The SIMAC Ladies Tour is arguably the most prestigious Dutch stage race, and it enjoys its quarter century edition this year. The race comprises a Prologue and five stages, including an individual time trial. Last year’s winner was Lorena Wiebes, then riding for Team DSM, which gives a good indication of the type of rider who you can be expected to perform well, as the parcours is largely flat.
Having said that, this race does include a stage with significant climbs, including some of the iconic bergs featured in the Amstel Gold Race, so while sprinters may contest many of the stages, the GC winner will need to manage a fair bit of climbing, as well as being able to go well against the clock.
The race takes place from Tuesday 5th to Sunday 10th September 2023.
Prologue – Tuesday 5th September – Ede – Ede (2.4km, ITT)
A short ride against the clock will kick off proceedings, and it will be a matter of seconds that will allow the first leader’s jersey of the race to be awarded and put the rest in order heading into the first full stage.
Stage 1 – Wednesday 6th September – Gennep – Gennep (139.6km, Flat)
The first full road stage of the race centres around the city of Gennep. The course features two loops of a 62.7km circuit, followed by a shorter 16.3km lap heading to the finish line. It’s a pan flat course so almost guaranteed to finish with a bunch sprint.
Stage 2 – Thursday 7th September – Leuven – Leuven (7.2km, ITT)
Stage 2 sees a second opportunity for riders to go against the clock, this time in a slightly longer time trial. It’s a mostly flat course around Leuven, although there is one bump to overcome after just one kilometre, and it will allow slightly bigger gaps to open between the GC riders, though nothing that cannot be overcome in the later stages of the race.
Stage 3 – Friday 8th September – Emmeloord – Lelystad (149km, Flat)
Beginning in the town of Emmeloord, the peloton will cross the road bridge over the water to Lelystad, before completing two 60.4km laps of the town. There is barely a hiccup in the road all day, and another completely flat day will of course appeal to the fast women in the bunch, who will likely compete in a bunch gallop for the line.
Stage 4 – Saturday 9th September – Valkenburg – Valkenburg (131.6km, Hilly)
It’s a day for the Ardennes classics specialists on Stage 4, which takes the peloton around the city of Valkenburg, beginning at Landal castle and ending on the infamous Cauberg. The route travels through South Limberg, and finishes with two laps of a circuit featuring the Cauberg along with the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg. Those who have performed well in the Ardennes Classics will enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs on some of the region’s most famous bergs.
Stage 5 – Sunday 10th September – Arnhem – Arnhem (150.5km, Flat)
The longest stage of the race is also the final stage, so differences in the general classification could still be overcome on a day that sees the action begin and end in the Gelderland province of Arnhem in the centre of the Netherlands, via two different circuits. The first of these takes in Emmapiramide and the Posbank, on a loop that’s repeated seven times, before the race heads through Arnhem for five laps of a circuit which features the Zijpendaalseweg and the Apeldoornsweg. It’s likely to be a sprint finish on the Zijpendaalseweg, unless the GC riders are looking to launch a final attack in their search for victory.
Riders to Watch
Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar closes out her season, and her career, at home with the SIMAC Ladies Tour. It’s likely to be an emotional send-off for the Dutch former World Champion, and Annemiek will be hoping to finish with her held high, so expect her to challenge for the GC win and perhaps some stage wins along the way, where she feels she has the legs.
She will face tough competition as always from the likes of SD Worx, Lidl-Trek, Canyon//SRAM and FDJ SUEZ.
Riders to watch (GC)
5-stars Annemiek van Vleuten
When – September 2023
Where – The Netherlands
What – 6-day stage race
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