The 2021 Women's WorldTour season got underway in Siena on the 6th March at Strade Bianche. Thereafter, up until Amstel Gold Race, each WWT race had been won by a different rider from a different team; with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) outdoing Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) to take Strade Bianche, Longo Borghini taking Trofeo Alfredo Binda in emphatic style, Grace Brown (BikeExchange) time trialling to a win and upsetting the sprinters at De Panne, a classic show of speed and style from Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) at Gent-Wevelgem followed by the return of Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) at Flanders.
After taking her second WWT victory of the season at Amstel Gold Race—remarkably, a race she had not yet won—Marianne Vos moved into the lead of the overall classification, taking the jersey from Elisa Longo Borghini. Anna van der Breggen claimed her first World Tour victory of the season as she won her seventh La Flèche Wallonne. The World Champion then repaid the favour for teammate Demi Vollering, setting her up to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège and close out the 2021 Classics Season.
A three-week lull in Women's World Tour racing after Liège was followed by a new addition to the WWT calendar, Vuelta a Burgos Féminas. The race overall was taken by Anna van der Breggen with Annemiek van Vleuten moving into the lead of the Women's WorldTour overall.
After a month-long hiatus, the WWT returned on the 26th June with the final edition of La Course by Le Tour de France won by Demi Vollering of SD Worx . Vollering now also moved into the WWT leader's jersey — leading by 35 points ahead of van Vleuten.
Many of the big-name riders chose to sit out Clásica San Sebastian after the Tokyo Olympic Games — including the entire SD Worx squad — but Annemiek van Vleuten battled jet lag and a strong Trek-Segafredo team to take her second World Tour win of the season. She now leads the classification by 365 points ahead of Vollering.
The second WWT stage race of the season, The Ladies Tour of Norway had a different winner for each of the four stages. Both Kristen Faulkner of Tibco-SVB and Riejanne Markus of Jumbo Visma took their first WWT wins. Chloe Hosking, returning to racing after a four-month hiatus, won the final stage and Annemiek van Vleuten dominated the 11km climb on stage three to claim the day and the overall and extend her lead on the WWT classification.
Hot on the heels of Norway was the Simac Ladies Tour. The six days of racing in the Netherlands proved just as lucky for breakaways and saw Alison Jackson of Liv Racing take her first ever WWT victory. There was less fortune for the sprinters, however, in particular on stage three which saw a massive pile up in the peloton take down all but six riders. Marianne Vos sealed her GOAT status even further by taking three of the six stages and Chantal van den Broek Blaak sealed the GC for SD Worx.
Just one day later came GP Plouay. Lizzie Deignan has owned the Bretagne-based classic in recent years, however this time her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini took the honours after a solo rampage reminiscent of her Trofeo Alfredo Binda victory and stamping herself well and truly on the map form-wise for the rest of the season.
The third in a series of stage races — and the penultimate WWT stage race of the season — the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta began with yet another breakaway victory. Double Swiss national champion and Olympic silver medallist in the time trial, Marlen Reusser, attacked her breakaway companions and took almost two minutes on the peloton going into the second stage — a 7km uphill ITT. However the inimitable Annemiek van Vleuten won that stage, clawing back time on Reusser and then went on to win stage three by almost three minutes and move into the GC lead by 1:34 — a margin she held onto at the end of the fourth and final stage.
Van Vleuten now leads the Women's WorldTour overall classification by 928 points with just two more events remaining.
Races so far
Strade Bianche 1. WWT (06/03) – Debrief
Trofeo Alfredo Binda 1.WWT (21/03) – Debrief
Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne 1.WWT (24/03)
Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields 1.WWT (28/03)
Tour of Flanders/Ronde van Vlaanderen 1.WWT (04/04) – Debrief
Amstel Gold Race 1.WWT (18/04) — Debrief
La Flèche Wallonne 1.WWT (21/04)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège 1.WWT (25/04) —Debrief
Vuelta a Burgos Féminas 2.WWT (20/05-23/05)
Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour 1.Pro (25/05-30/05)
La Course 1.WWT (26/06)
Giro d'Italia Donne 2.Pro (02/07-11/07) — Debrief
Ladies Tour of Norway 2.WWT (12/08 - 15/08)
Simac Ladies Tour 2.WWT (24/08 - 29/08)
GP de Plouay - Lorient- Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit 1.WWT (30/08)
Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta 2.WWT (02/09 - 04/09)
Photo credit: Zac Williams/SWpix.com
Paris Roubaix 1.WWT (02/10)
The moment that a women's Paris Roubaix popped up on the revised 2020 calendar was a seminal one for women's cycling — one of the most legendary races of the sport would now be contested by the women's peloton, too. However due to the increasingly dire pandemic situation at the time, the 2020 edition was cancelled.
Fans thought they only had to wait until 11th April for the first women’s race on the hallowed cobbled roads of ‘The Hell of the North’ but, once again, the race found itself thwarted by the ongoing public health situation in France. The now twice-postponed inaugural women's Paris Roubaix will take place a day before the men's race, on the 2nd October — let's hope it's third time lucky.
For the men, the race has been held since 1896 and has a long and feted history. The route released for the women’s race last October was a shorter, modified version which the start in Denain, just south of Roubaix.
At 116km the route may appear truncated but the punishing terrain means there will be no shortage of a challenge for the peloton. The route for the women’s race incorporates 29.5km of cobbles including some of the hardest sectors such as the Carrefour de l'Arbre.
While the women’s peloton do race over cobbles in other classics, those at Paris Roubaix are a different beast as many teams found out when they went to recon the course last year. Equipment and course knowledge will play a big part for whoever wants to make history by winning the first women’s edition of this iconic race.
Favourites: Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Jolien d'Hoore, Lizzie Deignan, Ellen van Dijk, Lucinda Brand, Marianne Vos.
Outsiders: Lotte Kopecky, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, Lisa Brennauer, Amy Pieters.
Photo credit: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com
The Women’s Tour 2.WWT (04/10-09/10)
Both a fan and rider favourite, the Women’s Tour has quickly taken the place of one of the best World Tour stage races on the women’s calendar. After being forced to cancel the 2020 event, the organisers announced that the race was postponed from its usual June spot to October for 2021.
The race often covers some of the most gruellingly tough parcours in the UK and although it doesn’t feature mountain passes, there is plenty of climbing. For 2021 the race will feature a time trial for the first time in its history.
The race has also offered equal prize money since 2018, and as of this year will be showing the race live for the first time. The parcours for the 2021 race has yet to be released, but a mix of terrain can be expected.
Favourites: Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan, Kasia Niewiadoma, Cecille Uttrup Ludwig.
Outsiders: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Lizzy Banks, Josceline Lowden.
Tour of Chongming Island 2.WWT (14/10-17/10) - Cancelled
Tour of Guangxi 1.WWT (19/10) - Cancelled
Ronde van Drenthe 1.WWT (23/10)
Sprinters will be hoping that Ronde van Drenthe comes down to a bunch kick after the cancellation of Chongming Island and Tour of Guangxi. In the past few editions a reduced group has come to the line but it's a race that's been won by some of the fastest legs in the peloton including Jolien d'Hoore and former world champion Amalie Dideriksen. It's equally possible that the trend for breakaways to make it to the line continues, however.
Favourites: Amalie Dideriksen, Emma Norsgaard, Lorena Wiebes, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters, Ellen van Dijk.
Outsiders: Kirsten Wild, Lisa Klein.