ORICA-AIS aiming for 'Top of the Pops' at Aviva Women's Tour

Sun 14 Jun 2015

Despite only in it’s second edition, the Aviva Women’s Tour has quickly established itself as one of the biggest Tour’s on the women’s cycling circuit.

Efforts by organisers to attract sizable crowds also greatly contribute to it also being considered one of the most enjoyable races of the season. 

On the road, its likely to be one that come’s down to mere seconds with opportunities to gain bonus seconds at intermediate sprints likely to spice up the general classification battle.

ORICA-AIS has selected a tailor-made six women line up for the five-day British event that starts this Wednesday, all with a turn of speed that will prove crucial in chasing ambitions goals that exceed the one stage win and second overall performance of last year’s inaugural event.

Sport director Marin Barras provides us with another of his race previews:

You will forgive this Québécois for having ambivalent feelings about racing in the old dart. I had the opportunity to work in the UK for a couple of years, at the turn of the millennium, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience: I liked the history, the baking, the salted pork (some of the best anywhere) and the general eccentricity of the British people. And I love British music!

But 200years of British rule back home left us with a distinct chip on our shoulder and I clearly recall trying to explain to Dave Brailsford (at the time he was 2IC for British Cycling) that his ultimatum that I would coach England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games meant I would NEVER be able to return home (I had "offered" to coach the Scots, to their great delight). This dilemma was reinforced on meeting HRH Princess Anne on a couple of occasions, and upon finding out where I was from, offering: 

"You people really do not like us over there!"
"Well, it's not personal!"
“And you are still with us??”
“Just don’t tell my folks!”

I really liked her too!

So Britain (well it is only England in this case) calls us again for the second edition of the Women's Tour of Britain.

It is a five-day affair that sees us going from town to town throughout eastern England and it's a bit of the "Magical Mystery Tour", without the mind altering substances.

The Brits have thoroughly re-embraced cycling and the race is "played" in front of massively delirious and screaming crowds that choose to ignore the long term impact of tinnitus on themselves and us.

The course is a straightforward road stages affair, devoid of any major obstacles but held on pretty country roads littered with historic sights, a couple of sea side finishes and daily sprints and time bonuses that look like determining the winner. We are guaranteed screams, big stages and, of course, rain.

It is easily the loudest and most enjoyable race of the season! Glastonbury on wheels! Lizzie, Emma and Georgia towering on stacks of Marshall amps!

We take a "made to measure" band over there: Emma Johansson, Gracie Elvin, Melissa Hoskins, Sarah Roy, Chloe McConville and Alex Manly can all cut the mustard in small narrow lanes, can sprint and are prepared to bleed from their ears in order to hit the top of the charts. Myself, I'll be the "Ol codger", hanging backstage with the groupies and plotting the attack on the Billboard. 

Last season we won a stage and finished second overall so it's fair to say we aim to be "Top of the Pops" this year.

And the only lip-syncing happening will be in our race car, for the benefit of our head Roadie, Pat the Mechanic and our press agent, Taryn. 

So, Roll up, roll up for the Women's British Tour, step right this way. Coming to a big stage near you. It will be the best gig in town.

Just don’t tell my folks!

Until then,

Martin Barras


ORICA-AIS for the Aviva Women’s Tour (18 – 21 June):

Gracie Elvin
Melissa Hoskins
Emma Johansson
Alexandra Manly
Chloe McConville
Sarah Roy