Road (Giro to add women’s race?; Drenthe Wielerweekend and victory for Armitstead; Brit riders 2nd & 3rd at Molecaten 8; Armitstead wins Omloop van het Hageland; El Salvador; Women’s Tour latest; 22 teams for the Ronde van Drenthe; 23 teams for Junior Energiewacht Tour; More coverage for the World Cup – including BBC; Links) — Track — Other Cycling
Giro next in line for a women’s race?
As predicted by Neutral Service in February, the Giro d’Italia has followed the example set by the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana and is looking into adding a women’s event to its race. The Tour’s first women’s race, La Course, will go ahead this summer while organisers of the Vuelta have suggested 2015; there is also a women-only Grand Tour, the Giro Rosa.
The Giro race would be similar to those at the Tour and Vuelta, being held shortly before the men’s final stage rather than over several stages as is the case with the Rosa, but with women’s cycling gaining popularity every year it seems very possible that all three races might be extended to multi-stage events in the future.
RCS Sport, organiser of the Giro, says it is currently looking into the feasibility of the race. One issue that may arise is that the women’s racing calendar is already crowded in May and early June, when the Giro ends: there are four international women’s races on the 31st of May, the day before the Giro’s final stage, two more on the 1st of June and another three within a week. A better option, therefore, might be for RCS to provide backing to the organisers of the Giro Rosa. Were it to do so, the Rosa could benefit from financial and technical assistance while the RCS could benefit from the Rosa’s expertise in women’s racing.
Armitstead wins Ronde van Drenthe
Having already been third at the Molecaten 8 (see below), the Wielerweekend could already be described as a success for Otley-born Lizzie Armitstead – now her splendid victory at the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe confirms that she has found very impressive form this season.
The cobbles and the wind caused problems, but attacks early on in the race came to nothing and it was not until the final lap that Rabobank-Liv/Giant’s Anna Van Der Breggen and Iris Slappendel managed to get away, with Van Der Breggen apparently looking to triumph and Slappendel ready to support her all the way. This was, for the rest of the field, a dangerous situation: the pair, both respected as tacticians as well as for their speed, soon had an advantage of a minute, and it looked as though the fates might favour them when the chase group briefly went off-course due to a mistake on the part of race officials.
However, the chasers knew that all was not lost and ramped up their efforts so as to be in a position to make the two leaders suffer on the famous VAMberg climb – once a rubbish dump (operated by Vuil Afvoer Maatschappij, a waste management company; hence the unusual name), the hill has since been turfed over and landscaped; it’s now the highest point in North Brabant and its slopes, with an average gradient of 9.7%, have been decisive in this race in the past. It was here that Boels-Dolmans’ plans moved into a second phase, with Armitstead benefiting from the assistance of none other than Ellen Van Dijk, one of the strongest riders in cycling today. When Slappendel, who had already done so much, could no longer stay at the front, Armitstead attacked and rode solo from the chase group. Van Der Breggen had no option but to go it alone, and with 10km left to ride Armitstead caught her.
For most of the remainder of the parcours, the leaders rode together and shared the workload in preparation for a final sprint but Van Der Breggen will have been well-aware that, having spent the race in a larger group, Armitstead was going to have more power left in her legs. With half a kilometre to go Armitstead forced her rival to lead for the first 300m, then whipped out from behind and overtook before powering through the final 200m and winning by 2″. Shelley Olds (Ale-Cipollini) was the first of a four-strong chase group, taking third place at +29″.
With the Ronde being the first round of the World Cup, Armitstead now leads the competition. The next round is the Trofeo Binda on the 30th of March, a race with a parcours so balanced it’s virtually impossible to predict with any reasonable chance of accuracy who will win but where Armitstead might do well; it’s followed by the Ronde van Vlaanderen on the 6th of March where she might also pick up points but will face stiff competition due to the prestige of the race. From the fourth round, La Flèche Wallonne on the 23rd of March, she will face a new challenge in the form of Marianne Vos, who makes her return at that race following a longer-than customary break after the cyclo cross season – but, just as she proved when she beat Emma Johansson at the Omloop van het Hageland (see below), Armitstead is in a better place than ever before.
1 Lizzie ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) 3h51’03”
2 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +02″
3 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) +29″
4 Chantal BLAAK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
5 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
6 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) ST
7 Ellen VAN DIJK (Boels-Dolmans) +31″
8 Emma JOHANSSON (orica-AIS) ST
9 Amy PIETERS (Giant-Shimano) +33″
10 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01’36”
British riders second and third at Molecaten Drenthe 8
Britain’s Lucy Garner and Lizzie Armitstead took second and third at the Molecaten 8 (previously known as the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo) on Thursday, finishing first from a large group that came in 8″ behind winner Chantal Blaak.
The notoriously challenging parcours, with its very tough cobbled sectors, proved selective: 47 riders got away, leaving the remaining 87 to fare as best they could – only one of those 87 riders, Mariel Borgerink, who finished 1’06” after Blaak, escaped the allotted cut-off time – 86 riders were recorded as Did Not Finish.
There were attacks almost too numerous to count in the lead group with several illustrious names including Anna Van Der Breggen, Loes Gunnewijk, Tiffany Cromwell, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Amy Pieters all trying to escape; but with so many fast riders in the group, none of the attempts lasted long – until Blaak launched her solo attack 4km from the finish and fought hard to remain ahead of the bunch all the way to the line.
1 Chantal BLAAK (Specialized-Lululemon) 4h05’49”
2 Lucy GARNER (Giant-Shimano) +08″
3 Lizzie ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) ST
4 Barbara GUARISCHI (Ale-Cipollini) ST
5 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
6 Amy PIETERS (Giant-Shimano) ST
7 Trixi WORRACK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
8 Emilia FAHLIN (Wiggle-Honda) ST
9 Chloe HOSKING (Hitec Products) ST
10 Maria Giulia CONFALONIERI (Estada de Mexico-Faren) ST
Armitstead secures British victory at Omloop van het Hageland
The Omloop van het Hageland isn’t considered to be one of the prestigious Flanders Classics, but it has everything it needs to be one: a mixture of bone-shaking cobbles, short but tough climbs and many kilometres on roads so narrow the riders have to fight hard to keep their position ensures exciting and challenging racing every year. It can also be dangerous, as was seen this year when a crash 50km into the race split the bunch and permitted a powerful group of seventeen riders to get away and rapidly gain an advantage of around a minute on the main group.
British rider Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) attacked with 26km to go, but Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv/Giant), Sofie De Vuyst (Futurumshop.nl-Zannata) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) were on her immediately. The attempt was not a failure, however – when she tried again, on the final climb, it was immediately clear that she’d made the majority of her rivals work harder than they’d have liked and only Johansson was able to give chase.
Longo Borghini made a last-ditch effort to bridge a little later but was unable, then her team mate Audrey Cordon found the strength she needed in the last kilometre and made a heroic effort that brought her very close to the two leaders but not quite close enough to challenge for the victory, so the Briton and the Swede were left to fight it out. Armitstead proved the stronger rider, pushing her front wheel over the finish line just a few centimetres ahead of Johansson.
Back in 2012, the Women’s Road Race at the Olympic Games ended in a duel between Armitstead and Marianne Vos, the most successful cyclist in the world. Johansson, who knocked Vos off the top spot in the UCI rankings some months ago and has retained the position ever since, is one of the few riders able to consistently rival and beat Vos – Armitstead’s victory, especially when it’s remembered that she was third at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last week (where Johansson was second, but both women recorded a time equal to that of winner Amy Pieters), indicates that she is likely to enjoy especially impressive form this season. This may prove to be the hardest year yet for Vos, and since women’s cycling will benefit from the spectacular races that lie ahead she’d be the first to welcome that.
She was no stranger to the podiums last season with numerous top three finishes, but this was Armitstead’s first victory since June last year when she won the National Road Race Championships. Interestingly, it was her first victory abroad since 2012, when she won that year’s edition of this race.
Omloop van het Hageland – Tielt-Winge Top Ten
1 Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) 3h15’43”
2 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
3 Audrey CORDON (Hitec Products) +4″
4 Thalita DE JONG (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
5 Sofie DE VUYST (Futurumshop.nl-Zannata) ST
6 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
7 Jessie DAAMS (Boels-Dolmans) ST
8 Amanda SPRATT (Orica-AIS) +7″
9 Katarzyna NIEWIADOMA (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +9″
10 Elisa LONGO BORGHINI (Hitec Products) +9″
GP de Oriente
US rider Mara Abbott (United Healthcare) took her first victory of the season on the 7th of March, followed by Brazilian Flavia Oliveira (Brazil national team) in second at 1’10”. Third place went to Abbott’s team mate, Kenya-born British rider Sharon Laws.
GP de Oriente Top Ten
1 Mara ABBOTT (United Healthcare) 2h48’19”
2 Flavia OLIVEIRA (Brazil NT) +1’10”
3 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) ST
4 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
5 Doris SCHWEIZER (Astana-BePink) +1’32”
6 Alena AMIALIUSIK (Astana-BePink) +1’48”
7 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) +2’36”
8 Marina LIKHANOVA (Servetto-Footon) +2’46”
9 Miranda GRIFFITHS +3’29”
10 Tetyana RIABCHENKO +3’53”
GP El Salvador
The following day brought more action, this time at the Grand Prix El Salvador – the second of the El Salvadorean races. Alena Amialiusik (Astana-BePink), who was sixth at the GP de Oriente, was first across the line and banked her second victory of the season after winning Stage 4 at the Vuelta a Costa Rica earlier this month. Olga Zabelinskaya of RusVelo was just two seconds slower for third and Mara Abbott (United Healthcare) was four seconds back for third. Sharon Laws (United Healthcare) took fourth, recording the same time as Abbott.
GP El Salvador Top Ten
1 Alena AMIALIUSIK (Astana-BePink) 2h18’50”
2 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) +2″
3 Mara ABBOTT (United Healthcare) +4″
4 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) ST
5 Doris SCHWEIZER (Astana-BePink) +30″
6 Katie HALL (United Healthcare) +34″
7 Tetyana RIABCHENKO +39″
8 Laura Camila LOZANO RAMIREZ +42″
9 Sari SAARELAINEN +45″
10 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) +1:13
Vuelta a El Salvador
On the 11th, the Vuelta a El Salvador – the third and final of the El Salvadorean races – got underway with an individual time trial prologue won by Olga Zabelinskaya of RusVelo with a time of 6.03″. Astana-BePink’s Alena Amialiusik was second at +13″ while Laws was +19″ for third place.
Prologue Top Ten
1 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) 6’03”
2 Alena AMIALIUSIK (Astana-BePink) +13″
3 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) +19″
4 Laura Camila LOZANO RAMIREZ (Colombia NT) +27″
5 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (RusVelo) +28″
6 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) ST
7 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
8 Rhae-Christie SHAW (Canada NT) +29″
9 Inga CILVINAITE (RusVelo) ST
10 Tetyana RIABCHENKO ST
Full result and GC
BePink’s Alena Amialiusik wins stage but cannot seize General Classification control from Zabelinska and trails at +13″ overall. British rider Sharon Laws is second to finish, equalling Amialiusik’s time; she is third in the GC at +19″. Flavia Oliviera of the Brazil National Team rounded off the podium, also matching the winning time.
Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Alena AMIALIUSIK (BePink) 2h56’34
2 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) ST
3 Flavia OLIVEIRA (Brazil NT) ST
4 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
5 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
6 Tetyana RIABCHENKO (Ukraine NT) +04″
7 Anna POTOKINA (Servetto Footon) ST
8 Uenia FERNANDES DA SOUZA (Brazil NT) ST
9 Dalia MUCCIOLI (BePink) ST
10 Laura Camila LOZANO RAMIREZ (Colombia NT) ST
Full result and GC
Amialiusik wins again – but with Zabelinskaya taking second and Laws third, matching her time, the top three in the General Classification remains unchanged.
Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Alena AMIALIUSIK (BePink) 3h09’28”
2 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
3 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) ST
4 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) ST
5 Flavia OLIVEIRA (Brazil NT) ST
6 Mara ABBOTT (United Healthcare) ST
7 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) ST
8 Tetyana RIABCHENKO (Ukraine NT) ST
9 Laura Camila LOZANO RAMIREZ (Colombia NT) ST
10 Katie HALL (United Healthcare) ST
Full result and GC
Women’s Tour latest
Details of fourteen participating teams can be found here (two more teams are expected to confirm participation as soon as they’re granted UK visa) – each team will consist of six riders.
Stage 1 Oundle – Northampton (7th May)
Stage 2 Hinckley – Bedford (8th May)
Stage 3 Felixstowe – Clacton (9th May)
Stage 4 Cheshunt – Welwyn Garden City (10th May)
Stage 5 Harwich – Burt St. Edmunds (11th May)
23 teams for the Junior Energiewacht Tour
Want more cycling in your life and think Junior racing is the place to find it? The Junior Energiewacht Tour is a good place to start – last year, when it was held for the first time, it was as exciting as the Elite race. This year, with no fewer than 23 teams due to take part, it ought to be even better.
National teams: Wales, England, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Belgium, Norway
Clubs: Wurttemberg, NWVG-Bike4Air, Balen, West Frisia, Girls Team Sachsen, RSC De Zuidwesthoek, HRTC Hoorn RST Racingteam, De Jonge Renner, District Zuid-West, Jan van Arckel, MeteoorAssen-Roden, RWC Ahoy
The 2013 edition was won by Amy Hill of the Wales National Team.
More coverage for the World Cup – including on the BBC
One suggestion that comes up time and time again in discussions on what needs to be done to help women’s cycling is that it needs more coverage, with filmed footage being made available online and on television.
In 2014, it’s finally going to happen. British TV company VSquared, which also produces Tour de France footage for ITV4, has been recruited to make a series of programmes which will be made available on the UCI’s Youtube channel and which will include six “feature shows” on the sport in addition to race coverage – a considerable improvement over previous coverage, which tended to offer only brief highlights. All nine rounds will be broadcast, beginning with next week’s Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe.
There has also been interest from broadcasters, with the BBC understood to have already secured rights to show the footage. It seems likely that it would be shown on the Red Button digital channel, initially at least, but will bring women’s cycling to a much wider audience than ever before.
The UCI says that the decision to recruit the TV crew was made at the last moment and that accommodating the cameras added to costs; that the organisation has been willing to meet those costs is further confirmation that things really have changed since the departure of Pat McQuaid and that new president Brian Cookson intends to follow up the promises he made to women’s cycling as part of his election campaign
Neutral Service recommends: Beyond beginnerism: building an inclusive cycling culture (Accidento Bizarro)
Emma Trott sets sights on Women’s Tour (Cycling News)
Women’s Tour “could better London 2012,” says Emma Trott (BBC)
Cherise Stander’s long and windy road to recovery (IOLSport)
More to come…
Dani King: “British cyclists have the best of everything” (Metro)
Marian University’s cycling program is building better riders – and people (VeloNews)
Rapha invites women to take part in 100km cycling challenge (Cycling Weekly)
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