Ahead of the opening stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour on Monday (10 June) in Suffolk, four of the race’s previous five champions, Lizzie Deignan, Marianne Vos, Kasia Niewiadoma and Coryn Rivera, spoke at a pre-race media event in Ipswich, looking ahead to the six day race.
The quartet, along with 2015 winner Lisa Brennauer (WNT ROTOR Pro Cycling), feature in a 16-team, 96-rider start list for the sixth edition of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, which concludes in Carmarthenshire on Saturday 15 June.
Lizzie Deignan, Trek Segafredo (2016 winner):[on parcours] “I think like always we’re going to have to be very prepared for the unpredictability of the stages. The only thing we can be sure of is that the first stage is flat and from there on in we have to be prepared for anything because I think those Welsh stages will be really difficult.
“I think our team is really focused on having the opportunity every night on TV to showcase Women’s cycling; we’ll be aggressive and make the racing interesting, and normally that leads to victory.”[on ambitions] “We’ll be aggressive and make the racing interesting and normally that leads to victories.” [on her return to racing] “This race was my first idea of when I would return to racing so I’ve come back earlier than expected, and thank goodness because this would be a pretty brutal beginning. I’m going to take a rest after this race, so this is the last block of racing for me before I have a rest.” [on Stage 2 at the Kent Cyclopark] “I think it’s going to be really painful! It’s been about 15 years since I’ve done a criterium, I might be in trouble. It’s going to be fast, technical and aggressive. There will be lots of accelerations and I think it’ll be a hard stage.” [on winning the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in 2016] “I think winning overall for me was a huge deal. I’d never won a stage race before – I barely finish stage races normally, so to finish it and win it was very special. I think I probably had some of the strongest legs of my career at the Women’s Tour that year, and to race in front of a British crowd is always incredibly special for me.”
Marianne Vos, CCC Liv (2014 winner):[on parcours] “This race is always unpredictable so things can happen in every stage and when it’s flat it’s rolling and the weather can play a role as well, the first few can be decisive for the general already.” [on form] “It’s exciting to be back racing, tomorrow I will feel the first race back again like Kasia [Niewiadoma] said.” [on team and leadership] “It’s unpredictable and that’s also how we go into this race with an open strategy and see how it turns out and we’ll play that card and it’s better when you have more cards to play especially when it is this hard. Of course a stage victory is always great and we hope to do well in GC.”
Kasia Niewiadoma, Canyon SRAM Racing (2017 winner):[on ambitions] “With my team, we are ready to do our best as everyone and of course it will be great to get some stage victories and GC at the end but it’s always easier said and done.” [on parcours] “Somehow, I feel even tomorrow will be super difficult, even though it’s flat I know how I won this race was a stupid attack, so maybe tomorrow someone will do it as well.” [on solo win] “I do believe there are a lot of riders have the opportunity to win from just a solo attack.”
Coryn Rivera, Team Sunweb (2018 winner):[on parcours] “Definitely the last two stages in Wales are pretty hard and then an interesting stage two with the circuit is different but will definitely be exciting, quite a bit harder than last year.” [on form] “I’m confident in my form and also I my team, I think we’re here with a strong squad and we will do our best.”
Once more the OVO Energy Women’s Tour offers prize money parity with the men’s Tour of Britain, thanks to award winning independent energy supplier OVO Energy, the title sponsors for a third edition of the race.
Stage One takes place in Suffolk, getting underway from Beccles at 10:30 and featuring a 157.9-kilometre / 98-mile that finishing in Stowmarket, with an expected finish of around 15:00 in the town centre.
Highlights of Stage One will be shown on ITV4 at 20:00 on Monday 10 June with a repeat at 06:25 on Tuesday 11 June on the same channel. Programmes will be available on demand via the ITV Hub catch up service and via Eurosport in the UK and around the world.
Words by Sweetspot, Images Chris Maher
• Stage One, Monday 10 June, Beccles to Stowmarket, 157.6km
• Stage Two, Tuesday 11 June, the Kent Cyclopark Stage, 62.5km
• Stage Three, Wednesday 12 June, Henley-on-Thames to Blenheim Palace, 145.1km
• Stage Four, Thursday 13 June, Warwick to Burton Dassett Country Park, 158.9km
• Stage Five, Friday 14 June, Llandrindod Wells to Builth Wells, 140km
• Stage Six, Saturday 15 June, Carmarthen to Pembrey Country Park, 125.9km
About the OVO Energy Women’s Tour
Created by SweetSpot Group in 2014, the OVO Energy Women’s Tour is the UK’s first international stage race for women, bringing the world’s top riders to compete in Great Britain as a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour.
In addition to its wider aims of promoting active and healthy lifestyles to women, the event has championed equality in sport, notably offering the same prize fund pro rata as the men’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain. The race will expand to six days for the first time in its history in 2019.
The race, which has been won by the likes of Marianne Vos (2014), Lizzie Deignan (2016) and Coryn Rivera (2018), attracts an annual roadside audience of 300,000, as well as over three million fans through linear and online platforms.
Follow the OVO Energy Women’s Tour on Twitter (#OVOWT), Facebook, Instagram or via the event’s official website at womenstour.co.uk.