The second Tour of Scandinavia falls at an awkward time, post-World Championships, due to the Super Worlds this year, but the racing will absolutely still be worth watching. Last year saw four stage wins by the G.O.A.T., Marianne Vos, a fantastic effort by Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to take the queen stage, and Alexandra Manly’s first WorldTour victory.
This year offers a bit of terrain for everyone, with the same climb that Uttrup Ludwig won the race on in 2022 featuring early in the race on stage 2, a few sprint-friendly stages, some breakaway chances, and even a short time trial on the penultimate day.
Technically the race has been running since 2014 as the Ladies Tour of Norway, but after the 2021 edition, the race organizers introduced a change that would see their event expand to Denmark and Sweden. In its second edition in its expanded format, the Tour of Scandinavia will start in Norway with three stages before moving on to Denmark for the final two.
It is also the second-to-last race for former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, who will end her illustrious career at the Simac Ladies Tour in September. She will line up alongside the defending champion to fight for what might be her final GC jersey.
The Tour of Scandinavia kicks off Wednesday, August 23rd in Mysen, Norway. The race consists of five stages, the first three in Norway and the final two in Denmark.
Live coverage can be found on GCN+ at 16:00 CEST for stages 1, 2 and 4, 13:00 for stage 3 and 12:30 for the final stage on Sunday.
Stage 1: Wednesday, August 23 – Mysen to Halden (124.6 km)
The first stage isn’t anything too hectic to start with; the 124.6 km road stage finishes with two local circuits in Halden. The circuits include one small climb that should make the finish a little more interesting.
The way she was riding at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, look to Lorena Wiebes to take the first stage and with it, the first leader’s jersey.
Stage 2: Thursday, August 24 – Vikersund to Norefjell (150.5 km)
The second stage is the “queen stage,” finishing after a 9 km-long ascent, it’s the longest stage in the race at 150.5 km.
The roads up to the climb offer ample opportunities for riders to get away before the base of the ascent, but the action will all come to a head on the climb to Norefjell Ski and Spa as it did in the 2022 edition when Uttrup Ludwig and Liane Lippert battled it out for overall victory.
As the Simac Ladies Tour usually does not include any climbs over five km long, this will be the last time we see Van Vleuten in action on her favourite terrain. As such, Uttrup Ludwig will have her work cut out for her when it comes to repeating success in Norfjell.
Stage 3: Friday, August 25 – Kongsberg to Larvik (139.9 km)
The third stage is the most challenging of the week, despite the significant climb featuring a day prior; this one includes a Category 1 and Category 2 climb, and a short steep ascent to the finish to round out the day.
The whole stage is up and down, it will be hard for anyone whose legs aren’t feeling great to hide. Expect it to be either a small group of heavy hitters or a solo rider to ride to the line in Larvik.
Stage 4 ITT: Saturday, August 26 – Herning to Herning (16.5 km)
After hopping on a boat to Denmark the women will race a 16.5 km individual time trial around Herning on Saturday. The route is shortish at 16.5 km and flat, so it favours those who spend time on the discipline. It is also pretty technical, with some corners in the city and some sharp bends on the circuit just north of the start/finish.
Worlds silver medalist Grace Brown is on the start list for FDJ-Suez and will no doubt be eyeing the fourth stage for her first big result since winning Tour Down Under in February.
Stage 5: Sunday, August 27 – Middelfart to Haderslev (143.9 km)
The final stage in Denmark is a fun one, with a few short climbs before the race finishes with some fast and challenging circuits. The race wraps up atop a short, steep climb, but the peloton will see it three times before they are finally done for the week.
While the finale will be hard for the Dane, all eyes will be on Tour de France Femmes stage winner Emma Norsgaard to take a stage in her home country on Sunday.
With the Giro Donne, Tour de France Femmes, and World Championships behind us the start list for the Tour of Scandinavia is somewhat lacking in big names, but there are still a few star contenders lining up on Wednesday.
The General Classification
As mentioned above, Annemiek van Vleuten will be aiming for what might be her final overall victory. She is up against 2022 winner Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who showed incredible form to take third in the Worlds in Glasgow. Van Vleuten was somewhat lacking at the Tour, but her form at the Giro was good enough to take three stages and the overall so it’s not out of the question the Dutchwoman demolishes the peloton on stage 2.
Another rider coming off the Tour is Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. The AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step rider finished sixth overall there, but was sitting in the top three for a few stages. Now she is riding with a little less pressure, and if she holds onto Van Vleuten on the climb of stage 2 she can outsprint the former world champ for the stage and possibly the overall.
Canyon-SRAM’s young hopeful Ricarda Bauernfeind will get to try her hand at being the team leader for the first time; after winning a stage of the Tour she’s earned that right, so it will be interesting to see how she shoulders the responsibility in Scandinavia.
Australian fans have a lot to cheer for with Amanda Spratt and Brodie Chapman lining up for Lidl-Trek. The duo will be fun to watch, with Spratty coming off some alright form from the Tour and Chapman coming back to the peloton after illness. Earlier in the season, Chapman rode an incredible time trial at the Tour de Suisse putting her among the second-tier favourites in Scandinavia, especially if the race doesn’t break apart on the second stage.
Another Aussie who could take the whole thing – and could definitely win a stage – is Grace Brown. Fresh off second in the ITT at Worlds, Brown is favoured to win the fourth stage but is also a decent climber when she needs to be. She will be there primarily to help her FDJ-Suez teammate Uttrup Ludwig, but in the process, she could sneak into a good spot before the fourth stage and upset the GC.
Niamh Fisher-Black returns to the WorldTour peloton after the Giro Donne. The young Kiwi on SD Worx-Protime is an exceptional climber, so keep an eye on her for the second stage. She is also good at reading a race, so the third and final stages are days she could surprise.
With a few good sprinting opportunities, teams have brought some of their fast women to Scandinavia including Lorena Wiebes, currently the fastest woman on the road. Wiebes has been personally responsible for nine of SD Worx’s 54 victories this season and has contributed to most of the rest. She is nearly unbeatable on a fast finish, and the team will put everything behind her to win a few stages.
Challenging Wiebes we have Emma Norsgaard, who is coming off some great form at the Tour. She’s not exactly a pure sprinter, but the circuit finishes of stages 1 and 5 are both good for the former Danish national champion.
Canyon-SRAM will start with Soraya Paladin, Maike van der Duin, and Sarah Roy, aka a very strong stage-hunting contingent. They will definitely be backing Bauernfeind for the overall, but expect to see those distinct helmets whenever there’s a fast finish. Together these three are a force.
Still working her way back from a horrendous crash at RideLondon Classique, hopefully, we will see Elisa Balsamo up there for Lidl-Trek on a couple of stages. The former world champion hasn’t had the best of seasons, but it looked like the legs were coming around in Glasgow.
Finally, DSM-Firmenich has a strong sprinting option with Megan Jastrab, and Jayco-AlUla will line up with both Letizia Paternoster and Ruby Roseman-Gannon for any fast finishes.
Stage hunting teams
As it’s a weird time in the season and a lot of big names are taking some much-needed downtime, it’s worth mentioning a few times are lining up with what can only be stage-hunting ambitions.
Among those are Uno-X, who will no doubt be actively attempting to win a home stage in Norway. Jumbo-Visma left both their Dutch stars Marianne Vos and Reijanne Markus at home for this race, bringing three riders under 21. EF Education-Tibco-SVB, Liv Racing Teqfind, UAE Team ADQ, and Human Powered Health are three WorldTeams lining up with riders who might land themselves in the top 10 of the general classification, but will likely find the podium just out of reach.
And Fenix-Deceuninck will want to continue their success from the Tour, where they were one of the most active teams in the race at every stage.
Escape Collective Star Ratings
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Annemiek van Vleuten, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Ricarda Bauernfeind
⭐️⭐️: Grace Brown, Amanda Spratt
⭐️: Niamh Fisher-Black, Brodie Chapman
Wheel Talk Podcast picks
Gracie Elvin: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig for the overall and Lorena Wiebes for at least one stage.
Abby Mickey: Annemiek van Vleuten for the overall, and a stage for Emma Norsgaard.
Matt de Neef: Overall is Ricarda Bauernfeind and Grace Brown for stage 4.
Loren Rowney: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and a stage for Lizzie Deignan.
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