The OVO Energy Women’s Tour begins in Suffolk on Wednesday – so we thought we’d hear what the best riders in the world had to say about Britain’s most prestigious stage race.

Defending champion Kasia Niewiadoma, 2015 winner Lisa Brennauer, reigning UCI Road World Champion Chantal Blaak, home favourite Dani Rowe and Cervélo-Bigla’s rising star Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig joined us at our Race HQ in Suffolk to share their thoughts ahead of the five-day event.

📽 OVO Energy Women's Tour pre-race press conference

🗨 Hear what the world's best riders have to say in our pre-race press conference#OVOWT #UCIWWT

Posted by The Women's Tour on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Here’s what the panel of champions had to say:

Kasia Niewiadoma, Canyon//SRAM, defending OVO Energy Women’s Tour champion

“I feel like the race is much harder this year than last year’s edition. There are lots of different opportunities for riders to go away in a breakaway. I think it’s going to be super interesting because you can’t say ‘this stage is for sprinters’ or ‘this one is for climbers’. Everyone has an equal chance to win. I think it’s going to be a really aggressive race, which is what we are all looking for. 

“Last year was very special for me because I didn’t expect to win before I came to the race. I thought I was going to suffer because I heard it’s always super tough.”

Cecilie Uttrup Luwdig, Cérvelo-Bigla, Danish time trial champion

“I’m really looking forward to this race – it’s become one of my favourites. It’s one of the best organised races. We really feel appreciated here and also I think it’s really cool that we have the equal prize fund [with the OVO Energy Tour of Britain] in 2018. This shows that women’s cycling is moving in the right direction and that the OVO Women’s Tour is showing the way for other race organisers.

“It’s really cool that the UK fans are so passionate about women’s cycling and not only men’s cycling. It’s also special here with the school children ad how the race involves the local communities. We love that people are out cheering for us. 

“It’s great to be back – it was my first year here in 2017. It’s nice to return and I think the course looks really hard. It’ll be fun and I hope to see some good fireworks on the climbs.”

Lisa Brennaeur, Wiggle HIGH5, 2015 OVO Energy Women’s Tour champion

“I think it’s a race that gives opportunities for different kinds of riders. When this race started in 2014 it was exciting but in the end it all came back down to bunch sprints. The year after the last two stages were hillier, and then when we went to the Peak District for the first time last year it was a big shock for many of us.

“The race has become harder and harder each year, but also it has been more exciting for us and the fans.”

Dani Rowe, WoawDeals Pro Cycling, London 2012 Olympic champion

“I love racing in the UK, it’s always tough, the roads are hard. In Europe the races can be quite fast rolling roads but in the UK they’re tough, so I think we’ll be pretty tired in 5 days time.”

Chantal Blaak, Boels Dolmans, reigning UCI Road World Champion

“I ended my spring with a really good feeling, and then had a break followed by a good block of training. Now I’m wondering where my form is standing. I’m very motivated; I’m looking forward to racing here and seeing how my legs are.”

Inspired by the OVO Energy Women’s Tour? Entries for this year’s Tour Ride sportive, which features many of the roads used during Stage One in Suffolk, are still available here