842 days after Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) won the last edition of the race, the AJ Bell Women’s Tour returns tomorrow (Monday 4 October).
Following on from her historic victory in the first-ever Paris Roubaix on Saturday, Deignan heads the start list as the race gets underway in Oxfordshire with a 147.7-kilometre (91.8-mile) stage between Bicester and Banbury.
In total 16 different nationalities are represented on the start line in the 89-rider field. Britain is the most represented nation with 24 riders in the peloton.
A trio of riders – Hannah Barnes (Canyon SRAM Racing), Leah Kirchmann (Team DSM) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) – will be competing in their seventh edition of the AJ Bell Women’s Tour, having started and finished all six editions to date.
The youngest rider in the race is Alice Towers (Drops – Le Col s/b TEMPUR) at 18 years and 358 days, while Trek-Segafredo rider Trixi Worrack’s in one of the final races of her career at 40 years and 6 days.
This year’s AJ Bell Women’s Tour features its first-ever individual time trial, taking place in Atherstone on stage three (Wednesday 6 October), with the overall champion set to be crowned in Felixstowe on Saturday (9 October).
Double AJ Bell Women’s Tour stage winner Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange) said:“VeloViewer has been great to see what the courses will be like this year. The stages look like it will be really fun and interesting racing across the whole week and the terrain really suits our team.
“I like that there’s a ‘short’ time trial this year as well. It’ll really sort out the GC which can open the racing up a bit differently for non-time trial riders. It’s also been a special year with the Olympics and the first time we’ve had a really popular, strong stage race after the World Championships. I expect to see some great racing though, our peloton is relentless.”
Liv Racing’s Sofia Bertizzolo, who comes into the AJ Bell Women’s Tour fresh having missed Paris – Roubaix, said: “I don’t have a lot of experience in the Women’s Tour. It’s only the second time I’ve ridden it.
“I have studied the course and expect a very attacking race. The stage profiles don’t seem too difficult, so the attack might be worth it for those who are aiming for the general classification. The time trial could also be decisive for the general classification. I expect a fast race where everyone is sharp. The latter certainly applies to me. The last few weeks I have not ridden any races. But I’ve had good quality training sessions and I’m fresh and ready to go.”