Sarah Connolly’s Top Race Picks for 2017
Wondering which races to mark in your diary? Then check out these must-watch events from women’s cycling aficionado, Sarah Connolly
The season has well and truly kicked off, and if the first few races are anything to go by, we’re not going to see a repeat of the Boels Dolmans stranglehold we saw in 2016. With top riders spread across more teams, this year looks set to be a lot less predictable. Let the 2017 Women’s WorldTour firework display commence!
Ronde van Drenthe, Netherlands
Dates: 11th March 2017
One Day Classic
This is round two of the Women’s WorldTour, it’s in the Netherlands and has all sorts of mad aspects and terrain. For starters, it has a hill made of landfill that grows by a couple of metres every couple of years. It has cobbles that are literally rocks thrown off a truck into sandy soil, then driven over to flatten them. Plus, it has wide open fields where the wind tears across them, producing brutal crosswinds. To add to the excitement, you see people being pushed into the gutter, there are lots of attacks and it has some crazy corners at the finish. It’s not the biggest named race, but you can watch it live on a Dutch stream which is amazing. It’s always really exciting and the Dutch riders come out in force for it.
Dates: 17th – 21st May
One of the problems with the women’s calendar is that we lost a lot of races in France, Italy and Spain, and the countries where we’ve seen an increase in races – the Netherlands and the UK – don’t give us mountains. That’s why I love this one. Because the race is in the Basque Pyrenees, it has serious climbs, it’s always terrible weather, the scenery is stunning and the last day is going to be streamed live on Basque TV on a stream that’s open to the world. Bravo!
Women’s Tour, UK
Dates: 7th – 11th June
This is a spectacular race with Olympic-level crowds and aggressive racing. Even better, it’s here in the UK, you can watch the highlights in the evening on ITV4, and by going to the race you are definitely making a difference. Why? Because every time the sponsors see the crowds at the side of the road they will be really impressed.
When Sweetspot set out to create the Women’s Tour they were told that no-one is interested in women’s sports and there’s never been a standalone women’s sporting event. By going to the event you are part of cycling history in the UK and sporting history in terms of women’s sports.