Women’s pro cycling took a leap forward in 2016 with the introduction of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. This collection of 17 races that kicked off with the Strade Bianche represents the absolute pinnacle of competition for women’s pro cycling. Strava has supported the competition for the orange polka dot QOM jersey at the Women’s Tour since its inception in 2014. These athletes embody what it means to strive, racing through the heart of the cycling-crazed UK in front of crowds that rival a men’s UCI event. The spirited atmosphere and challenging route have made the Women’s Tour a favorite for the racers, too.
“I think it’s now my favourite race of the year, I’ve done it for three years and it’s great to see the popularity of it increasing. The crowds were amazing, which definitely helped. I’ve never had to sign my signature as much as I have during this tour.” - Katie Hall
Stage 1, Southwold to Norwich saw ParkHotel valkenburg’s, Ilona Hoeksma took the orange polka dot jersey, getting to the finish line first on both QOMs. That success was short-lived however, with Katie Hall showing her dominance on the climbs the next day and throughout the remainder of the tour.
“I’m not a climber, I’m more of a sprinter. It was a small hill, so we gave it a shot. We’ll try to defend it tomorrow. I will try, but when it’s too steep uphill, I’ll probably lose it.” - Ilona Hoeksma
Stage 2, Atherstone to Stratford-Upon-Avon, was a stark reminder of a typical British summer’s day. Despite the conditions this was a fast stage, with lots of attacking, no rider more so than Ale Cipollini‘s Emilia Fahlin.
Stage 2 was where Katie Hall got to work. She wanted the QOM jersey and it showed. She crossed the line first on the Burton Dassett climb, which was enough for her to take the overall lead in the QOM competition. She never looked back.
On the Burton Dassett climb: “Everyone was stuck behind, if you didn’t get into a good position, you had no chance.” - Katie Hall
Stage 3, Ashbourne to Chesterfield, delivered an enthralling stage. The Peak District, famed for its short sharp climbs, played a pivotal role in this crucial stage. QOM 1 took the riders up the punishing Bank Hill Road. It was here that a group lead by Katie Hall broke away from the peloton. This proved to be a game changing moment for the overall QOM and GC placings.
Stage 4, Nottingham to Stoke-on-Trent and Stage 5, Northampton to Kettering, followed much the same format as stages 2 and 3. Katie Hall raced up the climbs and made the orange polka dots her own.
Lizzie Armitstead took the overall win, roared on throughout by her home crowd and Katie Hall took home the Queen of the Mountains jersey, which was exactly what she came for.
“I had the climbers jersey a couple of times last year, so it was amazing to finally get it.” - Katie Hall
“The finale was just crazy. It was whoever had the most guts.” - Tiffany Cromwell
“My teammates say, ‘Lizzie, why is it so popular here?’ and I don‘t really know the answer, but events like this certainly help keep the ball rolling.” - Lizzie Armitstead
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Katie Hall, Dani King, Tiffany Cromwell, Emilia Fahlin, Ilona Hoeksma, Hannah Payton, Alison Tetrick, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Carlee Taylor, Doris Schweizer, Elisa Longo Borgini, Ellen van Dijk, Rossella Ratto, Rozanne Silk, Simona Frapporti, Sophie Coleman, Manon Lloyd, Sheyla Gutierrez, Clara Koppenburg, Jennifer George, Laura Massey