The 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour has entered its final third. The 17th and 18th of 23 events in the series are set to take place in Sweden with the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden team time trial and road race. Although she won’t be competing as she’s busy training at altitude for her last goals of the season, Annemiek van Vleuten is assured of retaining the overall UCI Women’s WorldTour lead. However, a fierce battle is expected for the Best Young Rider jersey after Lorena Wiebes came within four points of Marta Cavalli thanks to her victory on The Mall in the Prudential RideLondon Classique.
With three riders in the top five of the European Championships last weekend in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, representing their respective national teams of Italy, Germany and Great Britain, Canyon-SRAM Racing riders Elena Cecchini (2nd), Lisa Klein (3rd) and Alice Barnes (5th) will bring their form to Sweden to defend their reputations as world class team time trial specialists. Along with Hannah Barnes, Alena Amialiusik and Trixi Worrack, they were crowned UCI World Champions for TTT in Innsbruck – Tirol (Austria), last year. Only Worrack isn’t part of the team lining up in Sweden this coming weekend, but Alexis Ryan is her worthy replacement.
Canyon-SRAM Racing also won the TTT at last month’s Giro d’Italia in Castellania, but they can expect another battle against Boels Dolmans CyclingTeam who got the silver medal in Austria. The Dutch squad has won the past three Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden team time trials. The 35.6km race that kicks off the Scandinavian weekend is 6km shorter than last year but still starts and finishes in Vårgårda with a turn-around point in Herrljunga. It includes several sweeping turns and some damage can still be done in the final kilometre on an uphill section.
Former team time trial UCI World Champions and bronze medallists last year Team Sunweb will be once again in contention, led by Lucinda Brand, while Mitchelton-Scott, CCC Liv and Trek-Segafredo look like being other serious candidates for the title.
The same field of 15 teams will take part in the 15th edition of the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden road race the following day. It’s the Scandinavian summer version of the Strade Bianche that takes place in Italy in March, and includes six gravel sectors. The last one, called Landa, is 3.1km long and is to be tackled three times as part of the 15.3km conclusive lap. That dirt road comes after the Hägrungabakken climb and is 3km before the finish line.
The revamped course looks more demanding than in previous editions of the event. Recent winners have emerged from a reduced bunch sprint and it’ll be interesting to see how the sprinters overcome the difficulties this year. Following her maiden UCI Women’s WorldTour victory in London, Wiebes, from the Netherlands, is the up-and-coming sprinting star. The 20-year-old from the Parkhotel-Valkenburg team won the bunch sprint in the European Championships last weekend – although that was for fourth place behind the three breakaway riders.
Her compatriot Amy Pieters will make her debut with the white and blue stars jersey at the helm of the Boels Dolmans CyclingTeam that also features current UCI World Champion Anna van der Breggen and her predecessor Chantal Blaak. Superstar Marianne Vos of CCC Liv is flying this summer and will certainly find herself at ease on the Swedish gravel roads. She has won this race three times before (in 2009, 2013 and 2018) and looks at moving up in the 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour ranking. Currently third overall, she’s likely to leapfrog Katarzyna Niewiadoma but overall leader van Vleuten is out of reach for the moment.
If the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden road race is not to be a fully Dutch affair, Italy’s Marta Bastianelli, racing for Danish outfit Team Virtu Cycling, aims to make it three in the 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour after she claimed the Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe in March and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) in April.
Five races will remain in the series after this weekend: Ladies Tour of Norway (22-25 August), GP de Plouay-Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT (31 August), Boels Ladies Tour (3-8 September), WNT Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta (14-15 September) and Tour of Guangxi Women’s World Tour (22 October).
Want to watch the event live ? Here are the broadcasting info:
17 Aug TTT: Live international TV feed provided between 14:45-17:15 local time
SVT 1 (Sweden) 15:00-17:00
Eurosport Player (Europe) 15:00-17:00
GCN (Complementary Worldwide) 15:00-17:00
18 Aug Road Race: Live international TV feed provided between 10:45-15:15 local time
SVT 1 (Sweden) 11:00-15:00
Eurosport 1 (Europe) 12:30-15:00
Eurosport Asia/Pacific (Asia) 12:30-15:00
Eurosport Player (Europe) 11:00-15:00
GCN (Complementary Worldwide) 11:00-15:00