Dutch champion Chantal Blaak will return to the Boels Ladies Tour this week as the defending champion. The six-day stage race in the Netherlands was promoted to Women’s WorldTour in 2017 and Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team is eager to perform well again in its inaugural UCIWWT edition. The team also lines up the only other wearer of the leader’s jersey in the 2016 edition, world road champion Amalie Dideriksen.
Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen and Amy Pieters will join Blaak in their home country. Luxembourg road champion Christine Majerus and British road champion Lizzie Deignan complete the line-up.
The Boels Ladies Tour forms round 19 in the Women’s WorldTour and is the penultimate event in the series. The race consists of six days of racing in the Netherlands. A 4.3-kilometre prologue kick-starts the week of racing this afternoon.
After a road race in stage two, the riders will be back on their time trial bikes on day three. The 18.1-kilometre individual time trial may be flat, but is quite technical at times.
Three road races that increase in length towards the weekend make up the second half of the week. The last two days of racing will be long and hard, with two road races in the province of Limburg, where undulating roads await the riders. An Amstel Gold Race-like finale of almost 160 kilometres will finish off the Boels Ladies Tour on Sunday.
The 2016 Boels Rental Ladies Tour only knew two leaders. Dideriksen won the first stage in a sprint and was awarded the first leader’s jersey. The team time trial that followed on day two was won by Boels-Dolmans and Dideriksen retained her leader’s jersey.
In Sittard-Geleen, Blaak told hold of the leader’s jersey after stage three, when she crossed the line in a group of five that also included Pieters. Blaak was never to hand off the leader’s jersey again.
With a strong line-up, Boels-Dolmans heads to the Boels Ladies Tour without one designated team leader.
“It is a tough edition of the race, because of the prologue and individual time trial on days one and three,” says Van der Breggen. “After the first three stages, we will determine our race plan as a team and decide who will go for the GC."
The Boels Ladies Tour is the last hard block of racing before the World Road Championships in Norway. Van der Breggen is selected for both the individual time trial and the road race.
“I just want to have a nice week of racing,” Van der Breggen says. “This is a great race to dot the i’s. Of course we want to win, but we’ll see how it goes, how we all do in the time trials. I hope we will have a good week as a team.”
Blaak hopes Boels-Dolmans can repeat the overall win, but doesn’t necessarily have to bring home the orange Boels Rental leader’s jersey herself. She expects the last two stages to be decisive for the GC.
“Anything can happen until the last two days in Limburg,” Blaak says. “I’m happy if I can perform well and maybe win a stage. The GC might follow from there, but I just hope we can take the overall win as a team. I will work hard to make that happen.”
HOW TO FOLLOW
There is no livestream or TV coverage of the race, although local broadcaster L1 might air highlights of the last three stages.
To follow Boels Ladies Tour on Twitter use #BLT2017 – or #UCIWWT, now that the race is part of the Women’s WorldTour.
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Boels Ladies Tour:
Anna van der Breggen