Women’s Cycling News Round-Up 14-21.05.2014

Women’s Tour in trouble already? – Wild wins in Chongming – Giro del Trentino reduced to one day – Interesting Links

Women’s Tour in trouble? Probably not

vos00cc

Marianne Vos won the FLG Women’s Tour in front of enormous crowds. (Image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

According to this week’s Cycling Weekly, the future of the Women’s Tour could already be in trouble if the 2015 edition clashes with the inaugural three-day Tour of Yorkshire. However, Guy Elliott, from organisers SweetSpot, assures Neutral Service that the committee remains flexible with regard to dates, not least of all because were the race to take place on the same dates in 2015 it would coincide with the General Election, but is absolutely inflexible in its determination that the race will take place next year.

“There is absolutely no doubt at all,” Guy told us. “The race will take place in 2015. It will be a step forward from the 2014 event.”

A clash with any other event, therefore, seems avoidable and unlikely. It seems entirely possible that, even if it did clash with another race, it might not be in trouble anyway: right up until the start of Stage 1 in Oundle there remained a doubt in the minds of all those involved with the race and everyone who has been backing the sport, no matter how much they believed it would be a resounding success: “what if nobody comes? What if it turns out that women’s cycling really doesn’t have an audience, like McQuaid and all those other dinosaurs claimed?”

Yet the Tour established itself like perhaps no other race has ever managed. The race was excellent and the spectator numbers, at the stage towns and along the parcours, were much bigger than anyone dared dream. If it does clash with the Tour of Yorkshire next year, it might turn out that it’s the men’s race that has trouble drawing a crowd.

 

Wild wins Tour and World Cup at Chongming

There are a number of fast, flat races suited to sprinters in cycling’s European homelands, but the race that suits them most of all take place many thousands of miles away at Chongming Island, a pancake-flat alluvial island in the mouth of China’s Yangtze River. Two UCI women’s races take place there every year – a three-day stage race, held in 2014 from the 14th to the 16th of May, and a one-day race that constitutes part of the World Cup which will take place on the 18th.

Kirsten Wild (image: Giant-Shimano)

Kirsten Wild (image: Giant-Shimano)

Stage 1 Strangely, when one considers how suited the race is to sprinters, Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) had until this year only managed to come second, back in 2010.

The final kilometre of the 121.6km parcours came close to chaos when riders from the Korea National Team mistook the flamme rouge for the finish, but Wild kept her head and won with one of the trademark displays of high horsepower brute force that has seen her compared to Cavendish, Cipollini and all the other great sprinters in cycling history, thus leaving no doubts that she wanted to add Chongming Island to her palmares. She also put herself in a good place overall with an advantage of 9″ following bonification, for which the Dutch rider thanked her team mates for their help at the intermediate sprints.

Roxanne Fournier, riding for the France National Team was second, Shelley Olds (Ale-Cipollini) was third; the first 85 riders received the same time of 3h05’40”.

Stage 2 Stage 2 passed without embarrassing events. Only slightly shorter than Stage 1 at 113.7km but with a slightly higher average speed of 40.41kph (as opposed to 39.3kph in Stage 1) the stage was completed in 2h48’49”; once again, Wild was unbeatable to the line, leading in a group of 77 riders. In second place and apparently feeling fresh just days after coming fourth overall at The Women’s Tour and despite her tendency to peak much later in the season was Giorgia Bronzini of Wiggle-Honda; taking third place for a second time was Shelley Olds.

Stage 3 Bronzini had identified Wild as her biggest threat and Wild will certainly have been aware that the Italian was a rider she needed to look out for, too – her second place was indication that she was after a stage win, and she got one at the end of Stage 3.

Though a much shorter stage at 80.8km, the narrow General Classification time gaps between so many riders meant that the peloton pounced upon and quickly finished off anything that even looked as it might develop into an attempted break and thus drove up the average speed to 41.52kph; fast, furious and hard-fought, this time only 44 riders finished with the same time as the winner, with the remainder finishing between 9″ and 3’07” down and eight failing to finish. Bronzini had started the day in third place overall behind Wild and Olds with a disadvantage of 23″; because she finished the stage with them, her stage victory did not alter this situation dramatically – Wild, whose team worked hard and found her a few more bonus seconds along the way (perhaps too hard? Had they have conserved energy, might their leader have enjoyed a lead-out that could have given her a third stage win?), stayed on top with an overall time of 7h50’37”. Olds was second at +18″, Bronzini was third at +22″.

Wild also won the Points competition she’d led since the first stage, with 59 to Olds’ 42 and Bronzini’s 32. Her win in the General Classification was her 100th victory on the road and her tenth GC victory.

Tour of Chongming Island Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) 7h50’37”
2 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) +18″
3 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) +22″
4 Roxane FOURNIER (France NT) +32″
5 Barbara GUARISCHI (Ale-Cipollini) +34″
6 Elena CECCHINI (Estado de Mexico-Faren) +34″
7 Charlotte BECKER (Wiggle-Honda) +35″
8 Emilie MOBERG (Hitec Products) +36″
9 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (Ale-Cipollini) +37″
10 Annalisa CUCINOTTA (Servetto-Footon) +38″
Full results

ElenaCecchini

Estado de Mexico-Faren’s Elena Cecchini has been finishing top ten all season, and was second at the Chongming Island World Cup – definitely a rider to watch this year (image: Neutral Service CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tour of Chongming Island World Cup

With those two stage wins, a General Classification and a parcours so suited to her strengths, Wild was the obvious favourite for the World Cup round on the 18th of May, too. She did not disappoint: although a good few of her main rivals were not present due to the logistics and sheer expense of getting a team to China and back again, she nevertheless faced a strong and competitive field that ensured her victory could most certainly not be described as an easy one.

In a textbook example of how to control a race, Giant-Shimano maintained a tight grip on proceedings right from the start with Marijn de Vries, Julia Soek, Sara Mustonen and Willeke Knol making sure they were on the case of every attempted break. Knol crashed 2.5km from the finish, but by that time the team had got the race set up exactly how they wanted it with Wild established at the front of the pack, where all she needed to do was what she does best – generate more power than anyone else and accelerate to the line.

Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico-Faren) was second with Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) filling out the podium in third place. The first 67 riders to finish received the same time as Wild, 3h16’44”.

Wild, 13th in the World Cup ranking prior to the race, rose to seventh afterwards with 186 points. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) was not at Chongming Island but remains at the top of the leadership board with 420 points; second-placed Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) has 260 while Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) is third with 238.

Tour of Chongming Island World Cup Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) 3h16’44”
2 Elena CECCHINI (Estado de Mexico-Faren) ST
3 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) ST
4 Emilie MOBERG (Hitec Products) ST
5 Melissa HOSKINS (Australia NT) ST
6 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) ST
7 Charlotte BECKER (Wiggle-Honda) ST
8 Anna TREVISI (Estado de Mexico-Faren) ST
9 Annalisa CUCINOTTA (Servetto-Footon) ST
10 Cecilie Gotaas JOHNSEN (Hitec Products) ST
Full results and ranking

 

Giro del Trentino reduced to one day

So soon after the incredible success of the Women’s Tour, it’s tempting and easy to think that the future of women’s cycling is now secure and glorious. The sad news that the Giro del Trentino – reduced last year from three days to two – will consist this year of just one day comes as a reminder that although the sport has turned a corner towards that future it’s not there yet, and we all still have work to do in spreading news to attract new fans and showing sponsors that we appreciate their backing.

The organising committee has been warning for some time that the race has been undergoing financial difficulties, with commercial sponsors either pulling out or reducing the funds they’re willing to put into the race, while local authorities are also feeling the pinch and have had to scale back their support. Whether or not the race would even go ahead this year looked in doubt; the organisers’ decision to change from a 2.1 to 1.1 event is a hopeful sign that it will weather the storm and return to its previous status in coming years.

The 21st Giro del Trentino will take place on the 21st of June; the official website is here.

Interesting Links

Celebrating Alfonsina Strada (The Guardian)

Shalini Zabaneh wins fifth Women’s Cross Country title (Breaking Belize News)