4 months ago by Oskar Scarsbrook

A North American’s guide to the Women’s Tour

Movement
Human Powered Health takes on UK’s biggest women’s stage race

Human Powered Health is heading for the UK to take on the six-day Women’s Tour. Not to be confused with the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (widely referred to as the ‘women’s tour’), the original ‘Women’s Tour’ is the UK’s premier stage race and is now in its eighth year. 

Running from June 6–11, an exciting route takes our riders from the east of England, through the center of the country followed by two tough stages in Wales and a finale among the city of Oxford’s Harry Potter-like surroundings. 

Ahead of the off, we spoke to Mieke Kröger and Lily Williams and wrote a guide for Americans – written by Brits – to clear up the confusion around the Women’s Tour. 

This is a key block for Mieke Kröger, Lily Williams and Marit Raaijmakers.
Anarchy in the UK


The program will be returning to the Women’s Tour having raced in the first two editions in 2014 and 2015 as Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies. In both years, the team placed a rider in the top 10 of the GC with Lauren Hall and Leah Kirchmann respectively.

As detailed in last year’s Tour of Britain preview, Britain (an island), the British Isles (an archipelago) and the United Kingdom (a country) are three entirely different entities, with the race actually going through two countries this year, England and Wales.

Thanks to the Women’s WorldTour status, our squad will be going wheel-to-wheel with some of the world’s best, including sprinter supreme Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), former champion Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing), in-form underdog Alexandra Manly (Team BikeExchange – Jayco) and Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek – Segafredo).

Kröger will be a popular rider in the UK and is excited to get back on the roads among the tender British roadside fans, including a friendly police officer she remembers who helped after a heavy crash in the event in 2018.

There are also four jerseys on the line. The yellow leader’s jersey, pink points jersey – which supports a UK breast cancer charity, green QOM jersey and red intermediate sprints jersey. 

Kröger will be a popular rider in the UK and is excited to get back on the roads among the tender British roadside fans, including a friendly police officer she remembers who helped after a heavy crash in the event in 2018.

“I’m feeling excited for the Women’s Tour,” Kröger says. “I do like the UK, it has a certain kind of charm.”

American Williams is also looking forward to doing her first ever race on UK roads – having been on the boards more often than not. “I’m looking forward to some technical and punchy racing which is certainly more my style,” the Olympian said. 

“Doing a hard stage race is ideal preparation for nationals,” the Olympian added. “I’ll go home and top it off with some easy riding and fine-tuning at altitude in Colorado and should show up for nationals strong and refreshed.”

British slang quiz


We wish you were here, so to get our fans talking the lingo of their cousins across the pond, our ever-popular British slang quiz is back for one race only. 

What does it mean when someone is “gobsmacked?”
They’ve taken an uppercut 🥊
They’re lost for words 🗣
They’ve come into a large amount of money 💷

What is feeling “gutted?”
A Welsh saying aimed to praise you 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿
Riding so hard that you feel nauseous 🤢
Being deeply disappointed about something 🙁 

What does “brass monkeys” mean? (and no we don’t mean the Beastie Boys song)
A famous statue in the middle of Oxford 🐒
A phrase describing a cold day 🥶
A marching band slogan 🎺 

What are the “bee’s knees?”
A popular type of honey-infused chocolate from Cadburys 🍫
Something that is highly admired 🐝
A well-attended society that celebrates Bee Movie, a 2007 modern-day classic of cinema 🎞 

What has happened when something has gone “pear-shaped?”
The peloton has quickly funnelled through a pinch-point 🚲
An exclamation of one’s physical appearance having eaten an English breakfast 🍳Something that has gone wrong 🍐

Women’s Tour stage-by-stage

 


6/6 Stage 1 | Colchester – Bury St Edmunds (141.9km) Flat

The opening stage in Essex should be a relatively straightforward affair, an early break should form and sweep up the few QOM points available on the road. There are two intermediate sprints each day. The route doesn’t present too many challenges though so the bunch can roll with it until things come together.

6/7 Stage 2 | Harlow – Harlow (96.4km) Flat/Hilly
The shortest stage of the race will be the first for the puncheurs to shine, with a Cat.3 climb sitting just 10km from the finish, expect to see attacks from riders wanting to avoid another bunch sprint. One for the scenery hunter, there’s a country house every time you turn a corner. The descent from this climb back to the finish at Harlow Innovation Park may prove the most important feature of the day and might be one step beyond for some riders.

6/8 Stage 3 | Tewkesbury – Gloucester (107.9km) Hilly
Despite there being no summit finish, stage three will be one of the most important of the race. The route features two Cat.2 climbs in the middle of the day that should remove any fast riders from the equation, a bitter sweet symphony for pure climbers though as it won’t be too hard for puncheurs with a kick. There is around 30 km to go after the final categorised climb, so a group sprint isn’t a longshot. Sit down, it could be a chaotic one.

6/9 Stage 4 | Wrexham – Welshpool (144.7km) Hilly
A connection can be made back to stage three with the stage four Welsh parcours. The hills mainly come in the middle part of the stage meaning that any sprinters should be cut adrift early in the day. There are two more Cat.2 climbs to come that will be important for riders who are movin’ on up in the QOM classifications.

6/10 Stage 5 | Pembrey Country Park – Black Mountain (106.6km) Mountains
The Queen stage of the race will see the riders take on the famous Black Mountain in South Wales. The route is one of the toughest ever seen in the Women’s Tour, with three Cat.1 climbs on the menu, meaning that the climbers will have to step on it to ensure victory. Black Mountain itself featured in the 2019 edition of the race and has an average gradient of 5.3% with slopes hitting 21% in places, it may see the walls come tumbling down on some jersey defences. A truly brutal day, especially if the Welsh weather comes into play, that or everyone will be left high and dry.

6/11 Stage 6 | Chipping Norton – Oxford (142.9km) Flat
The clash at the grand finale of the Women’s Tour will see the sprinters rolling in the deep of the action in Oxfordshire, with the GC already having been decided a day earlier. Two Cat.3 climbs feature early in the day but are unlikely to play any part in the day. Who will be the champion when the sun goes down?

 


Never mind the b?#@*&%s, here’s Human Powered Health
Nina Buijsman
Henrietta Christie
Mieke Kröger
Evy Kuijpers
Marit Raaijmakers
Lily Williams

How to watch

The organisation confirmed earlier this week that the race will have a transmission on the Eurosport Player and GCN+ throughout the week. 

 

If you just can’t get enough, follow day-by-day coverage on @HumanPwrdHealth, the official Twitter account of the Human Powered Health UCI Women’s WorldTour team and UCI ProTeam.

By the way, did you catch all the British musical references in this article?… Chumbawumba. 

P.S. Keep your eye out for some exciting Brit-centric news at the start of next week.

Answers

What does it mean when someone is “gobsmacked?”
They’ve taken an uppercut 🥊
They’re lost for words 🗣
They’ve come into a large amount of money 💷

What is feeling “gutted?”
A Welsh saying aimed to praise you 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿
Riding so hard that you feel nauseous 🤢
Being deeply disappointed about something  

What does “brass monkeys” mean? (and no we don’t mean the Beastie Boys song)
A famous statue in the middle of Oxford 🐒
A phrase describing a cold day 🥶
A marching band slogan 🎺 

What are the “bee’s knees?”
A popular type of honey-infused chocolate from Cadburys 🍫
Something that is highly admired 🐝
A well-attended society that celebrates Bee Movie, a 2007 modern-day classic of film 🎞 

What has happened when something has gone “pear-shaped?”
The peloton has quickly funnelled through a pinch-point 🚲
An exclamation of ones physical appearance having eaten an English breakfast 🍳
Something that has gone wrong 🍐