anders Eia Linnestad.
The Norwegian race has been running since 2014 and has been won by some of the sport’s biggest names, including Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx), Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) and Megan Guarnier.
Winner of Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem, Marianne Vos has dominated, the Dutch rider winning eight stages and GC in the three most recent editions, the gnarly Classics style courses suiting her perfectly.