Having scored three victories, 6th and 7th on GC and 11 top ten finishes at the recent Tour Feminin l’Ardèche, Human Powered Health Cycling is back in action at the Tour de Romandie Féminin in Switzerland from September 15 through 17.
Romandie is a three-day stage race and – like the other short tours on the Women’s WorldTour calendar – the format is sure to promote dynamic, exciting and attacking racing throughout with no room for error.
Winner from a spectacular 35km solo breakaway at the Tour Feminin l’Ardèche, Barbara Malcotti, will lead the team alongside fellow GC rider Nina Buijsman. Joining the duo will be Japanese champion Eri Yonamine and Marit Raaijmakers, as well as returning riders Henrietta Christie and Jesse Vandenbulcke. Having gone through a recovery period from a broken ankle, this will be the Belgian’s first race back for the team since the Antwerp Port Epic Ladies in May.
“I’m feeling very good my morale is very high and I can believe more in myself,” says the climber. “That’s what I missed. Everyone at home was happy and I really didn’t know how many people in my town had been following me! I got lots of compliments from everywhere and it was cool. I really appreciate it.”
Malcotti is also looking forward to competing at WorldTour level in the mountains once again. The 23-year-old displayed impressive climbing legs at her national championships in June, riding alongside Elisa Longo Borghini, Gaia Realini, Marta Cavalli and Silvia Persico before finishing fifth.
“I trust in myself more but I know that the level for the next three days will be harder, so I’ll try to be focused and do my best,” she says. “At the moment I know that it will be difficult to be competitive with the best riders that will be here but with the team, we can get some good results so I want to try to pass over my limits.”
This belief is something that has changed for Malcotti throughout the 2023 season, a shift in mindset, a crucial element of the Four Pillars of Performance.
“I decided that this year I don’t want to expect too much in terms of results, because sometimes I started with big ambitions and then I betrayed my expectations. I was mentally destroyed,” she says.
“When I didn’t have expectations I performed well, so I just want to do my best and then I will see how I recovered after Ardèche and how I will feel compared to the big names.”
Malcotti and Buijsman were both top-ten finishers on the GC in France, which will give the pair a boost going into the final races of the season and looking into 2024.
“Barbara and Nina showed they are in great form at the moment with their strong performances last week in Ardèche, so we will support them here for the overall,” said Joanne Kiesanowksi, team director. “Eri and Marit also will be key players for this race as after Ardèche and a few easy recovery days, they will have a lift from the racing from last week. We’ll look for them for the breakaways.”
Joining the four from France are Christie and Vandenbulcke, both of whom are keen to get back into the theater of racing.
“This will be Henrietta and Jesse’s first race back in a while,” explains Kiesanowski. They will be helping the team a lot in the first half of the race with positioning for key moments and covering moves.”
The second edition of Romandie has a similar look to the first with a big mountain day sandwiched between two hilly stages.
“Stages 1 and 3 are exciting stages as it’s not only for climbers,” says Kiesanowski. “They are all category three climbs and there is not much flat to speak of. Stage 2 on the other hand is familiar to me having spent some time in Aigle. It’s a tough climb up to Torgon, but we also can’t forget the other category one climb just over halfway through the stage that will surely provide some aggressive racing for those wanting to get ahead and push it down the super long descent into Aigle.”
The final European Women’s WorldTour race of 2023 has enticed plenty of elite competitors to Switzerland. Tour de France Femmes champion Demi Vollering and teammate Marlen Reusser – both of whom live in the country – lead the line for Team SD Worx, with defending champion Ashleigh Moolman (AG Insurance – Soudal Quick Step), Lianne Lippert (Movistar Team), Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ – SUEZ), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing), Juliette Labous (Team dsm-firmenich) and the climbing Lidl-Trek duo of Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini all competing.
Let’s take a closer look at the parcours.
Tour de Romandie Féminin stage-by-stage
9/15 Stage 1 | Yverdon-les-Bains – Yverdon-les-Bains (144.1km) Hilly
The stage 1 parcours resembles a national championship course with two circuits of the Niédens hill before the final circuit which takes on a slightly tougher climb. With 21km between the last bit of climbing and the finish and not the most technical of descents, it will likely finish in a reduced group.
9/16 Stage 2 | Romont – Torgont (110.8km) Mountains
Stage 2 is where the overall will be won and lost. The Les Mosses climb midway through the day will make an initial selection before a battle for the GC on the 10.6km at 6.6% climb to Torgon. Riders will have to keep some energy in reserve and refuel on the 5km stretch through Aigle if they hope to take the win.
9/17 Stage 3 | Vernier – Nyon (131.9km) Hilly
Circuit finishers bookend the race with stage 3 looking a lot like the opening day. A twisting circuit with two category three climbs, puncheurs may well be on the attack from the outset making it a thrilling finale to a short race where there is no time to hang about and wait.
How to watch
Catch all the action from Switzerland on Eurosport/GCN+ with broadcasts starting each day from around 7:05 am CST / 14:05 CET. You can also keep up with all the team action with on-the-ground updates across social media.