Women's WorldTour Calendar 2021: The Rouleur Racing Guide

From the cobbled Classics to the Ardennes, stage races such as The Women's Tour and some new and improved events, the 2021 Women's World Tour calendar is shaping up to be the best yet as favourites such as Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Elisa Longo Borghini and Marianne Vos battle for the overall.

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 Raceremarkably, a race she had not yet wonMarianne 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 moves into the WWT leader's jersey — leading by 35 points ahead of van Vleuten.

Related – Eight questions to be answered in women's cycling in 2021

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 

Photo credit: Zac Williams/SWpix.com

Women's WorldTour: What we have learned from the Spring Classics

Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa Women 1.WWT (31/07)

The first edition of an Itzulia Basque Country women stage race was due to take the place of Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa this season. However, due to the pandemic, it was unable to go ahead. Organisers instead decided to hold another Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa Women in place of the stage race, which will kick off in 2022 instead. 

Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa Women was itself a new race in 2019, and has only had one pro edition so far, won by Lucy Kennedy (Team BikeExchange). The calibre of rider present at this race may not be as high as other WorldTour races given its proximity to the Olympic Games, as many riders may opt to take a break after Tokyo and before the second half of the season. Should the top riders choose not to race, we might see those usually confined to domestique roles given a chance to shine. 

Favourites: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Cecille Uttrup Ludwig, Elisa Longo Borghini

Outsiders: Marta Cavalli, Mavi Garcia, Niamh Fisher-Black.

Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden TTT 1.WWT (07/08)

Since the World Championship TTT was taken off the calendar in 2018 this is one of the few if not the only TTT outing in the season for the women. 

In its earlier iterations it was dominated by Specialized-Lululemon (now Canyon//SRAM) and latterly by Boels Dolmans (now SD Worx) however it was Trek-Segafredo who took the last win in 2019.  

Favourites: SD Worx, Canyon//SRAM, Team BikeExchange.

Outsiders: Team DSM, Liv Racing, Ceratizit-WNT.

Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden RR 1.WWT (08/08)

Usually an outing for the sprinters, the Swedish race was last won by Marta Bastianelli in 2019, however the inimitable Marianne Vos has taken the win three times in the race’s fourteen year history.

Favourites: Emma Cecille Norsgaard, Chloe Hosking, Lotte Kopecky, Emilia Fahlin, Mariane Vos, Kirsten Wild, Elena Cecchini, Elisa Balsamo. 

Outsiders: Letizia Paternoster, Arlenis Sierra, Lotta Henttala.

Ladies Tour of Norway 2.WWT (12/08-15/08)

The Ladies Tour of Norway was due to collaborate with Danish and Swedish federations to organise a six-day ‘Battle of the North’ stage race across Norway, Denmark and Sweden last year. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed the plans and although the race is set to go ahead in 2022 the Ladies Tour of Norway remains a standalone four-day stage race for 2021. 

Established in 2014, the race is relatively new but has been ambitious from the beginning, quickly rising to World Tour status in 2017 since when Marianne Vos has won every edition. 

Favourites: Marianne Vos, Lorena Wiebes, Emma Cecille Norsgaard, Marta Bastianelli, Amalie Dideriksen.

Outsiders: Marta Cavalli, Lisa Klein, Coryn Rivera, Emilia Fahlin.

Simac Ladies Tour 2.WWT (24/08-29/08)

Another stage race with a relatively long history relative to many women’s races, Boels Ladies Tour went by the name Holland Ladies Tour from when it was first held, in 1998, before changing names due to sponsorship, eventually becoming Boels Rentals Ladies Tour and now Simac Ladies Tour. 

The most recent winner was Christine Majerus in 2019. The race usually comprises a mix of flat and hillier stages as well as an individual time trial.

Favourites: Christine Majerus, Lizzie Deignan, Annemiek van Vleuten, Lisa Brennauer, Anna van der Breggen.

Outsiders: Marta Cavalli, Leah Thomas.

GP de Plouay - Lorient- Agglomération Trophée CERATIZIT 1.WWT (31/08)

One for the punchier riders who can make it over steep climbs, GP de Plouay favours riders like Lizzie Deignan and Marianne Vos who have won the race three times and twice between them. Although Anna van der Breggen has also taken the win at Plouay in a solo break.

Favourites: Anna van der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan, Anna van der Breggen.

Outsiders: Amy Pieters, Grace Brown, Lizzy Banks.

Ceratizit Challenge by la Vuelta 2.WWT (03/09-05/09) 

The Ceratizit Madrid Challenge is usually one of the last WWT races of the season. Coinciding with the final stages of the Vuelta a España, the race — much like La Course before it —started life as a criterium around the streets of the city. In recent years, however, it has been upgraded to a three day stage race featuring a time trial, road stage and a circuit race. 

In a turn up for the sponsors, the past two editions have been won by Lisa Brennauer of Ceratizit-WNT.

Favourites: Lisa Brennauer, Lorena Wiebes, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen van Dijk.

Outsiders: Alice Barnes, Marta Cavalli, Elisa Balsamo.

Paris Roubaix 1.WWT (02/10)

Read our full Paris Roubaix Femmes 2021 Preview

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, Anna van der Breggen, 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) 

One of the few races for pure sprinters on the WWT calendar, the Tour of Chongming Island has been held in Shanghai since 2007. The race’s palmares is a who’s who of women’s sprinting, with Chloe Hosking, Jolien d’Hoore, Lorena Wiebes, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, and Kirsten Wild all having won the four-day stage race.

Favourites: Chloe Hosking, Kirsten Wild, Emma Cecille Norsgaard, Jolien d'Hoore, Lorena Wiebes.

Outsiders: Letizia Paternoster, Arlenis Sierra, Lotta Henttala.

Tour of Guangxi 1.WWT (19/10) 

One of the newest races on the WWT calendar, the Tour of Guangxi, like Chongming Island is one for the sprinters.

Guangxi is usually the final WWT race of the season, but with Ronde van Drenthe postponed this season it takes the penultimate slot, although it is unlikely to shake up the overall classification.

There aren't too many chances throughout the season for them to really stretch their legs and go flat out for a finish and with some of the early-season sprint opportunities thwarted by breakaways they will be itching to launch the burners and round off the season in style.

Favourites: Chloe Hosking, Kirsten Wild, Emma Cecille Norsgaard, Jolien d'Hoore, Lorena Wiebes, Amalie Dideriksen.

Outsiders: Lotte Kopecky, Letizia Paternoster, Arlenis Sierra, Lotta Henttala.

Ronde van Drenthe 1.WWT (23/10)

The sprinters will want to make it back from China for another outing at Ronde van Drenthe just in case it comes down to a bunch kick. 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. 

Favourites: Amalie Dideriksen, Lorena Wiebes, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters, Ellen van Dijk.

Outsiders: Kirsten Wild, Lisa Klein.