Women’s cycling fans have two of the sport’s finest races to look forward to this Sunday, and being very different events there’s plenty to appeal to everyone. We’ll have reports and results as soon as possible after the races.
Gent-Wevelgem, which is in its third edition and has UCI 1.2 status for the first time this year, is very much one for the sprinters, taking place in Flanders where the race will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Being a Flemish race, there are of course a few short but very tough cobbled climbs: Kemmelberg (where more than 120,000 people died in the conflict) and Monteberg both appear twice and hit a maximum gradient of 23% and 11% respectively; Baneberg, climbed once, reaches 20%. However, with the final ascent – Monteberg, 79.4km – coming almost 36km before the end of the race, there’s ample opportunity for the sprinters to get back to the front of the race ready to take control over the final sections.
Teams taking part are Lotto-Belisol, Topsport Vlaanderen-Pro Duo, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, Bigla, Rabo-Liv, Boels-Dolmans, Hitec Products, Firefighters Upsala CK, Wiggle-Honda (registered in the UK), Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team, Rytger, Autoglas Wetteren, Water Land en Dijk, WV Breda-Ladiesteam, Jan Van Arckel, Endura Lady Force, Team Féminin Région Centre, Swaboladies, Koga, Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa (from the UK), Isorex, Keukens Redant and De Sprinters Malderen, along with National Selections from the USA and the Netherlands – with the latter being led by 2013 winner Kirsten Wild.
Gent-Wevelgem technical guide.
The Trofeo Binda is a race famous for a parcours that makes it impossible to predict a most likely winner – it offers such a well-balanced mixture of different terrains that it can be won by a sprinter, a climber or an all-rounder, either with a solo effort or from a group. The one thing that’s certain is that as the second round of the World Cup, it’ll be hotly contested.
The route is in three sections, beginning with a 17.6km stretch from Laveno Mombello to Cittiglio. The second section is a 37.7km loop through the Lombardy countryside back to Cittiglio, with two intermediate sprints and some tough climbing on the way. The third section is a 17.1km circuit starting and ending at Cittiglio which must be completed five times to bring the total distance up to 123.7km. With the steep climb to Orino on each lap, this tends to be where the group from which the winner will be selected forms.
Although nobody can choose with any reasonable chance of being right any one rider as a favourite, it’s always possible to list a group of riders whose recent performances suggest they’re likely to do well. One rider who has to be on everyone’s list this year is British Road Race Champion Lizzie Armitstead. Lizzie has been at the top of her game for a few years and, this year, has already shown evidence that she’s found her best form to date, riding well at the Tour of Qatar, coming third at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Molecaten 8 and winning Tielt-Winge and the Ronde van Drenthe. She’s also a handy rider in the hills, as well as being a lightning-quick sprinter, which seems to perfect combination for this race – but it really is one of the hardest to predict.