Early summer is upon us and that means the fourth edition of the Women’s Tour will shortly be coming to a road near you.
The race has grown rapidly since its launch in 2014, and is now a UCI Women’s WorldTour event attracting the world’s best riders.
Included in that list is Six Day London champion from 2016 Katie Archibald, as well as fellow Six Day riders Dani King, Germans Lisa Klein and Stephanie Pohl, and Italy’s former world champion Giorgia Bronzini.
The five-day race begins on Wednesday, departing from Daventry, with Sunday’s final stage ending in London for the first time, with a 62km circuit race around the capital.
Archibald, who also finished second at Six Day Berlin and the Series Final in Mallorca, comes into the event on form having won the fourth leg of the National Women’s Road Series in Leicestershire on Sunday.
However the Scot is playing down expectations ahead of the event, with her new Team WNT outfit coming up against the best in the world.
“My expectations for the women’s tour are modest,” she said. “WNT are in our first year professional and we don’t expect to be competing in the general classification but maybe contesting in other jerseys and recognising where we can have an impact.
“What I like most about the race is the prestige it carries, not just in the UK but in cycling globally. This makes riding it feel like a privilege.”
King, however, has had rather different preparations for the race having celebrated her hen do two weekends ago.
The Cylance Pro Cycling rider, who competed at Six Day London in 2015, is part of a strong team that will hope to win a stage or two through Dutch sprinter Kirsten Wild.
And Wiggle High5 rider Bronzini, who recently won the final stage of the Women’s Tour of California, will also be hopeful of crossing the line first on a stage.
While Pohl and Klein will be riding in support of South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio for Cervelo Bigla.
But, away from the Six Day riders it will be Boels Dolmans’ British rider Lizzie Deignan who will be out to defend her title – with her stiffest competition potentially coming from inside her own team in the shape of European champion and current UCI WorldTour leader Anna van der Breggen.