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The Women's Road Racing Thread 2017

A place to discuss all things related to current professional road races. Here, you can also touch on the latest news relating to professional road racing. A doping discussion free forum.

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18 May 2017 22:08

Stage 2 now in the books, a 90km circuit around Markina-Xemein based on the awesome final stage from 2015, but with a flatter run-in unfortunately. However, it still did see some action which caused the GC to be shaken up ahead of the mountainous stages at the weekend, including some key names at the front of proceedings.

In the end, Amanda Spratt took the win for Orica, winning a two-up sprint against the home favourite Ane Santesteban, making a dramatic return after being left for dead in a hit-and-run earlier in the year. The duo opened up a gap of a little over 20 seconds which was enough to put them into the control of the GC, race leader Bastianelli then winning the sprint for 3rd ahead of Gracie Elvin and Eva Buurman. Potentially of some importance, however, was that there was a small split in the péloton that meant that there was a group at +26" and a group at +31" which could prove crucial in the long run as positioning is key - Moolman-Pasio, van Vleuten, Leleivyte, Solovey, Nosková and Garfoot were in front of the split, Gillow, Tuslaite, Paladin, Ludwig, Merino and García were caught behind. Lourdes Oyarbide followed up yesterday's finishing line crash with a final kilometre puncture; she was placed in the +31" group by the race directors, interestingly. Cauz lost another packet of time, but is still going better than Tuhai, who was in a group of four who were eliminated hors delais...
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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19 May 2017 19:37

The Bira's Stage 3 was around Antzuola, close to Bergara and Oñati, with a couple of obstacles in the middle of the stage, most notably the Alto de la Deskarga which links Markina-Xemein, host of yesterday's stage, to Durango. With a small ramp of a climb near Bergara but then an uphill false flat run-in it was perhaps the last chance for the sprinters, however hard racing on the Deskarga left us with a front group numbering just 23, and with the likes of Bastianelli, Archibald, Buurman and Elvin distanced. Also in the group of riders losing time, somewhat more surprisingly, was Rasa Leleivyte, on terrain which ought to have suited her, however with all of the other big teams present having representation in the front group, her Aromitalia-Vaiano team had little help in pursuing the leaders. Orica shifted the jersey within the team, as they moved defence into attack as groups attempted to get away, eventually succeeding in breaking the elastic with Katrin Garfoot going away solo. With Spratt and van Vleuten naturally not chasing, it was mainly down to Alé (two riders in the group) and Cervélo (three) to chase, but with some very experienced hands disrupting them. The Australian took the victory alone, with a time gap back to the bunch of just over 30" to take the leader's jersey from Spratt, Soraya Paladin winning the sprint for 2nd ahead of Annemiek, who stole a few bonus seconds away from Moolman-Pasio, who ordinarily would be thought of as the better sprinter of the two. Although a couple of riders were distanced from the chasing group towards the end, all of those you'd expect to be fighting out the GC over the weekend were present and correct - as well as the aforementioned Garfoot, Spratt, van Vleuten and Moolman-Pasio, the group contained Ludwig, Solovey, Merino, Santestebán, Gillow, Yonamine and Nosková, who is really looking assured among the big names and more than making up for the abject underperformance from Tuhai.

The GC leading into the San Miguel MTF therefore is as follows:
Garfoot
Spratt +12"
Santestebán +17"
Paladin +40"
Moolman-Pasio +44"
van Vleuten +44"
Nosková +47"
Solovey +48"
Ludwig +50"
Maes +53"

Also of those who may try something tomorrow, Gillow +53", Yonamine +53", Merino +53", Rooijakkers +1'00", Leleivyte +2'01", Tuslaite and García +2'08". Cauz is over 18 minutes back, so a million miles from her best, but at the same time, climbing is the one thing she can do, and having had such a disappointing time so far she may want to try to right some wrongs and at least show something this week.
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20 May 2017 10:03

kill this side of aralar with fire plz
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20 May 2017 20:38

As a result of it being the easier side, the time gaps weren't so herculean, although only 16 within a minute means you do have some decent gaps in the GC with Jaizkibel coming up tomorrow (from the Hondarribia side).

In the end the stage win went to Annemiek van Vleuten, winning the sprint at the summit of a group of 3 she'd been able to mark for Garfoot in the leader's jersey behind, which helped give her the strength in reserve to take it to the line. The other two in that group? Well, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, which is obviously little surprise seeing as she is the other world class elite climber in the field, and Nikola Nosková, the Czech teenager who has come from a CX background and literally only signed with BePink last week, but has looked a more than competent top level rider this week, attentive in splits, adept at placing herself and a very useful climber indeed, so she is a real prospect and may be one to watch at the Giro!

Orica's day was great for them too, as they also managed to keep Garfoot in the group of 5 that finished just 6 seconds behind the leaders, which means she defends the yellow jersey, although she was outsprinted by the others in the group - Parkhotel's Pauliena Rooijakkers outsprinting Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig from that group which also contained WNT's Hayley Simmonds - an excellent climbing performance from her - and home favourite Eider Merino who is locked in an intriguing battle with Ane Santesteban to be the best Basque rider here. Speaking of Ane, she was in the group of 6 that came in at +24", along with some of the others expected to be among the main contenders for the race - Gillow, Spratt, Solovey - along with Ann-Sophie Duyck, who is more known for her TT skills but put in an excellent showing in terrain she's not normally been prominent in today. Mavi García came in at +1'35", but Buurman and Bastianelli did pretty well time-wise to limit losses to under 2 minutes, coming in ahead of Leleivyte even.

The stage's results mean that Orica have now got an iron grip on the GC, and have in fact locked out the podium positions coming into the final stage as well as winning three stages; perhaps not as dominant as the 2014 Rabobank annihilation, with that stacked team with Vos, PFP, Anna VDB and Annemiek, but not too far off! Garfoot has a fairly commanding lead of 28" ahead of van Vleuten with Spratt a further two seconds behind; Ash Moolman is then at +34", with Nosková nudging ahead of Santesteban at +35" - so the podium is still more than open for all of those riders. Ludwig (+50), Merino (+53), Rooijakkers, Simmonds (both +1'00), Solovey (+1'06") Gillow and Duyck (both +1'11") may need a bit more time that will require something a bit more daring against a team that is likely to outpower them, but they still have the possibility if things fall into place for them.

Edit: apparently Nosková has to DNS tomorrow as she has an exam back in the Czech Republic on Monday and can't take a flight after the race.
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20 May 2017 23:28

Having looked everywhere for some good coverage of women's cycling, can I just say thank you!!! This is the best.
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21 May 2017 08:34

Apparently BePink have found a way to get Nosková home AFTER today's stage, so have bought new plane tickets for her and she WILL start.

The Basque regional TV producers, ETB have been producing nightly short summary videos, so there are highlights!
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4

Even better, stage 5, with the climb of Jaizkibel expected to be decisive, looks like it's going to be live like last year on ETB1!
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Re:

21 May 2017 10:00

Libertine Seguros wrote:may be one to watch at the Giro!


Is she on the startlist? I wonder about the wisdom of putting a teenager into the Giro. Could be a career killer.

Meanwhile, Solovey is back from the dead
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21 May 2017 22:16

At the last update to the Giro startlist for them Nosková hadn't been taken on by BePink so I don't know if they plan for it. The thing is, at the Giro you often have a fair few young riders on the smaller teams including teenagers and espoirs, especially on the small Italian teams, just riding for experience. Because of low budgets often some of those teams like Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo, Aromitalia-Vaiano and Servetto do end up taking quite inexperienced riders as Alé and other international teams are often able to bogart the top Italian riders. And this year's route is an abnormally easy Giro Rosa, so it mightn't be as brutal a baptism as 2013 with Monte Beigua and San Domenico di Varzo or 2016 with the Mortirolo and the hellish racing from distance in the Madonna della Guardia stage. At the same time, while it is a risk to take a teenager with so little experience on the road, if Tuhai's problems are serious, then other than Zabelinskaya, Nika might be the team's best shot at impacting the tougher stages (Sanguineti will be visible in the more rolling stages). There are a lot of young riders on BePink's team, and they may prefer to take a 19-year-old with great results in the mountains ahead of a 20- or a 21-year-old with less obvious upside. And certainly it worked out OK for Kasia Niewiadoma after her 2014 Giro showings, although in fairness her level was much more clear after a fair few races with Rabo, whereas this is just about Nosková's first major road race, and also even though Rabo taking a teenage neo-pro to the Giro was in and of itself a shock, that Rabo team was so stacked that there wasn't much pressure on her, whereas if BePink wind up leaning on Nosková for results in any way it could be disastrous.

Anyway, back at the race she's been in...

Stage 5 finale

Jaizkibel, as expected, sorted the women from the girls, breaking the race into a thousand pieces, and it was great to see (although the limited available cameras meaning focusing for an eternity on stragglers coming through the GPM at Jaizkibel seven or eight minutes behind the leaders and not having footage from the motos following the leaders did make it a bit tougher to follow!). Of course, coming into the stage Orica-AIS had won three of the four stages and held places 1, 2 and 3 in the GC, and it looked like it was going to take something pretty special to dethrone them. Well, we got something special to dethrone them. That came in the form it was most expected to come, in fairness - a veritable exhibition of climbing skills from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The South African was one of the main favourites coming into the race, having finished on the podium in both of the last two seasons (2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year) and with none of the three riders who beat her out those years (Niewiadoma in 2015, Johansson and Guarnier in 2016) present, but she had a pretty significant deficit to make up to Katrin Garfoot, who we know is no slouch uphill and with a wealth of experience and the strongest team in the race, able to potentially call on Amanda Spratt and Annemiek van Vleuten as superdomestiques. Ash prevented that arising as an issue by attacking early, wearing everybody down and dropping Garfoot, leaving Annemiek to defend Orica's GC position; however, van Vleuten's lead over Moolman-Pasio on the GC was a mere 6 seconds, as opposed to the 34 that Garfoot had in hand... and then Ash went alone.

Going solo, the Cervélo-Bigla rider opened up a significant gap, and showed that clearly she deserved the QOM jersey she was wearing, cresting with some 30" over the summit of the climb over the chasing duo of Annemiek van Vleuten and, excitingly, Eider Merino, the Lointek rider who is clearly peaking for her home race, but seems to be showing that it's not just Sheyla Gutiérrez that's ringing in this apparent mini-revival of Spanish women's cycling, which has been rather in the doldrums since Maribel Moreno's return from Beijing in disgrace. Eider has been in great form, as I mentioned before winning the Vuelta a Burgos, but she was 6th on Mont Ventoux in the Tour de l'Ardêche last year and she's only 22, so while this is obviously her on best form, she has room for improvement so could be an interesting climbing prospect. Garfoot was a few seconds behind the duo, while best young rider Nikola Nosková led a chasing group that came in a little over a minute back from Moolman-Pasio.

On the descent, Annemiek showed that her terrifying experience at the Olympics hasn't fazed her one bit, flying down the mountainside in the bid to save Orica from losing the GC from such a strong position; this created a tough quandary for the Australian team, as Garfoot was losing time on the descent; do they hope Annemiek's descending and TT skills can bring her back to Moolman-Pasio, or sacrifice allowing Ash the guaranteed 10" bonus for winning but have Annemiek drop back and pull the race leader along? While they were deciding, Merino was being a good Basque climber, and therefore having a terrible time on the descent, with van Vleuten absolutely schooling the young Lointek rider, who was then caught and dropped by Garfoot on the run-in into Errenteria. Orica decided that Garfoot's time loss was too great and put their eggs in the Dutch basket, but unfortunately for them, while Annemiek is the stronger time triallist of the two, Moolman-Pasio is absolutely no mug against the clock and with the GC on the line, she put her head down and went for it all-out; the chasedown got quite tense but the South African had enough in reserve to take the stage win, finishing 13" ahead of van Vleuten; the next question was, how close was the race leader? With 4" bonus at the line and a lead of 32" (Ash had picked up 2" in bonuses earlier in the stage) she needed to be inside 26" to defend... she couldn't do it. Merino trailed in behind them, but with her stunning climbing performance vaulted all the way up to 4th in the GC, the first Spanish top 10 in the race since Anna Sanchis in 2012, and the highest-placed home finish since Joane Somarriba won the race all the way back in 2004. Ann-Sophie Duyck gained a bit of time on the run-in that helped elevate her on the GC, with the remainder of the chasing group coming in at 1'32" and including Nosková and Ludwig, duelling over the best young rider jersey, Spratt and Gillow, with Rooijakkers and Simmonds, and the young Russian Polina Kirillova, trailing in a few seconds off. Solovey came in with Ane Santesteban in the next group on the road, two and a half minutes back, with the latter dropping to 12th on the final GC as a result.

Final stage results:
1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA 2'32'33"
2 Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS) NED +13"
3 Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) AUS +38"
4 Eider Merino Cortazar (Lointek) ESP +50"
5 Ann-Sophie Duyck (Drops) BEL +1'21"
6 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +1'32"
7 Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) AUS +1'32"
8 Nikola Nosková (BePink-Cogeas) CZE +1'32"
9 Shara Gillow (FDJ-Futuroscope) AUS +1'32"
10 Pauliena Rooijakkers (Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental) NED +1'41"

Final GC:
1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA 10'10'54"
2 Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-AIS) NED +10"
3 Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) AUS +12"
4 Eider Merino Cortazar (Lointek) ESP +1'21"
5 Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) AUS +1'40"
6 Nikola Nosková (BePink-Cogeas) CZE +1'43"
7 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +2'00"
8 Ann-Sophie Duyck (Drops) BEL +2'10"
9 Hayley Simmonds (Team WNT) GBR +2'19"
10 Pauliena Rooijakkers (Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental) NED +2'19"

Meanwhile elsewhere this weekend, there was more joy for Orica and Cervélo in Switzerland, as at the mostly flat SwissEver GP Cham, the two teams took the top two spots on the podium as well, although this time it was the Australian team's turn to shine, with the race finishing as expected in a sprint which was won by Sarah Roy, with the German Stephanie Pohl finishing 2nd for the home team (Cervélo-Bigla are registered in Switzerland and bearing in mind Bigla emerged ultimately out of the team built around Nicole Brändli many many years ago, they've always been thought of as the home team there), with Astana's young prospect Arianna Fidanza rounding out the podium. This follows the previous day's (non-UCI) Berner Rundfahrt, where Pohl had won solo ahead of another Orica rider, Jess Allen, with Roy then rounding out the podium from the ensuing sprint from the péloton.

In the Netherlands, the Omloop van de IJsseldelta took place, an absolutely pan-flat race which is usually broken up by the wind and often sees small escapes survive. This year was no different, only the experience levels were different, as while last year superstar Anna van der Breggen defeated experienced veteran Vera Koedooder, this year saw a two up sprint being won by 19yo Nina Buysman of Parkhotel Valkenburg, ahead of 20yo Loes Adegeest of NWVG-Uplus; the two only just saw off (by ten seconds) a strong péloton which was led home by Lucy Garner, the Wiggle rider outsprinting a field including the likes of Nina Kessler, Floortje Mackaij, Jip van den Bos and some pretty useful teams.

Meanwhile in North America, the Gatineau weekend took place, with the Chrono Gatineau, a regular 21km course, followed by an undulating road race around the Quebecois town. This is one of the few real decent length TTs that happens outside of major championships, but unfortunately as many strong TTers are also all-rounders based in Europe, the field is generally restricted to the North American péloton. Nevertheless, there are of course many very strong contre le montre riders in that North American péloton, with riders either from, or plying their trade in, North America having been at the business end of most of the recent international championships in this format. The winner in the Chrono was Lauren Stephens, the Tibco rider jumping up from 4th in last year's event to claim the crown this year, just 3 seconds ahead of local favourite Karol-Ann Canuel, who normally plies her trade with Boels-Dolmans of course, but likes to test herself on the closest thing she gets to home roads in the season; this is her third straight podium after being 2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year. World ITT champion Amber Neben was only able to make 3rd, 11 seconds behind Stephens' mark, pushing Pan-American silver medallist Tayler Wiles down to 4th.

The ensuing road race ended in a reduced sprint, with some 47 riders left in the group at the end. And it was the all-star Canadian national team that took the victory, which came through Sunweb's Leah Kirchmann, ahead of her temporary teammate Kirsti Lay (normally of Rally) and with the podium rounded out by Tibco's Kendall Ryan, normally best suited to the US crit circuit.
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