The AJ Bell Women's Tour: Summary and Reflections

The AJ Bell Women's Tour: Summary and Reflections
AJ Bell Women's Tour Leaders Podium. Photo Alex Whitehead/

Demi Vollering of Team SD Work takes the overall victory of this year's Women's Tour. After her impressive time trial performance on stage 3, the Dutch rider secured the overall lead by 1:02 minutes over Juliette Labous of Team DSM. Clara Copponi of FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope rounded up the podium, finishing a further 3 seconds behind the second-place rider.

In the other jersey competitions, Nina Kessler of Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank won the Eisberg Sprint jersey by holding the lead from the first stage in Oxfordshire. Elise Chabbey of Canyon SRAM Racing proved to be the best climber of the race as she won the SKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey. The Sigma Sport points jersey was won by Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM.

The home country riders definitely made their mark on this year's race, with three riders finishing in the top ten. Alice Barnes of Canyon SRAM Racing took the honours as best British rider finishing seventh. The young Brit, Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) finished eight, and after her strong time trial performance, Joss Lowden (Drops Le Col s/b Tempur) finished in tenth place. Other British riders also had a good tour, with Anna Shackley (Team SD Work) finishing thirteenth, Abi Smith (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) in sixteenth place, and Hayley Simmonds (CAMS-Basso) finishing just outside the top 20 in 21st place. After her solo attack on stage five, Hayley Simmonds also took this year's combativity award.

This year's Women's Tour provided us with a great week of racing. It has also been extremely nice to see so many people out watching on the roads, this showcasing that many people are super interested in women's cycling. Next year's race will return to its normal schedule in the UCI racing calendar. The Women's Tour will take place between the 6th and 11th of June 2022, and Colchester will host the Grand Depart.

The Women's Tour 2021 - Jerseys Winners

After six days of hard racing,  here are the full set results for this year's jersey competitions.

AJ Bell Leader's Jersey

  1. Demi Vollering - Team SD Work (15:54:38)
  2. Juliette Labous - Team DSM (15:55:40)
  3. Clara Copponi - FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futurscope (15:55:43)

Sigma Sports Points Jersey

  1. Lorena Wiebes - Team DSM (42 pts)
  2. Chloe Hosking - Trek-Segafredo (37 pts)
  3. Sheyla Gutierrez - Movistar Team (33 pts)

Skoda Queen of the Mountains Jersey

  1. Elise Chabbey - Canyon SRAM Racing (20 pts)
  2. Ane Santestban Gonzalez - Team BikeExchange (14 pts)
  3. Demi Vollering - Team SD Work (11 pts)

Eisberg Sprints Jersey

  1. Nina Kessler - Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank (15 pts)
  2. Lorena Wiebes - Team DSM (7 pts)
  3. Hayley Simmonds - CAMS-Basso (6 pts)

Jess Finney: our eyes in the peloton

How was your first-ever Women's Tour experience?

From a personal performance perspective, it was the experience I had hoped for. I came into the race with unknown form after recovering from a big crash a few weeks before the race. I was hoping to have been able to carry some form into this race, however, this wasn’t the case. Making a tough race even tougher. After a few challenging days at the start, I was able to ride myself into it race and was able to race some of the stages. But, as I set before, the main goal was to finish the race. Whilst it was tough at times, I am really happy that I managed to achieve this goal.
In terms of the event itself, it was unique. This is my first race at this level with crowds allowed. The crowds were phenomenal, not only the starts and finishes, but there seemed to be someone every 100 meters along the entire course. It was an incredible experience to be racing against the world’s best riders and teams. We all learnt a lot about how other teams operate, and how individuals sacrifice themselves for their teammates. It was great to take part in the high-speed action, the speed is something else that you can’t experience out in training, so was really exciting to be on closed roads and have the freedom to race hard and fast.

What went well for you during this year's Women’s Tour?

I am a little disappointed with my personal performance, but I didn’t crash and I finished so that’s something to be happy with. As a team we did do really well, we learnt how to work together and support each other during the race. This is one of the few times the team has a chance to regularly ride together, let alone race together, and I think we did really well to quickly learn and adapt to ride as a professional team.

Reflecting back on the Tour, what did you learn, and what would you do differently next time?

The first thing that comes to mind is clothing. I really got that wrong on the second stage with the wet weather and paid the price. I learnt a lot from watching the other riders, about how to move up, work as a team and how to race the race. I also learnt that there are a lot of things I can do, and be very competitive with at the world tour level. However, there are also a lot of things I need to work on in order to become a rider at this level.
For next year, it’s easy to think of what to do, and that is to come into the race with better form. Also, to back myself a bit more, I think I could have done a bit more in the finishes on some stages if I had a bit more confidence.

After recovering from the Women's Tour, what will you be up to next?

This week, I have the National Criterium Championship and the National Road Race Championship. I’m hoping that riding the women’s Tour has given me some fitness back to be competitive in these races. It’s been a very good year for me already and, therefore, there isn't too much pressure on my performance and I can go and enjoy these last two races before taking a rest.

The Pillar team would like to thank Jess for taking her time to share her first-ever Women's Tour journey with us. It was great to have an in-depth insight into the Women's Pro peloton. We would like to wish Jess the best of luck for the remaining races of the 2021 season, and we look forward to seeing your progress in the sport over the coming years.

CAMS-Basso racing team. Photo Simon Wilkinson/

This year's Women's Tour provided us with some great racing. Have you been inspired to get out on your bike or to take your cycling performance to the next level? If so, Pillar can help you with your cycling journey whatever your goals might be. Click on the download links below to start your next chapter in cycling.

Pillar - Apps on Google Play
Welcome to Pillar! We’re a small UK-based team (full of real athletes) who are developing an app dedicated to all areas of cycling training. Whatever pains you can think of related to your training, we want to solve them. Pillar is still at an early stage. The first feature we’ve built is an adap…
Welcome to Pillar! We’re a small UK-based team (full of real athletes) who are developing an app dedicated to all areas of cycling training. Whatever pains you can think of related to your training, we want to solve them. Pillar is still at an early stage. The first feature we’ve built is an adap…

Featured photos:

Alex Whitehead/ - 09/10/2021 - Cycling - AJ Bell Women's Tour of Britain - Stage Six: Haverhill to Felixstowe, England - Overall general classification winner Demi Vollering of Team SD Worx on the podium with Juliette Labous of Team DSM in second and Clara Copponi of Team FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope in third

Simon Wilkinson/ - 05/10/2021 - Cycling - AJ Bell Women's Tour of Britain - Stage Two - Walsall, England - Hayley Simmonds, Emma Edwards, Jessica Finney, Natalie Grinczer, Katie Scott and Becky Storrie of CAMS Basso before the start of Stage Two