The 2021 edition of the Ladies Tour of Norway will be its last.
With the event set to give way to a new Scandinavian six-day race called the “Battle of the North”, this year will be the swansong for the Norwegian race.
After being canceled due to COVID-19 last year, the four-day race will go out with a bang with a new-look course, more TV coverage than ever, and a star-studded field. It is also the first WorldTour stage-race since May, when the bunch duked it out at the Vuelta a Burgos.
While there might be the small matter of the forthcoming men’s Vuelta a España, you’ll want to carve some time out of your day to watch what is likely to be a great GC and sprint contest.
This is all you need to know about the must-watch Ladies Tour of Norway.
A climber-friendly course
Since its first edition in 2014, the Ladies Tour of Norway has grown in stature within the women’s peloton. The race has largely been for punchy riders with a fast finish and Marianne Vos has dominated that corner of the peloton’s skillset, winning the last three editions.
Vos will be absent from this year’s race thanks to a new summit finish that will define the race. The Norefjell finale on stage 3 has had plenty of interest from the climbers in the bunch who are eager to test themselves on tougher terrain.
Much of the race is ridden to the south of the Norwegian capital Oslo, but the route will head northwards to incorporate this new climb.
The Norefjell ascent comes after a relatively flat day in the saddle with just one classified climb preceding it and is 11.1km long with an average gradient of 6.1 percent. Those statistics belie the true nature of the climb, which peaks at a leg-sapping maximum gradient of 18.3 percent.
The toughest sections come early in the climb, with the final three kilometers more of a drag. It provides a chance for dropped riders to reel in any attackers, but the chasers will have to be careful not to go too deep early on or they could blow up before the line.
The other three stages of this year’s Ladies Tour of Norway will continue in the tradition set out by the race over the last few years, with lumpy stages geared towards hardy sprinters.
A high-class field
While defending three-time champion Vos is skipping the race to focus on other targets in the latter part of the season, there are plenty of top riders in Norway to ensure an exciting race.
In the GC battle, Annemiek van Vleuten leads the list of overall favorites. The Dutch woman had a great Olympic Games with silver in the road race and gold in the time trial and showed that jetlag is no match for her as she returned to Europe to Clásica San Sebastián last weekend.
The Ladies Tour of Norway is one of the few races on the calendar that van Vleuten hasn’t taken a win at, and the new summit finish will be a prime chance for her to rectify that.
Van Vleuten has a strong Movistar squad behind her, including the USA’s Leah Thomas, but she is going to come across some equally strong teams determined to ensure she doesn’t ride away to victory.
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope packs a punch with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marta Cavalli. Uttrup Ludwig took her first WorldTour win earlier this year while Cavalli was one of the few able to remain remotely close to SD Worx as the Dutch team flattened the opposition at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
Lizzie Deignan heads up a strong Trek-Segafredo team that includes USA rider Tayler Wiles. Deignan will enjoy the punchy summit finish and the flatter finale will play in her favor.
Meanwhile, Canyon-SRAM brings Mikayla Harvey, who has not raced since mid-July, and Team BikeExchange has Lucy Kennedy back after her horror crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Niamh Fisher-Black will be given an opportunity to test herself as a GC rider for SD Worx, alongside Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, with many of the team’s big names missing from the race.
In the sprint contest, there is also a long list of riders who will be vying for a stage win. Fresh from her final stage win at the Giro d’Italia Donne and a top-10 finish in the Olympic road race, Coryn Rivera will lead U.S. interests at the race.
Rivera will be up against a Chloe Hosking determined to get off to a flying start following a long layoff due to illness. Hosking hasn’t raced since Gent-Wevelgem in March so it’s unclear how her race sharpness will be, but she’s been putting in the time at altitude of late.
Other riders to watch out for in the hunt for stages include Elena Cecchini (SD Worx), Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Sofia Betizzolo (Liv Racing), Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange), Sheyla Gutierrez (Movistar), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM).
How to watch it
There will be live coverage of each stages, featuring between 90 and 120 minutes of broadcast – a large portion of which will be the racing itself.
Norwegian and Dutch viewers will be able to catch the race on TV2 Norway and NOS respectively, and others in Europe will be able to catch it on Eurosport. Meanwhile, the USA and the rest of the world will be able to watch the race on GCN+.
The stages are scheduled to finish around 17:40 local time at the earliest, which is 12:40 EST and 10:40 MST.
Those with access to GCN+ will also be able to watch a highlights package or the full coverage at a later time.