Race preview: Postnord Vårgårda RR & TT

The Women’s WorldTour heads to Sweden this weekend for a double header of racing in Vårgårda.

 

The Races

After a two year long Covid enforced hiatus, the duo of Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden races are back and they promise to deliver an exciting weekend of racing. The action kicks off with the standalone TTT on Saturday, followed by the ‘grippy’ road race on Sunday.

 

Team Time Trial 

In keeping with previous years, the 11th edition of the WT Team Time Trial will take place on the ‘traditional’ 35.6km route. 

 

 

The out and back course from Vårgårda to Herrljunga sees teams cover rolling terrain and with several sweeping turns and a rather technical final 3km the route will favour experienced squads.

The only TTT on the calendar this year, it’s likely to be a fairly open contest with the usual protagonists such as Trek Segafredo (2019’s winners), SD Worx, Team DSM, Canyon SRAM and Jumbo Visma all vying for the win.

 

Road Race 

Sunday brings the 15th edition of the Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda WestSweden RR and it looks set to be an attritional battle. Although a summer race, this year’s 125.7km long course has a somewhat spring ‘classic-esque’, ‘Strade’ feel to it which will not only favour the strong riders but those who are also savvy and skilled.

 

 

The redesigned course will see the riders head out onto a lumpy long lap of 37.7km which includes 3 gravel sectors ranging in length from 2.3km to 3.5km. Then it’s on to eight shorter 11km laps around Hägrunga. Although the riders may breathe a sigh of relief that this portion of the race is gravel free, there is in fact no respite as it’s a demanding and technical loop. The 1km ascent of Hägrungabakken per lap will undoubtedly whittle down the bunch and should also promote aggressive racing which could reward the opportunists.

 

 

Riders to Watch

The timing of the race (a week after the Tour and just 2 days before The Tour of Scandinavia), does throw up a few questions as to who will take to the start line so we may see an unexpected winner.

That said, the Dutch have a love affair with this race having taken 7 victories over the past decade and as ever, many of the pre race favourites hail from the Netherlands.  Indeed, assuming Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) starts, the Dutch rider heads into the race as one of ‘the’ riders to watch. The 23 year old from Mijdrecht has displayed utter sprinting dominance in 2022, and her scintillating form has yielded 16 wins already this season including two stages at last week’s Tour.

From one yellow jersey wearer to another, winner in 2018, Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) will also revel on such a demanding course. With 3 Vårgårda career wins already inscribed into her palmares can she add another this Sunday?

Dutch squad SD Worx will also be confident with their chances of continuing the country’s dominance and the team have several cards to play. With the likes of Demi Vollering, former winner – Chantal van den Broek-Blaak – as well as Elena Cecchini the team will look to capitalise on a hard and aggressive race.

Continuing with Dutch challengers, Trek-Segafredo’s Ellen Van Dijk will be another rider to watch. The current TT World Champion and hour record holder thrives in races of attrition and will look to use the demanding nature of the finishing circuits to play to her strengths. Likewise, teammate and winner of Tour de Suisse in June – Lucinda Brand – is another rider who will race aggressively and look for opportunities to attack.

Defending champion, Marta Bastianelli, did the Giro-Tour double so it’s likely she may not take to the start line in Sweden this weekend. That said, if she does and is recovered from her grand tour exertions, the course suits her well so she’ll be vying for the win again.

Other riders to watch include Brodie Chapman (FDJ), Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM) and the Canyon Sram duo of Lisa Klein and Shari Bossuyt. 

 

Summary

When: 6th and 7th August

Where: Sweden

What: TTT and RR

 

RR Riders to watch:

Lorena Wiebes ****

Ellen Van Dijk ***

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak ***

Marianne Vos ***

 

Top Outsider:

Shari Bossuyt

 

Watch the Femmes’ TV Coverage:

Eurosport and Discovery (TTT – Saturday 6th August 15:10 CEST and RR – Sunday 7th August 11:15 CEST.

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