Rally Cycling will toe the line at one of Europe’s most prestigious women’s stage races, the BeNe Ladies Tour. Starting in the Netherlands this Thursday in the southern town of Oosterhout, the team will attack the 361-kilometer race from July 19 – 22. Each stage will push the team’s skill set on narrow farm roads and over the infamous Belgian cobblestones that guarantee unpredictable racing.
With cobbled sectors and predominantly flat roads throughout the race, a roster filled with raw power will be needed for success. Rally Cycling will start Sara Bergen, Kelly Catlin, Heidi Franz, Kirsti Lay, Katherine Maine, and Emma White.
“It’s a different ball game for race conditions and tactics here in Europe,” said Kirsti Lay. “We know we are fit and strong together but it will be about embracing the style of racing over here and seeing how each day unfolds. There are a lot of strong teams here so it’s an exciting opportunity.”
After winning bronze in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics, Kirsti Lay has her eyes set on the opening prologue.
“The prologue is a great distance for my strengths at just under four km which is similar to track power that I’ve trained a lot over the years,” said Lay. “I’m excited to give that a go and start the stage race strong. We are carrying a lot of momentum coming off of BC Superweek and want to keep that going!”
The race opens with a pancake-flat four kilometer prologue in Oosterhout that will favor the sprinters as much as the time trialists. The top riders are expected to finish within seconds of each other. Stage one will then move over the border to Merelbeke, Belgium where the racers face a hilly 136 km loop outside of Ghent with six cobbled sectors that are sure to thin out the bunch.
Saturday features a double stage including a flat 98 km circuit around the Netherlands-Belgium border town of Sint-Laureins in the morning followed by a ten km individual time trial in the evening.
Historically, the road stages have finished in field sprints and the biggest time gaps are seen in the individual time trial. If the general classification is still tight, the final 113 km stage in Zelzate, Belgium with be the riders final opportunity to gain time on a technical twelve km urban circuit.
Following the race, the women will stay in Europe to race the RideLondon Classique on July 28th.
BeNe Ladies Tour Roster
Director: Ina Teutenberg
For live updates on BeNe, follow the team on Twitter.