Many held their breath as Annemiek van Vleuten rode to victory during the nerve-racking finish of last year’s La Course. In what was arguably the most exciting race of 2018, pro women’s racing was once again shown to be a thrilling sport to watch, becoming more so every season. With new teams being formed, young stars emerging, and more ambitious courses than ever before, we’re sure to see the women’s peloton continue to prove they can consistently deliver exhilarating racing. As we look forward to kicking things off in a few short weeks, here’s the line-up and a few highlights that you definitely don’t want to miss in 2019.
We’re off to the races at the Strade Bianche
The official season opener for the women’s UCI 2019 schedule, the Strade Bianche Donne, will be played out on Saturday, March 9th. Since its inception, the Strade Bianche has garnered attention for its dirt roads, the unpaved sectors characterised by uneven surfaces and gravel. With unpredictable conditions challenging enough to cause splits, these give the Classic a unique and adventurous feel.
This year, the women’s Strade Bianche covers 136 km, with 8 sectors and 31.4 km of gravel roads. The route travels on the same roads as the men’s race, with the finale also taking place at the eminent Piazza del Campo in Siena, following a short, steep climb. Last year, Anna van der Breggen soloed in cold conditions to take the title ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini. Let’s hope the riders get some sunshine this year, as we see who conquers the gravel and takes the first big win of the women’s 2019 calendar.
Epic climbing at the Tour of California
The route of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race, one of the most well-promoted races on the women’s tour, will span three days from May 16th to 18th. This year’s edition will be the longest course to date for a women’s event and includes the infamous Mt. Baldy ascent.
2019 marks the first time the climb is featured in the women’s event, making stage 2 a must-see for anyone who loves a good mountaintop finish. The ascent is part of 6000 m of climbing over 3 stages, with the first and the final stage expected to end in field sprints. Throw Mt. Baldy in the middle and there’s no doubt this one will be action-packed from start to finish.
The one, the only, the Giro
Of course, no discussion of women’s road racing is complete without mention of the Giro Rosa.
The 30th edition starts on Friday, July 5th with a TTT and finishes Sunday the 14th on a cobbled climb to the Castle of Udine. Although the route is set to be presented fully in March, reportedly, the Queen Stage will finish atop the mighty Passo Gavia, which stands at an altitude of 2,621 metres. It is said that another summit finish will take place on Malga Montasio, making this another one likely to be dominated by the climbers.
Speaking of climbers, Annemiek van Vleuten was the winner in 2018, taking three stages, including a summit finish at the illustrious Monte Zoncolan. Coming back from an injury, it will be interesting to see whether or not she can defend her number one ranking at this year’s race.
Women’s Tour Britain adds a sixth stage
The Women’s Tour in Britain will increase to six stages of racing for 2019. Launched in 2014, the Tour, won last year by American Coryn Rivera (the first non-European to win), has previously been run over five days. Also making news in 2018, the prize fund is now equal to that of the men’s Tour of Britain, increasing significantly from €35,000 (£31,000) to €90,000 (£80,000).
— The Women's Tour (@thewomenstour) February 21, 2019
This year, the Tour will take place from Monday, June 10th to Saturday, June 15th and although the full route for the race is yet to be announced, it is safe to say that this one will draw in large crowds. Riders routinely comment on the impressive number of spectators that line the route, adding to the excitement and further fueling what is sure to be one of the most challenging races of the year.
Of course, this is just a taste of what we’re in for. The full schedule can be found below, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as more course routes are announced and the action gets underway.
Ready to start cheering? Check out of list of 5 women cyclists to watch in 2019.
9: Strade Bianche (Italy).
17: Ronde van Drenthe (Holland).
24: Trofeo Alfredo Binda (Italy).
28: Three Days of De Panne
31: Ghent-Wevelgem (Belgium).
7: Tour of Flanders (Belgium).
21: Amstel Gold Race (Holland).
24: Flèche Wallonne (Belgium).
28: Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium).
3-4: Tour de Yorkshire (not WorldTour)
9-11: Tour of Chongming Island (China).
16-18: Tour of California (US).
22-25: Emakumeen Bira (Spain).
10-15: British Women’s Tour .
27 & 30: British National Road Championships (Norfolk)
5-14: Giro Rosa (Italy).
23: La Course by Le Tour de France (France).
3: Prudential Ride London Classique (women).
16: Crescent Vargarda TTT (Sweden).
18: Crescent Vargarda road race (Sweden).
22-25: Tour of Norway.
31: GP Plouay (France).
3-8: Boels Ladies Tour (Holland).
14-15: Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta (Spain).
21-29: Road World Championships (Yorkshire)
20: Tour of Guangxi (China).