Elisa Longo Borghini has labelled Lizzie Deignan as the rider to beat during the upcoming OVO Energy Women’s Tour of Britain cycle race.
The race is the fourth of five stages of the world tour and will start and finish in Chesterfield - taking in Wirksworth, Crich, South Wingfield, Tibshelf, Staveley and Wingerworth in a testing 123km course.
Spectators will witness a star-studded field of riders take to their saddles around the county on Saturday - starting outside the Chesterfield Borough Council’s building on Rose Hill at 10.15am.
And Borghini, who is a previous Olympic bronze medalist and currently ranked second in the world, she will have to defeat Deignan if she is to take the honours.
“I’m very excited for the Women’s Tour. It’s one of the most important stage races on our calendar,” she said.
“I have been a rider in the Chesterfield area, but never as tourist. And this year I’m not yet a tourist.
“Unfortunately I haven’t had chance to look at the stage in detail as yet.
“Closer to the race, the staff prepare a full detailed presentation with the climbs and the crucial points before the team, but I haven’t yet received it.
“It’s too early. It’s a hard stage because in this tour all the stages are challenging and full of points where you can attack and surprise the opponents.
“Lizzie Deignan will be the one to beat. We are racing on her homesoil and she will be well prepared for this event.”
Last year saw fans line the streets as Lizzie Deignan made her decisive move into the yellow jersey and organisers are expecting a similar scale of interest again leading up to the finish line on Central Pavement.
Race director Mick Bennett said: “We are delighted to be returning to Chesterfield after the highly successful finish there last year, and have worked closely with Derbyshire County Council and Chesterfield Borough Council to make this year’s event a success. Coming on a Saturday with the start and finish both in Chesterfield we are preparing for a bumper crowd.
“Stage Four in Chesterfield and Derbyshire is looking set to be the deciding point of the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour. It is a tough, very rolling stage with lots of climbing throughout that should favour the riders looking to break away and gain time on their rivals.
“Coming after three hard stages of racing, it will be a real test for anyone who has intentions on winning the OVO Energy Green Jersey. Following the Derbyshire stage there is just the final day of racing in central London, so it is likely that whoever is leading following the stage finish in Chesterfield will hold on to win the overall OVO Energy Women’s Tour.”
All three former tour champions Lizzie Deignan, Lisa Brennauer and Marianne Vos are all set to compete in stage four.
The tour begins on June 7 in Daventry and goes to Stoke-on-Trent, Leamington Spa before Chesterfield, finishing in London on June 11.