After a highly successful inaugural edition in 2014, the Aviva Women’s Tour returns from 17-21 June for five stages of racing involving some of the world’s foremost women’s road talents.
Starting in Bury St Edmunds and finishing in Hemel Hempstead, the event has once again attracted a stellar field including 2014 world championship silver and bronze medallists as well as Britain’s Olympic, Paralympic and world championship-winning talent.
Rabo Liv, the team of 2014 Women’s Tour winner and multiple world champion Marianne Vos, will line up against 15 other international and domestic squads including Lizzie Armistead’s Boels Dolmans team and Laura Trott’s Matrix Fitness squad.
But Rabo Liv will compete without Vos, who announced recently on Twitter that she is foregoing her upcoming racing commitments for a block of training. The Dutch outfit will also have to compete without the talents of current road world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, who has been sidelined with a back injury.
Lizzie Armitstead will be hungry for victory at the head of the Boels Dolmans sextet, supported by Megan Guarnier, Romy Kasper, Christine Majerus, Kasia Pawlowska and Amalie Dideriksen.
Velocio SRAM bring the talents of 2014 road race silver medallist Lisa Brennauer, while Orica AIS features Ponferrada bronze medallist Emma Johansson of Sweden.
Matrix Fitness headline with two-time Olympic champion Laura Trott, joined by her team pursuit squad-mate Elinor Barker. Road and cyclo-cross talent Helen Wyman is also in the mix, with Lucy Martin, Kim le Court and Mel Lowther completing the line-up.
Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International has confirmed a strong squad including multiple Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey and former world team pursuit champions Joanna Rowsell and Katie Archibald, all of whom are in excellent form after wins in the domestic Women’s Road Series, Matrix Fitness Grand Prix and Nocturne events.
Wiggle Honda have also finalised a formidable squad for the Tour, including two-time road world champion Giorgia Bronzini and Britain’s own Dani King. The Southampton-born rider is in great form this season, with wins at the Tour of the Reservoir and the final round of the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series.
Bigla Pro Cycling will bring former British champion Sharon Laws to the fold, while UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling brings the talents of Britain’s Hannah Barnes plus Commonwealth Games champion, New Zealander Linda Villumsen.
Also taking part is Liv Plantur, the team of two-time junior world champion Lucy Garner, winner of stage three and the Best of British Riders Jersey in 2014.
Five jerseys are on offer at the Aviva Women’s Tour.
The Aviva Yellow Jersey
The Aviva Yellow Jersey is awarded each day to the leading rider on general classification, won in 2014 by Marianne Vos.
Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey
The blue and white Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey is awarded to the rider with the most points in the sprint competition, with points on offer each day at two intermediate sprints and the finish line. The combative Vos also took this jersey in 2014.
Strava Queen of the Mountains Jersey
The Strava Queen of the Mountains Jersey is the traditional red-on-white polka-dot design, awarded at the end of each stage to the rider who has accumulated the most points on the day’s two Queen of the Mountains climbs. Sharon Laws took the polka dot jersey home in 2014.
Premier Inn Best of British Riders Jersey
The Premier Inn Best of British Riders Jersey is in patriotic red, white and blue and is awarded to the highest British rider on general classification each day. Super sprinter Lucy Garner bagged the jersey in 2014.
Sweet Spot Best Young Rider Jersey
Finally the Sweet Spot Best Young Rider Jersey is given to the leading under-23 rider on general classification, awarded last year to Mexico’s Rossella Ratto.
The 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour begins where it ended in 2014 – Bury St Edmunds, travelling 112.6 kilometres to Aldeburgh in Suffolk.
Stage two begins in Braintree, Essex, with 138 kilometres of racing before the winner is decided on Clacton-on-Sea’s Marine Parade.
Scene of the 2014 depart, the quaint market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire hosts the queen stage, with 139.2 kilometres of racing and over 1500 metres of climbing before the finish in Kettering.
The penultimate stage features 103.8 kilometres of racing in Hertfordshire, starting in Broxbourne and ending on the High Street of Stevenage.
The Tour finale begins in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with a final 102.6 kilometres of racing before the overall winner is crowned in Hemel Hempstead.
How to follow
Daily reports, results and images will appear on the British Cycling website with updates on Twitter @BritishCycling.
You can watch daily highlights of the racing each evening at 8:00pm on ITV4. British Eurosport will also be airing highlights packages each day.
You can also follow the build-up and the racing on the event Twitter feed - @thewomenstour