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The pro road scene roared back to life this week after its short nap during the 2021 Olympics, with multiple stage races happening concurrently, as stars of the WorldTour rest their legs for the upcoming Vuelta a España.
Despite the cancelation of the Tour of Utah, there’s plenty going on this week with races in Scandinavia, Poland, and France.
Yep, you already know that the Vuelta a España is kicking off on Saturday — here’s your insider’s guide for the other races going on the week of Monday, August 9 through Sunday, August 15.
Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta Santander
August 4 – August 15
What to know: Portugal’s midsummer tour packs plenty of mountains and hills into 11 days of racing, and this race is known for fast stages and its hard, punishing route. The real story to follow here, though, is the progress of U.S. team Rally Cycling. The squad already won the race’s third stage with American Kyle Murphy.
The route: It’s a brute, even if the stages are comparatively short. There are summit/uphill finishes on stages 5, 8, and 9, plus days that have major climbs near the finish on stages 6 and 7, and then an individual time trial on stage 10.
Who to watch: Keep an eye out for another Rally Cycling stage win, as the team has seven riders in the race: Nathan Brown, Rob Britton, Ben King, Stephen Bassett, Gavin Mannion, Murphy, and Keegan Swirbul.
Tour of Poland
August 9 – August 15
What to know: The Tour of Poland returns to the schedule one year after it was site of the most horrifying recent scene in pro cycling, which happened when Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen careened into metal safety barriers at high speed, and the barriers basically exploded. Jakobsen is not back this year, however the race has reportedly replaced those old flimsy barriers with more robust ones. This year the race has attracted a smattering of stars, with a smattering of top sprinters, rouleurs, and even a few GC riders present.
The route: There’s an uphill finish on stages 2, 4, and 5, and then an individual time trial on stage 6 that is likely to determine the overall champion. The hardest stage appears to be stage 4 from Tarnow to Bukovina Resort. The 161-kilometer route finishes with a category 2 climb, then a descent, and then a steep ascent to the finish.
Who to watch: João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Jai Hindley (DSM), are the biggest GC names on the list. There are also a number of Americans to follow: Ian Garrison, Larry Warbasse, Logan Owen, Matteo Jorgenson, and Sean Bennett.
Broadcast: FloBikes.com is carrying the race in North America.
PostNord Tour of Denmark
August 10 – 14
What to know: This five-stage race is a battle of up-and-coming WorldTour talent with strong riders from continental teams from across the globe. Rouleurs and big men will excel in this race, due to the present of winds and twisting flat roads. This year you can find continental teams Rally Cycling, Team Novo Nordisk, and powerhouse Uno-X Pro Cycling mixing it up with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma, and other top squads, as well as five Danish squads. There aren’t a ton of mountains in Denmark, so the race is likely to be decided by the final individual time trial, and by the surging winds off the North Sea.
The route: Windy, flat, hilly, and windy. Did we mention the wind?
Who to watch: Mark Cavendish, Mads Pedersen, Dylan Groenewegen, and Remco Evenepoel are the biggest names. North Americans Robin Carpenter, Pier-André Coté, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam De Vos, Colin Joyce, and Nickolas Zukowsky are also in the race for Rally Cycling.
Ladies Tour of Norway
August 8 – August 15
What to know: The UCI Women’s WorldTour roars back to life after a hiatus due to the Olympics, and a smattering of top women’s racers will do battle in this hilly race. The defining feature of the Tour of Norway are the twists and turns and short hills on the route. The race is likely to be decided by stage 3, which concludes with the summit finish to Norefjell. Three-time defending champion Marianne Vos will not be in attendance this year. Sniff.
The route: This year the race takes in a section of hilly and coastal regions in southern Norway, with all stages in the 141-145-kilometer distance. There’s no individual time trial, but rather four hilly stages that include more than a few twists and turns. The race will be decided by the push up to Norefjell on stage 4. The climb is 10.5km in length with an average gradient of 5.9 percent. With such a short gradient, this race could be decided by a tactical move near the finish.
Who to watch: Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is the biggest star in attendance, with Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx), Sarah Gigante (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), Mavi Garcia (Ale-GTC-Ljubljana), and Sarah Roy (Team BikeExchange) all contenders to win as well. North Americans Leah Thomas, Alexis Ryan, Tayler Wiles, Alison Jackson, Coryn Rivera, and Kristen Faulkner also on the start list.
Tour de l’Avenir
August 13 – August 22
What to know: The proverbial Tour de France for Under-23 riders returns in 2021 after a year hiatus due to COVID-19, and the 2021 route is impressive with its array of terrain. There’s a flat prologue, a hilly stage, and a flat individual time trial, two sprint stages, and then three brutal days in the Alps, culminating with the final stage that looks like a miniature Tour de France stage. The biggest story for American fans, however, is the absence of a single U.S. rider in the race this year. Canada has a national squad with six strong riders. With this race playing such an important role in advancing young riders into the pro ranks, the absence of a U.S. team should be seen as a black mark on the country’s development infrastructure.
The route: The race opens with a prologue and then straight into a hilly stage and an individual time trial, to determine the pecking order. The real fireworks are on stages 7, 8, and 9. Stage 7 finishes up the Grand Colombier; stage 8 takes in two massive Cat 1 climbs (including the hulking Col de la Croix de Fer) before the uphill drag to Saint Jean D’Arves; and the race concludes with another huge day. First up is the HC Col de l’Iseran before the final push to Col du Petit Saint-Bernard. If these names sound familiar, they are — these are the exact same mountains ridden in the Tour de France.
Who to watch: Any winner at this race is destined to accomplish big things later in his career.