Preview: Tour of Britain Women 2024

The second of two consecutive Women’s World Tour races in the United Kingdom, the Tour of Britain Women takes the place on the schedule of the Women’s Tour, following a change of organisation, and a year in which the race was not held due a lack of funding. The race has typically attracted a strong line-up and past winners include Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx-ProTime) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) who won the most recent edition of the race in 2022.

First ridden in 2014, the race became part of the Women’s World Tour in its inaugural year of 2016, and has had eight editions so far, and 2024’s newly named Tour of Britain Women will be the ninth edition, albeit the first under this new name. It covers a varied parcours featuring both hilly and flat stages.

The race takes place from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th June.

 

The Route

Stage 1 – Thursday 6 June – Welshpool-Llandudno (142.5km)

This year’s race begins in mid-Wales, with a long and challenging route which should set up the GC in preparation for the rest of the week.

Beginning in Welshpool, a town which featured at the last edition of the race in 2022, the route heads north, and the peloton must tackle over 2,200m of altitude gain as they traverse the challenging terrain of the North Wales countryside. It’s also the longest stage of the four.

The stage features two intermediate sprints as well as two categorised climbs, offering opportunities for riders contesting the points and Queen of the Mountains classifications, as well as providing an early launchpad for GC contenders. Following 65km of rolling roads, the category 1 rated Llangynog climb is situated in the centre of the day’s profile. Known locally as the Berwyn Pass, the ascent is 6km long with an average gradient of 5.4%. Further on, a category 2 climb will further separate the bunch, but with just over 35km still to ride to the finish line, the group may be able to come back together and we may well see a reduced bunch sprint at the seaside town of Llandudno, on the North Wales coast.

 

Stage 2 – Friday 7 June – Wrexham-Wrexham (140.2km)

The second longest stage of the race, stage 2 takes the peloton on a circular route heading east from Wrexham before looping south and back up to finish in the Welsh city. The profile is backloaded, with the riders heading over the border into north-west England during the first part of the day across the countryside of West Cheshire, before the return to Wales sees tougher challenges in the stunning county of Denbighshire.

There are two categorised climbs in the final third of the day, the first a category 3 and the second a category 1 ascent just outside Llangollen. With just over 25km remaining to the finish line in Wrexham, stage 2 is likely to prove even more decisive in the battle for the overall victory.

 

Stage 3 – Saturday 8 June – Warrington-Warrington (106.8km)

The day begins in front of the golden gates of Warrington Town Hall. Another circular route sees the peloton head counter-clockwise south-east and gradually uphill from around 20km, towards the first of two third category climbs that will offer a double launchpad for breakaway hopefuls.

Once the second climb is complete however, over 50km remain to the finish line back in Warrington, so this stage looks set to provide spectators with the first opportunity of this year’s race to witness a bunch sprint finish.

 

Stage 4 – Sunday 9 June – Greater Manchester: National Cycling Centre-Leigh (99km)

The final stage of the race is also the shortest at just 99km in length. It’s not short on challenges though, packing over 1,600m of elevation into its compressed profile, including two category 1 ascents.

Departing from the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, the peloton should receive a very warm welcome from the local crowds as they head out for a decisive day on the roads.

The first ascent comes just 16km into the race. The Delph to Grains Bar climb is 2.7km in length, at an average gradient of 5.5%, and will serve as an ideal location for breakaway hopefuls to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. The second climb is the infamous Ramsbottom Rake. Coming 43km into the profile, the climb is unlikely to prove decisive in the overall classification with over 50km still to ride, but it will tire the legs – just 970m long, but with an average pitch of 9.9%, parts of the climb kick up to over 19%.

The race finishes in the town of Leigh, and despite the difficulty of the climbing, it could well finish with a sprint, either from a bunch or reduced bunch, as the final decisions are made as to who will win the 2024 edition of the race.

 

Riders to Watch

Despite having boasted a strong line-up in previous years, just four World Tour teams remain in Britain for the Tour of Britain Women this week as the race begins to rebuild its status on the World stage. They are joined by 11 continental teams and an eye-catching Great Britain team comprising riders from several teams.

Once again, Team SD Worx-ProTime will come into the race as favourites for the overall victory, and for most of the stage wins. While world’s fastest women Lorena Wiebes was the star attraction at the flatter RideLondon Classique, with a hat-trick of victories, the headline act at this race will undoubtedly be World Champion Lotte Kopecky. With a rolling parcours and no particularly long climbs, combined with the infamous British weather, the course is ideal for classics specialist Kopecky, and she will be able to target both the hilly and the flat stages in an effort to win her second GC of the year, following her early-season success at the UAE Women Tour, and ahead of a summer which will see her target the road and track at the Paris Olympic Games.

Team dsm-firmenich PostNL and Liv-Jayco-AlUla are the teams most likely provide a challenge to the potential SD Worx dominance at the race. They bring a broad selection of talent including Rachele Barbieri and Charlotte Kool for fast finishes, and reigning British champion Pfeiffer Georgi who will see out her tenure in the national champion’s jersey at the race, and will hope to mark the occasion with victory.

The Great Britain team will also offer tough competition. Led by veteran Lizzie Deignan, who is joined by her Lidl-Trek teammate Elynor Backstedt, the team will hope to make a mark on home territory ahead of Olympic selection later in the month. With Visma-Lease A Bike’s Anna Henderson and track gold medallist Elinor Barker among their number, along young talents Flora Perkins and Millie Couzens, the British women are definitely ones to watch.

The two other World Tour teams hoping to shake up the status quo and spring a surprise on the Dutch team are Human Powered Health and Liv-Jayco-AlUla. While the former bring a varied squad, it’s the Australian team who could rival the Dutch in dominance. With sprinter Letizia Paternoster in excellent form this season and Australia champion Ruby Roseman-Gannon among their number, they will have their sights set on victory.

Beyond the top tier, there are plenty of possibilities for outside wins, with a number of other in-form riders, including Mirre Knaven (AG Insurance-NXTG U23 team),  Sarah Roy (Cofidis Women’s Team), and Marion Bunel and Victorie Guilman (St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93).

With plenty of domestic talent also on the startlist, excitement will be high as opportunities to win on home soil are rare, and the prestige of featuring prominently in a World Tour race could offer the promise of a bright future for any riders who are up to the task.

 

Riders to watch (GC)

5-stars Kopecky

4-stars Georgi, Henderson

3-stars Deignan, Wiebes, Roseman-Gannon

2-stars Baker, Roy

1-star Bunel, Christie, Knaven

 

Summary

When – Thursday 6 – Sunday 9 June

Where – United Kingdom

What – 4-day stage race

TV Coverage: Eurosport, Discovery+

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