Some of the greatest teams and riders on the planet were out on the roads to compete for victory in the three-day Ford RideLondon Classique, which got in motion on Friday 26 May with a thrilling Stage One in Essex – catch up on all the action below.
Stage One winners
To see the full results from the first stage of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique, including results for the Queen of the Mountains and sprint classifications, click here.
Kool clinches the crown!
Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) cruises to the Finish Line first, securing her a strong Stage One win in Colchester!
Dygert digs deep
We now have 16 riders at the front as we enter the decisive final 5km on wider roads. Dygert has entered the mix for the Stage One win, having been so close to sealing victories many times already this month. Is today her day?
The peloton sits 26 seconds behind the leaders, but that may change significantly if tactical considerations come into play!
Small roads, big goals
We're back onto the narrow roads again, with 14 riders now leading the race by a few seconds. Some of the world's best riders are among the leaders, but the groups may well reunite as we enter the closing kilometres.
And just as the riders are gaining strength, so too are the challenging crosswinds!
Third Queen of the Mountains results
With 30km to go we've just hit our final climb of the day – and the riders have been met with tremendous crowds in the tiny village of Dedham.
Here are the results of the third Queen of the Mountains effort at Castle Hill:
1. Jessica Finney (AWOL O'Shea)
2. Soraya Paladin (Canyon//SRAM Racing)
3. Nicole Frain (Parkhotel Valkenburg)
It's becoming a frantic, fiery race as we see some attacks at the front of the race! The peloton is also now fragmented, with Trek-Segafredo leading as the wind whips across the road.
Deignan seeks dominance
British cycling superstar and Ford RideLondon Classique debutante Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) has started to attack the race with 40km remaining, having just pushed out to the front for a while.
Ahead of this year's three-day showdown, Deignan took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of her team bus – check it out below.
Second Queen of the Mountains results
The breakaway has just been caught by a fragmented peloton – so it’s safe to say the tempo of the race has risen!
Meanwhile, the results of the second Queen of the Mountains point at Warmingford have been confirmed:
1. Hanna Johansson (Torelli)
2. Francesca Morgans-Slader (AWOL O’Shea)
3. Danielle Shrosbree (DAS-Handsling))
Now on a fast but narrow road, the bunch remains together – but only just.
Racing to repeat the win?
Former British Champion Anna Henderson stands out from the peloton in her yellow and black Team Jumbo-Visma jersey. Henderson was our Queen of the Mountains victor in 2022 – can she defend the title this year?
Gearing up for the next climb
We’re now well over halfway through Stage One and the peloton has allowed the three leading riders to extend their advantage to more than two minutes.
The next target for tasty points will be the second Queen of the Mountains contest at Sandy Hill, Warmingford, which comes with 49km remaining.
Flying through Finchingfield
Kool, calm and collected?
Just over 80km remain and Team DSM is taking control at the front of the peloton – but who are they riding for? Charlotte Kool is the team's sprinter, but can she win on the uphill finish in Colchester? Or are they riding for former British Champion, Pfeiffer Georgi?
Two minutes ahead of the peloton and just through the beautiful village of Finchingfield, we now have three riders out in the lead: Shrosbree, Johansson and Morgans-Slader.
Balsamo is out
After a second crash, former World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) has abandoned the race.
Meanwhile, following a short climb, Shrosbree has dropped Souren and is now 70 seconds behind the leading duo. The peloton are two minutes and 40 seconds behind the leaders.
Shrosbree starts to shine
With 112km to go, another chaser, Danni Shrosbree (DAS-Handsling) has caught Souren. They are over two minutes behind our two leaders, with the peloton a further 20 seconds behind them.
A formidable rider, Shrosbree has been racing in Europe this season and was just off the front at last year’s Women’s Tour too.
First Queen of the Mountains results
The results of today's first Queen of the Mountains contest, located at Seawards End, are in:
1. Hanna Johansson (Torelli)
2. Francesca Morgans-Slader (AWOL O’Shea)
3. Scarlett Souren (Parkhotel-Valkenburg)
Bridging the gap
The tight-knit peloton riding over picturesque Audley End House Bridge, just past Saffron Walden.
Dialling it in for Stage One
Fast moves at the front
Morgans-Slader and Johansson now have a comfortable advantage of 90 seconds on the peloton – and our other riders seem happy with that for now.
A lone chaser, Scarlett Souren (Parkhotel-Valkenburg), is making headway off the front of the peloton, but she is still more than a minute behind our current leaders.
Making a break
A couple of kilometres in and two riders have broken free to ride ahead of the peloton – Francesca Morgans-Slader (AWOL O’Shea) and Hanna Johansson (Coop-Hitec Products). They currently have a lead of 27 seconds, but the peloton is still active behind...
Who's who at this year's race
Stage One is underway
And we are rolling! Before the racing gets underway, we have 3.3km of neutralised riding before a 146.4km race to our Stage One finale in Colchester.
The riders will loop west before they take on their first intermediate sprint back here in Saffron Walden at 27.4km. There’s another intermediate sprint with 22.7km to go – but we have three Queen of the Mountains contests to enjoy before then!
Top-tier cycling talent
This year, 19 of the greatest cycling teams are here with us for the Ford RideLondon Classique, featuring some of the finest riders on the planet – 108 in total. Big names include 2021 World Champion and current Italian Champion Elisa Balsamo, who placed second here last year, Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ), who was fifth here overall in 2022, and Team DSM’s Charlotte Kool, who has proved herself as one of the fastest sprinters in the sport this year.
We also have an excellent array of British riders, including former National Champions Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson, the current National Champion Alice Towers and our former World Champion Lizzie Deignan, who is racing in the UK for the first time since 2021. We caught up with Lizzie earlier in the week – find out what she had to say here.
Eyes on the prize
Good morning from the Ford RideLondon Classique!
Welcome to the first day of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique, Britain’s only UCI Women’s WorldTour race this year.
Today’s opening stage takes place in the north of Essex, rolling out from Saffron Walden at 11:00 and finishing in historic Colchester – famous for being the Roman capital of England. The stage covers 149.7km and includes two intermediate sprints and three Queen of the Mountains climbs.
The sun is beaming, there isn't a cloud in sight and even the slight wind is unlikely to affect what is set to be a fiercely-fought race.
To see which teams and riders are out on the course this year, click here.
Stage One of the Ford RideLondon Classique
- Date: Friday 26 May 2023
- Start: 11:00, King Street, Saffron Walden
- Finish: Between 14:30 and 15:00, High Street, Colchester
- Distance: 149.7km
- To view and download the GPX file of the Stage One route, click here.
- To see the full timings for Stage One, click here.
Stage overview from Race Director Scott Sunderland
Starting in Saffron Walden, the peloton will head southwest on a loop over undulating roads before returning to Saffron Walden for the first sprint of the race on Hill Street. This will be the first of three sprints (including the finish) in Stage One, contributing valuable bonus seconds and points for the overall race and Sprints classification.
The stage then follows the northern Essex boundary, coursing through some beautiful scenery. However, the terrain is constantly up and down with twists and turns and very few flat sections – some climbs are tough, others less so. The Queen of the Mountains (QoM) category will also spice up this stage, with three QoM sprints all having bonus seconds and QoM points for the overall race and climbing classifications.
As the riders contest the final intermediate sprint of the day in Mistley, which sits on the banks of the River Stour, they will have only 25km ahead of them. It’s here that the terrain changes to flat, fast and open roads which could be marked by strong winds for the riders to contend with – and it’s possibly here that echelons will form as they race towards Colchester. The day’s efforts culminate in the slightly uphill finish on High Street in front of Colchester Castle.
This is a stage for one-day classic specialists and strong sprinters, so expect those riders to come to the fore.
Race Director of the Ford RideLondon Classique
There will be two sprints during Stage One:
- Hill Street, Saffron Walden (predicted time: 11:40 to 11:50)
- Mistley (predicted time: 14:00 to 14:20)
Queen of the Mountains Classification
Queen of the Mountains points will be available three times during Stage One:
- Walden Road, Sewards End (predicted time: 11:48 to 11:53)
- Sandy Hill, Wormingford (predicted time: 13:23 to 13:38)
- Castle Hill, Dedham (predicted time: 13:49 to 14:07)
Places of note and where to watch
After they roll out from the Start Line in Saffron Walden, the riders will go on to cover many beautiful parts of Essex over the course of their Stage One battle. Click below to find out more about the best viewing spots and notable locations dotted along the race route – and see the many points of interest to enjoy at the Start and Finish venues of the stage.
- Saffron Walden is a picturesque medieval market town in north-west Essex. It was known simply as Walden until around 1500, when Saffron was added to the name due to the saffron crocus trade that started in the town in the 16th century, as the plant found soil conditions there favourable. On the outskirts of Saffron Walden is Audley End House, built in the 17th century and once one of the largest mansions in the country. The town is a great place to watch the opening of Stage One, with the roll-out and rider presentations taking place on King Street before the peloton returns to the town 30K later. At this point, the first sprint points of the race will be up for grabs on Hill Street.
King Street (11:00)
Hill Street – sprint one (11:43 to 11:48)
- Audley End is one of the finest examples of a Jacobean house in the whole of England. This early 17th century home, now managed by English Heritage, is one-third of its original size but still one of the country’s most magnificent stately homes.
- This 16th century Cricketers pub in Clavering is famous for being the home where celebrity chef Jamie Oliver grew up. Oliver’s parents Trevor and Sally owned the pub from 1976 to 2020 and it is where he discovered his love for cooking.
11:26 to 11:29
- One of Essex’s most picturesque villages, Finchingfield is not only is it known for its beautiful views but also as the home and burial place of Dodie Smith, whose books include The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956). She lived in The Barretts at Howe Street, a hamlet in the parish about 1.5 miles (2.4 K) from the village. Huge crowds headed to the beautiful village to welcome the Tour de France in 2014 and Stage Two of the Classique passed through it in 2022.
11:43 to 11:48
- Sible Hedingham is a picturesque village that sits close to the border with Suffolk, with Norman-built Hedingham Castle on its outskirts. The castle is Grade I listed and arguably the best preserved Norman keep in Europe.
12:50 to 13:01
- Halstead is a traditional market down close to the Suffolk border, famous for being the birthplace of the family textile firm Courtald, founded by Samuel Courtald. Later generations of the family became patrons of the arts and philanthropists including his great-nephew, also Samuel Courtald, who founded the Courtald Institute of Art in central London. One of the textile mills still exists in the town to this day.
12:58 to 13:11
- Earls Colne is a beautiful village nestling in the Colne Valley and named after the Earls of Oxford and the River Colne which flows through the valley below. The village includes the 14th century St Andrew’s Church and many 17th and 18th century homes.
13:06 to 13:19
- The route passes through the beautiful Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around the River Stour. It is commonly known as Constable Country as it was made famous by the paintings of the English romantic painter John Constable. Villages in the Dedham Vale including Little Horkesley, Boxted and Dedham all feature on the route. Two of the stage’s three Queen of the Mountain climbs are in the Dedham Vale: Sandy Hill in Wormingford and Castle Hill in Dedham.
Sandy Hill, Wormingford – QoM two (13:23 to 13:38)
Little Horkesley (13:29 to 13:44)
Boxted (13:38 to 13:55)
Dedham (13:48 to 14:06)
Castle Hill, Dedham – QoM three (13:49 to 14:07)
- A quay-side village on the Stour Estuary, Mistley is the village where Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, was reputed to have lived in the 17th century, according to legend. Mistley is the location of the second sprint of the stage.
14:01 to 14:20
- The former capital of England and Britain’s first city, Colchester was the Roman capital of Britain and still has plenty of evidence of its Roman history. This includes the city walls, which are the oldest in Britain and were built after Boudicca’s famous uprising in about AD 60. The most striking landmark in the city today is Colchester Castle, a grand Norman castle, built more than a millennia after the Romans. Today, the castle is home to a popular history museum, which is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Colchester is one of Britain’s newest cities, having been awarded the status in 2022.
14:33 to 14:56