RideLondon Classic team

RideLondon Classique race director excited for racing on London roads

The 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique has announced the full routes for each of its stages with Essex towns and central London set as the arena for the women’s professional peloton.

Stage one on Friday 26 May sees the riders go 149.7km from Saffron Waldon to Colchester with stage two returning to Maldon on the Essex coast for 137.1km of tough hilly roads, where the first stage also started and finished in 2022.

The final headline stage on Sunday 28 May is an eight-lap race through some of London’s most famous roads, finishing on the Mall after 91km of racing.

All three stages are to be broadcast live on the BBC.

Stages one and two were not shown live last year, which led to the race losing its Women’s World Tour status briefly before providing contractual proof of coverage for 2023 and being reinstated on the top-level calendar of women’s cycling.

Race director Scott Sunderland said: “This year we’ve got fantastic coverage for the women’s race.

“That’s always been the objective for London Marathon Events with the RideLondon Classique, to ensure we have the best possible way forward for women’s cycling and exposure for the sport.

“Women’s racing at the moment has had a very steep growth period and I think women’s cycling is continuing to be exciting.

“I think in the UK and Holland, you see women’s teams and cyclists are doing very well in international racing and it’s because the women are treated in the same way as the men are compared to other countries.”

There are 20 teams confirmed on the start line including Trek-Segafredo, FDJ SUEZ and Team DSM, who won all three stages last year.

WINNERS: RideLondon Classique winners Team DSM at the 2022 Tour de France Femmes

The Dutch rider who dominated last year, Lorena Wiebes, won’t be on the start line however, as the team she transferred to, SD Worx, the best team in women’s cycling, are not set to take the start.

However it is still likely to feature some of the finest riders in the world including Charlotte Kool and Elisa Balsamo.

Sunderland, 56, who was a long-term professional rider himself said: “We don’t try to look at one particular person, we try to have an open race.

“Ideally what we want is to try and make it an open race for everybody, so if you come here with good legs, good form and a good team that you have every opportunity to win this event.”

Stage one is an undulating course with very few flat sections, before an unhill run to the line in Colchester.

Sunderland even expressed the possibility of echelons in the run into the city, with one-day specialists and classics riders the most likely to benefit.

Sunderland was delighted to be bringing a ‘classics’ feel to the roads of Essex where he stated how great the crowds were in 2022.

Maldon hosts the start and finish of the second stage and will provide a chance for the puncheurs to stretch their legs on a different Maldon course to last year, with the focus placed more on North Hill than Market Hill.

Sunday’s headline stage is more for the pure sprinters with the flat finish on the Mall.

“The Mall is definitely comparable to the Champs Elysees and is one of the most recognised streets in the world,” said Sunderland.

The Champs Elysees in Paris acts as the finishing point of the final stage of the Tour de France and was the starting point of last year’s Tour de France Femmes.

There should also be a tense tactical battle for bonus seconds on offer throughout the three days of racing.

Each finish and sprint point on the parcours will have bonuses available to add to rider’s general classification hopes, but this could ruin their stage win desires.

Sunderland added: “Hopefully we have riders who are aggressive and want to put on a big show for their teams, which will then turn out to be a great spectacle.

“The fans are excited about this and to be supporting women’s sport and it makes it so much easier when you’ve got a lot of appetite for it.

“I feel for this year at the RideLondon Classique that we’re so much further forward than last year and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event because I can see the changes and improvements right across the three days.”

Sunderland also works as the race director for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Flanders Classics so has experience in working on some of the sports biggest events.

He made sure to express his gratitude for volunteers working on the race and added: “It’s without a doubt that unless you have volunteers you just can’t run bike races, as you don’t have a stadium where people just fill in those roles.

“We rely heavily on the good-will and passion of our volunteers.”

All images credited to James Moultrie

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