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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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08 Jun 2017 23:42

On paper, stage 2 was the toughest stage, with a couple of significant climbs in the last 40km, including Gun Hill, a very well-known ascent dotted all over British cycling history. As such it was expected to be the most selective, especially after the riders woke up to see wind and rain this morning, and knowing that the péloton had to try to make amends for yesterday's tactical screw-up that allowed Niewiadoma to build a very imposing lead in the GC with all of her favourite terrain still to come. In addition to the two categorized climbs there was quite a bit of notable uncategorized up and down in undulating terrain; this combination of factors meant that there were attacks right from the gun, which put a lot of pressure on the WM3 domestiques against some other teams' superior firepower. Once the intermediate sprints were dispensed with - mainly settled from the break, particularly by Alison Jackson and Anna Trevisi - the action began to hot up, with Lucinda Brand joining an attack move she promptly attacked to go solo from once it looked that the bunch were going to re-absorb them, with a counter-move from the ever-determined Trixi Worrack and Christine Majerus to keep the péloton honest; indeed, the chase to pull the duo's counter back broke the péloton to pieces - indeed when they emerged at the base of Gun Hill, there was only about a third of the bunch left in the leader's group. While Trixi and Christine were brought back, significant counters first from Elena Cecchini and then from Małgorzata Jasińska helped keep the pressure up and prevent the bunch from easing up. At one point, though Brand was still away solo, a very strong counterattack was formed; Niewiadoma had decided the right wheels to keep her eyes on were those of Ash Moolman-Pasio, Elisa Longo Borghini and Anna van der Breggen, which is not an unreasonable decision at all - and when Ash attacked it briefly created a very elite quartet in second on the road, although the South African desisted when the move wasn't as decisive as hoped and this enabled the group to come back together before the summit.

This meant we could take stock of who was in the move. The most significant thing was that apart from Canyon-SRAM, who had their whole team present, Boels-Dolmans were the best represented with four riders - but none of them were Lizzie Deignan, who had been left way down the road with loyal helper Nikki Brammeier pulling her along several minutes behind; the defending champion has not been herself for much of this year, but certainly would have expected that unless she's ill or injured she'd have been among the main protagonists here. WM3 had been reduced to just one helper for Kasia - but that helper was Marianne Vos, just about the most luxury domestique any rider has had ever. After Brand was caught, the last few kilometres were a veritable festival of attacks, with both specialists in that kind of late move such as Elena Cecchini and Chantal Blaak and riders for whom the finish was unsuitd to them like Claudia Lichtenberg and Audrey Cordon trying to escape, but generally the bunch was alert and moves were quickly countered. Once it became clear a reduced sprint was the most likely outcome, Anna van der Breggen worked hard to ensure it, given the technical run-in.

Given the number of corners in the last 500m and that the finish itself was on cobbles we are perhaps to be thankful for no crashes, but that's also partly due to the level of dominance Amy Pieters showed when she opened up her sprint; she had the lead with enough daylight to be able to choose her line rather than there being any barging going on, and salvaged an excellent day for Boels - it's her first victory for the team as well as her second at the Women's Tour - out of what could have been a disaster with the team leader's GC downfall. Vos and Niewiadoma shepherded things well and so no time was lost (in her interview at the end, this was Kasia's main concern, she hadn't expected to get out of the closing stretches without a time loss, but in fact due to the technical run-in and gaps being created by the sprint, she even gained further time on some key names, with van der Breggen losing a further 6", Amialiusik, Gillow, Majerus, Brennauer and Cromwell at +10", Blaak +17", while Brand and Lichtenberg's attacks meant they fell from contention late on and lost around a minute. This will no doubt make the GC deficit that everybody has to Kasia seem large indeed, but she's done a lot of hard work the last two days, which could be exploited. At the same time, have Koster and Kitchen been able to conserve energy after being dropped today, as after all with Deignan in their group there would be no way they would contribute to any time-conserving chase, meaning they will be better rested for marshalling attacks for the green jersey in the coming days?
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2017

09 Jun 2017 02:11

Kasia is the woman! I can't believe this is her first WC-victory given how much I have heard of her, reading these posts, thats awesome. Unless she bonks like Floyd and Jan combined this should be home, no? :D
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09 Jun 2017 17:29

In fairness, though, the WWT last year was criticized for not being multi-dimensional enough in the calendar, with far too few races for climbers, and with the Rabo roster as stacked as it was, Kasia skipped a lot of the WT races last year that didn't suit her. With WM3, the reduced budget and heavier reliance on her for results has changed that somewhat. And she has been winning and podiuming a number of races with good fields or that suit her style, such as the 2015 Emakumeen Bira or the 2016 GP Elsy Jacobs and Giro del Trentino. Her lack of a sprint weapon makes her a chief animator of races since she's able to get over most obstacles but will seldom have a group she doesn't have to attack if she wants to win.

Anyway, the third stage of the race was through West Midland countryside and was well suited to escapes, however after some initial hostilities the race rather settled down as, after Wednesday's miscalculation and yesterday's hard racing, several teams were interested in taking this to a sprint, an outcome WM3 were of course happy with, taking some pressure off their resources in defending Kasia's green jersey. Chloe Hosking proved the strongest in the sprint finale, outpacing Alice Barnes (who with the bonus seconds reclaims the best British rider jersey from her sister) and Ellen van Dijk, who benefited over the more 'pure' sprinters in the group thanks to the slightly uphill drag and - as ever for this race - complex nature of the sprint run-in; with the bonus seconds, van Dijk moves up into 2nd on the GC, with the Barnes sisters tied for 3rd on time, Alice ahead due to countback.

The main move of the day was initiated by another young punchy talent, Cervélo's young Dane Cécilie Uttrup Ludwig, the WWT U23 leader (Kasia turns 23 in September so is ineligible even though the last WWT race is before her 23rd birthday), and Shara Gillow for FDJ-Futuroscope. They were joined by Martina Ritter from the local Drops team, Małgorzata Jasińska in her second consecutive day's break, and Gillow's compatriot, the ever-combative Gracie Elvin. Chasing the quintet did chop the péloton down in size, with only around half of the bunch there when the group were finally brought home. That wasn't just due to racing attrition, however; the day was marred by a number of crashes which affected the field. Two incidents were especially notable - the first saw Alena Amialiusik, just outside the top 10 on GC and one of the field's strongest climbers, abandon the race, while the latter brought down a number of riders, including Marianne Vos. Unlike Amialiusik, Vos was able to ride on to the finish, but came in over 3 minutes down, in a very small group also including Brammeier and Deignan (no word on if Lizzie was dropped again or was involved in one of the crashes, however); more importantly, however, the team have confirmed that post-race X-rays have confirmed a collarbone fracture and the Cannibal will have to abandon the race.

Without the services of the greatest female cyclist of all time, however, tomorrow's stage through the foothills of the Peak District could become a bit more of a challenge for Kasia, whose GC lead was looking pretty unassailable otherwise. The race leader was somewhat buried in the pack today, not contesting the finale like she was able to in the much-reduced group in Stoke, but she also had Anouska Koster for company; the Dutch champion will need to be on good form tomorrow to help defend, what with some teams having multiple weapons - most notably Boels of course, who have four riders that have been in contention the last two days, but Wiggle look to be at good strength, all six riders made the selection today, though they will likely be concentrating all of their efforts tomorrow around ELB given that Lichtenberg dropped time in the run-in after her attack in the closing stretches yesterday was brought back. Brand and Cecchini both dropped around a minute late on today, which will be helpful for WM3 in that those riders become less of a threat if Sunweb or Canyon want to play the multiple-card attack; also, Korevaar, Kitchen and Plichta came in well down today; how much of that is conserving energy after their job was done, leaving Niewiadoma in very capable hands, and how much of that is not having the right form, remains to be seen, they may need to be relied on to control a lot of moves with Vos absent. Given how strong Kasia was yesterday, comfortably marking the likes of Moolman-Pasio and Longo Borghini despite the previous day's 50km solo exploit, her lead still looks imposing, but just because the time gap doesn't look like one anybody can claw back just by out-muscling her, doesn't necessarily mean it can't be won back tactically. If Marianne was starting tomorrow I'd say she's home and dry, but without her most experienced and strongest teammate other teams may fancy their chances of isolating her early.
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09 Jun 2017 17:30

General news: Linda Villumsen will ride for Team Veloconcept for the remainder of the 2017 season. Her first race will apparently be Giro Rosa staring at the end of June. She hasn't ridden may races for the past few years so I've no idea what she's capaple of atm. But I assume she's still a good at TT.
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09 Jun 2017 23:56

The Tour goes in and around my cycling playground tomorrow, the Ecclesbourne valley. Like anyone with local knowledge I suppose, their choice of hills could have been more exciting, but nearly all the 'fun' roads round here are in poor condition and very narrow. If anyones going to get away then it will be probably be between 20k at New Road and 60k at Crich. After that, the terrain smooths out a bit to the finish, though maybe that's where Boels will try to make their move, given Kasia's climbing ability. Will be interesting to see what the crowds are like on a weekend as there's been very little local publicity that I'm aware of.
postmanhat
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2017

10 Jun 2017 06:23

Valv.Piti wrote:Unless she bonks like Floyd and Jan combined this should be home, no? :D

Please behave. Or I will make you to!
Katarzyna is honest, beautiful, intelligent, and courage woman.
***
My thought, she has won this race already.
Cant' see significant enemy for her.
And she has done it on the first stage!
Totally unbelievable! Marry meeeeeee! :)
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10 Jun 2017 08:42

It's crowded on the Kasia bandwagon these days! Admittedly I've spent a good couple of years driving that bandwagon, mind...

Anyway, one thing that the Women's Tour could improve is its stage profiles, which are pretty vague and hard to really judge. This is today's profile:

Image

The habit of giving two QOM points per stage rigidly seems a bit strange now that the parcours is more varied than when it was just around the East of England with the very flat stage designs; there are what look like a few potentially tough climbs on the stage that aren't categorized. That said, based solely from the routebook Road&Mud thought Bronzini would be a favourite for this stage, feeling it likely to thin the group down but ultimately see a reduced bunch come in to the line; however now that Kasia has survived Stoke comfortably and has been shorn of the help of Vos, it's hard to see too many teams being happy to let it come to a sprint unless they give up GC ambitions entirely. As I said above, if Vos was starting I'd say Kasia has this in the bag, but she's going to have a hard day's work ahead of her, and Anouska Koster in particular is going to have to work hard to help protect her from the numbers game. I don't see anybody stronger than Kasia out there on this week's evidence, especially on the climbs where she's in her element, so the likes of Boels and Canyon have to out-think and/or out-number her, and probably go hard on the early climbs to try to distance WM3's first set of domestiques. Kasia's only had Vos for company in Stoke, Koster stayed with her yesterday too, the others have worked hard but been dropped later on.

I'd take the reduced sprint though.
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10 Jun 2017 10:57

Well, it's going to be a tough day in the saddle. At the first QOM, Lucinda Brand has attacked and this has resulted in a serious upping of the pace that has left just 20 riders or so in the front group. A group of 6 formed over the summit, with Brand being joined by Niewiadoma, Lichtenberg, Moolman-Pasio, Majerus and Bronzini, but after the summit they regrouped to around 25. Maybe the fact Wiggle had two riders in the move but neither of them was Elisa Longo Borghini might have been a factor. Shara Gillow now attacking solo. No word on whether Kasia has any helpers left, or how many Boels or Sunweb have made the selection. Van Dijk is there, no word yet on the Barnes sisters. Canyon in general is a big question mark, the only info we've had out of them thus far is that Amialiusik has broken her hip in yesterday's fall, so unfortunately it'll be a while before we see the Belarusian again...

Edit: a second péloton of around 20 has successfully chased back onto the front group. There are 6 QOM points remaining and that is the exact difference between Cordon-Ragot and Brand in the classification after Brand gained a little in the first climb of the day. Gillow has around 20" advantage and started the day at +2'10". Shara has now been joined by Orica's sprinter, Sarah Roy, and Leah Kirchmann - the Canadian is at +2'02" and her presence in the break gives Ellen van Dijk a free ride behind. The group has close to two minutes' advantage now, which puts the green jersey under threat, although the péloton is starting to react. Still no news on if Kasia has any teammates, though I'd anticipate that Koster is there at least given the size of the group. Other teams don't want to just hand the win over to Sunweb either as the WT points are also a key consideration for big teams like Wiggle and Boels.

Deignan now counter-attacking, no reaction from the péloton, since she's a total GC irrelevance (some 12 minutes down) it'll be interesting to see if she's just stagehunting or if Boels have a plan because now that Kasia's been separated from her luxury domestique, having Lizzie to act as a stepping stone could give Majerus or van der Breggen a real luxury domestique of their own if they attack later on. The péloton is mindful of this though, and so although Lizzie has caught a good 45" on the break, she hasn't made more than 20" over the péloton, so they're also moderating the gap to the breakaway too. Kirchmann has grabbed the 3 bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint, however, to try to build up some pressure. The rest of the break swallowed the rest, so no seconds available for the other contenders. Gillow didn't contest, but took 1 second anyway by being 3rd.

On the second GPM, Lizzie's counter-move has been neutralized by an extremely dangerous group - one that the race leader has had to mark. All of a sudden, Lizzie is only 20" behind the breakaway, but she has company, and it's very elite company as well, bringing back memories of last year's race in to Chesterfield - a chasing trio of Niewiadoma, Ash Moolman-Pasio and Elisa Longo Borghini joined the defending champion, with Janneke Ensing then riding across to the quartet. Kasia happily leads over the GPM from her group as if to prove a point - nobody in this race is going to drop her in the climbs. Again, though, afterward the group swells in size again, bringing back a few others and putting 3 Boels riders in the group, with Lizzie obviously no threat but both Majerus and Anna VDB are... hmm, actually Christine has just gone up and over, having not needed to contribute to the chase, and has joined the leading trio, although their lead is now only 15"...
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2017

10 Jun 2017 20:17

Not really a surprise, due to all the hard work and campaigning
Mr. Brian Cookson OBE has tirelessly done on their behalf, but
fantastic news for several women from the pro peloton that now
have a chance to make history at the 2020 Olympics by going for
medals in the Madison. :)
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10 Jun 2017 21:17

So eventually I was unable to continue following the live tweeting due to other commitments, but the race continued to ebb and flow, although it looks like the actual threats to overhaul Niewiadoma's GC lead were relatively limited and, as I anticipated, Anouska Koster was the teammate to do all of WM3's hard leg work, being the only companion for Kasia through much of the stage. In the end the leading group, shorn eventually of Shara Gillow after her earlier exploits, was able to hold on to a slender advantage, with Sarah Roy almost inevitably being the strongest bearing in mind she was the only genuine sprinter there, although both Majerus and Kirchmann have a good turn of speed they have also been working harder in previous stages to preserve high GC positions - and indeed their exploits today move them up into 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the GC. It seems Boels were happy enough with the time gain from the Luxembourg champion, Sunweb had van Dijk in 2nd but didn't feel too threatened with Kirchmann also up there, and as long as the timegap was pretty manageable Kasia was not afraid of them either since their lead was not significant enough to trouble the sizable advantage she was given in stage 1; though the péloton has thrown plenty at WM3 over the course of the week, it seemed absolutely insane to give such a time bonus to a rider as strong as Katie Unknown on the terrain she doesn't like, with all the terrain she does yet to come.

There were some noteworthy splits in the group as it came in - Bastianelli led in a group at +17" with Hannah Barnes, van Dijk and Brand, the majority of the other contenders came in at +22" (including the race leader but also Alice Barnes, who therefore gives up her Best British Rider jersey to her older sister once more, the two having traded it stage by stage), though a few lost a handful more seconds, such as Gillow, Cecchini and Brennauer +28", Blaak, Koster and Knetemann +32", Cordon and Lichtenberg +35", Deignan +39" and Archibald +40". Looks like a nasty crash at the end, as Simona Frapporti and Silvia Valsecchi are classed with the bunch time of +25", but didn't cross the line until after the final autobus at nearly 20 mins down.

Tomorrow is a shortish flat circuit race, although it is quite technical, nevertheless even with pretty depleted reserves (Korevaar was the last finisher of all bar the two mentioned above, while Kitchen was also in the last group and Plichta in the 16 minutes group, although they may be saving energy in fairness) it's very hard to see Kasia's lead coming under threat; she still has 1'25" over Majerus and 1'36" over Kirchmann. The disappearance of Vos from the top 10 and Archibald's timeloss sees a bit of a shift around in the top 10 and Elisa Longo Borghini moves up into 10th as well as the appearance of Kirchmann from outside it to the podium places.
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Re:

11 Jun 2017 05:09

Libertine Seguros wrote:Anyhow, stage 1 is already in the books. The flattest stage but for the final circuit race, there was a group sprint to be expected, with the only climbing obstacles a long way from the line although the technical run-in (which is a very typical trait of the Women's Tour, remember the huge pile-up with three corners and narrow streets in the last 250m in Norwich last year? However, with the péloton having seen it twice before, the Kettering finish shouldn't hold any surprises) with some uphill ramps meant it wasn't your typical sprinters' fare. With the group patrolling well and marshalling moves, it looked early on like we'd be getting the kind of stage you might expect from that terrain, and that the Women's Tour has served up in the past. But while it may have looked like that, it didn't pan out like that.

Instead, we got something far more unexpected, as with just under 50km to the line, vaunted climber Kasia Niewiadoma decided to test her legs with a strong attack. After all, Kasia is the one who is quoted as saying "it can never happen that I will win from a group, the way to win is always by attacking", and she showed the same never-say-die attitude today; as the péloton dithered over the chase, the Polish escaladora committed all out to the move. While she's not renowned for racing on the flat, she isn't a Mara Abbott and has won relatively flat races before, such as the Ronde van Gelderland and the U23 European Championships in Tartu (ok, those are the only two, but bear with me), and with hesitation in the group (plus of course, chasing Kasia down would only give a free ride to a certain Eddy Merckx) suddenly that gap stretched to a minute, two minutes, three minutes and more! Lots of recriminations abounded in the péloton about who was supposed to chase; indications are that many of the other top teams wanted Boels-Dolmans to take the main responsibility, what with the favourite and defending champion in their ranks, but the combined GC and sprint aims of several teams did affect them. There was also the potential GC gain that would come from allowing Niewiadoma - one of the best climbers in the race - to tire herself out in a breakaway in a flat stage, which teams had to consider... but that would only work, of course, if they caught the Polka. And they didn't: by the time the chase got organized, they'd given way, way too much rope to a girl like Kasia, and finally, finally, she got her first World Tour victory.

It's also WM3's first World Tour win; for too much of the spring Kasia has been isolated against two, three or even four from teams like Boels, and that has meant she's been unable to capitalize on her form; ironically here, where coming off the back of a minor niggle she was unsure of her form, she's finally taken it to the house. Not only that, but having had a free ride for the whole of the run-in with her teammate up the road, Vos won the sprint for 2nd, pipping Christine Majerus on the finish she won in 2015, Giorgia Bronzini and Tiffany Cromwell. The run-in was surprisingly selective, in fact, and some small but potentially key time gaps were opened up. Obviously nothing on the scale of the 1'42" between Niewiadoma and the rest of the field, but still - in addition to those mentioned above, Moolman-Pasio, Ludwig, both Barnes sisters, Confalonieri, van Dijk and Kirchmann came in on the same time as Vos; many others lost a few seconds, with Longo Borghini, Pieters, Deignan, Blaak, Cecchini, van der Breggen, Amialiusik, Gillow, Brand and Brennauer among those at 1'50" (losing 8" on many other contenders), while Guderzo was at +1'59", Lichtenberg at +2'21", Stultiens and Neylan at +2'23".

It will be interesting to now see the balance of the race. How tiring is a 50km solo on terrain not suited to her going to be for Kasia in the days to come, and will WM3 be able to effectively marshal teams as strong as Boels and Wiggle here? Or, given her excellent climbing skills, has the péloton just dropped the ball and given us a damp squib of a GC race by giving one of the strongest climbers in the women's péloton a headstart of nearly 2 minutes before they even see a hill?


Add me to the lengthening list of people wanting to marry Kasia! :D
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11 Jun 2017 14:57

Short, flat and fast London stage, with the loop shortened from 8,8km to 6,2km so it's a 62km circuit race to bring the race to a close. In theory it should be academic, but we'll see. It does seem like the péloton did drop the ball, giving one of the best climbers in the world an advantage in the stage that should have been least suited to her. They've thrown what they can at the young Pole, but she's had an answer to everything so far, aided first by Marianne Vos and then Anouska Koster, and it very much looks like she's going to go coast to coast. Like I say, it's getting crowded on the bandwagon as more of the fanbase gets to know what she's about; she can't sprint so her main tactical plan is attacking, she's a great climber so she animates any and all hilly or mountainous races, and she's never been afraid to take a risk - an ideal kind of rider to have around for entertainment.

Now, with this being the last roll of the dice, there have been attacks right from the gun in the pseudo-crit (just one month before another WWT pseudo-crit in London, the Ride-London "Classic") because other teams may not expect to be able to depose Kasia in such a short stage, but they're going to at least try. Boels-Dolmans in particular set the pace high and want Kasia to chase, placing Christine Majerus, 2nd overall, into an attack and prising the race leader out to mark it. A pinch point in the circuit has enabled a gap to form and a group of 12 have gained a small amount of time, including no fewer than FOUR Boels riders - alongside Majerus, Pieters and Deignan are there, so I assume the fourth is probably van der Breggen. Kasia has marked the move, and has Jeanne Korevaar, her youngest teammate, for company, while Lisa Brennauer is also there to help defend Hannah Barnes' GC position and Best British Rider jersey. With the metas volantes up for grabs, Wiggle (for Jolien d'Hoore) and WNT (for Katie Archibald) led the chase, but good cohesion in the front group limited their effectiveness. An unfortunate mechanical for Lisa Brennauer then saw her removed from the leaders' group, which is unfortunate for one of their strongest engines.

I anticipate Cervélo and Sunweb to start to help the chase before long, with their GC positions to protect. Majerus could be a threat to d'Hoore's sprints jersey.

Edit: correction, Boels actually have FIVE in the lead group as Chantal Blaak is there too - the fact Majerus is in the points jersey rather than her usual national champion's kit confused the reportage. So it's five from Boels, then Niewiadoma, Korevaar and Barnes. Good cohesion, mainly as Boels are treating it as a TTT with interlopers. Interestingly, Kasia contested the sprint for bonus seconds, Pieters didn't. Barnes won it, which moves her level with van Dijk on time even if the group is caught, I think Barnes would then take 4th on countback depending on the end of today's stage. Majerus took 2 seconds, Niewiadoma 1. This also puts the Luxembourg champion level on points with Jolien in the metas volantes, so Wiggle are stepping up the chase before they get to the second intermediate in the aim of defending and keeping two jerseys from the race. Orica and Sunweb have joined the chase, so it looks like the Boels TTT game may be over, the group's advantage is just 10" approaching the halfway stage.

Eventually the catch was made, but with one of the strongest teams in the women's péloton effectively managing a TTT (Brammeier the only Boels rider not to make the move), the pace and strength that it took the other teams to bring them back has shelled a fair few riders, more than we might have expected from a pan-flat 60km stage. With the final intermediate sprint coming up, Wiggle are now working hard to place Jolien d'Hoore in the best possible position to safeguard the jersey. However, they were unable to marshal effectively enough as a small splinter group making a move partway through the lap completely derailed the trains, and in the end Hannah Barnes took another 3 seconds to move herself now up to 3rd in theory, with Majerus taking 2nd in the sprint to move another two seconds closer to Kasia and take the jersey for the intermediate sprints, and Kirchmann then defending 3rd by taking the leftover second to bring her back level with the Best British Rider.

By my reckoning, then, the situation on the road is:
Niewiadoma
Majerus +1'22"
Barnes, Kirchmann +1'36"
van Dijk +1'39"

It seems likely that the attempts to escape are going to be limited now, however, the high speed has left us with only a couple of laps to go, and the chances of getting away from a péloton hurtling at comfortably over 40km/h are fairly limited unless you have sufficient numbers and representation from enough of the strong teams to be allowed to get a gap, which is seeming unlikely. Even a strong duo like Neylan and Moolman-Pasio weren't able to generate any leeway, and with several strong teams - including Wiggle, Canyon and Sunweb - not having a victory yet in the race, it seems that the pressure is over for the GC and WM3's work is done. Hannah Barnes is hunting the GC podium, which she can manage if she can best Leah Kirchmann and finish in the top 3 on the stage - on a flat course that should be doable for her, but there's a strong sprinting field with Roy, Bastianelli, Hosking, d'Hoore, Pieters, Majerus, Bronzini, Klein, Archibald, Gutiérrez and her sister all capable in this bunch. Ash is keen to try to get away though, and has had a second bite at the cherry, this time accompanied by Anna van der Breggen and Elisa Longo Borghini, so we are talking a real, real élite group - but again they've been dragged back, and if a trio THAT strong can't get away, you're thinking that too many have a vested interest in the sprint for any other outcome to be possible. Seemingly lots of attempts at getting away, but very few are even getting far enough up the road for race radio to have a chance to ID them before they're reeled back in and the next move goes.

However, it takes somebody really strong to make a move that's substantial enough to be picked up on, and for the third time, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is the one who gets a bit of daylight as the final lap begins - apparently her father is here in London on a rare opportunity to see his daughter ride, she's making as sure as possible that he'll get to see her. The bunch is starting to split due to the high pace, and seemingly Hosking has been caught out - she'd have been one of the favourites in the sprint too. Boels ensuring a high pace by continually rotating attacks - they may not have been able to use their numbers game to overturn the advantage that Niewiadoma had in the GC, but can they use it to defy the sprinters' teams? Likely not, but they're certainly doing their best to prove otherwise - but with 1km to go everything is back together again.

...and the final stage is won in the sprint by Jolien d'Hoore! The Belgian has seemingly not been at her best this week, even missing out on a few intermediates that you would have thought she could have easily taken, but here in the final stage she's recaptured that sprint power that has made her so feared in the burst for the line. It also means that five different teams took stage wins, and also Hannah Barnes took 2nd place which consolidates the GC podium for her; Christine Majerus took 3rd to preserve the points jersey from Barnes and d'Hoore and move slightly closer to Kasia, finishing ahead of Roxane Fournier and Katie Archibald in the sprint.

The final GC therefore looks like this:
1 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling) POL
2 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) LUX +1'18"
3 Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) GBR +1'30"
4 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb-Giant) CAN +1'36"
5 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb-Giant) NED +1'39"
6 Alice Barnes (Drops) GBR +1'47"
7 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +1'53"
8 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +1'59"
9 Dani King (Cylance Pro Cycling) GBR +2'00"
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +2'01"
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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11 Jun 2017 18:51

Now, the Women's WorldTour doesn't get going again until after the national championships, with the Giro Rosa being the next race in the season-long battle. And therefore this is the end of the line for some people's jerseys. Obviously some are overwhelming favourites to retain the jerseys they wear (Majerus and Lepistö, for example) while some are going to be unable to defend (Amialiusik, for example); a lot of others could be very open competitions which means that, next time they line up in the World Tour a lot of the current national champions may not be in their current jerseys. One jersey we definitely won't be seeing in Italy will be Kasia Niewiadoma's Polish jersey - even if she successfully defends it; that's because the points for the GC victory in the Women's Tour, with van der Breggen finishing outside the top 10 and with neither Coryn Rivera nor Annemiek van Vleuten entering the race, are enough that she trades her trade jersey, national or normal, for the World Tour leader's jersey. With few points picked up by the likes of Anna VDB and Elisa, and the uncharacteristically quiet race from Lizzie, the rest of the top 10 remains unchanged even despite Jolien's stage win.

Other moves in the WWT overall are that Ellen van Dijk makes a jump up to 11th place, while Ludwig also climbs a couple of places. The biggest movers are, predictably, Hannah Barnes, who jumps up to 15th from a relatively marginal position in the WWT, while Christine Majerus is now at the bottom end of the top 20, having not scored any 2017 WT points until this week, mostly as her best performances have been either in a domestique role or in non-WT races, such as her great victory in the GP Elsy Jacobs. Others with strong forward momentum are Alice Barnes, Leah Kirchmann and, further down, Giorgia Bronzini and Dani King. In the youth standings, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig's lead was cut to "only" twice what her nearest competitors can muster, as Alice Barnes was the top U23 (again, the 1/1 cutoff date makes Niewiadoma ineligible despite that she'll still be 22 when the WWT finishes for the year, but that's probably for the best for the sake of competition as she'd obliterate it), bringing her up to 16 points, with Cecilie on 32. The next two WWT events are the Giro Rosa and La Course; Drops aren't scheduled to ride the Giro Rosa, and Ludwig is slated to ride; illness or injury notwithstanding she has a good chance to pick up a maximum of 12 points (depending on what happens with other young riders like Tuhai at the Giro) before the flatter races begin and the likes of Barnes, along with Dideriksen, Mackaij and Kopecky, come back into the reckoning; by that point Cecilie's lead may be unassailable.

In the team standings, few changes at the business end. Cervélo, despite Ash holding station and Cecilie improving by a couple of places, actually lose 2 spots in the team ranking, falling from 5th to 7th, due to being surpassed by WM3 and Canyon thanks to the points attained by Niewiadoma and Barnes respectively. FDJ and Drops also climb positions, at the expense of the BTC City-Ljubljana team who weren't at the OVO Tour.
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12 Jun 2017 01:02

I've been catching up with the race in Britain through the highlights packages and I simply cannot believe that not one DS from any major team had the basic common sense to order their team to chase Niewiadoma. It was absolute insanity. How can you let a top climbing specialist just ride away on the flat like that and then look at each other?
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12 Jun 2017 07:25

From what I could gather, everyone was looking around trying to get someone else to chase until they were finally told what the gap was and it turned out to be quite large. One rider mentioned 3 minutes. Supposedly that's when they finally chased.
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12 Jun 2017 18:45

Unknown is no longer unknown.
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13 Jun 2017 18:52

To be fair I think it's been a good long while since Katie Unknown could live up to that name, but with the scaling back of the former Rabo superteam, she's more prominent as she isn't sharing the spotlight at her team with so many (and indeed for much of the year she's been ploughing a lone furrow against the superteams in the hilly races). I got the impression a lot of teams were expecting Boels to pick up much of the leg work to chase, since they had the favourite and defending champion. We've also learnt that Lizzie was sick at the start of the race, which explains both their reluctance to commit too many pairs of legs to the chase, and why she suffered so badly in the Stoke stage, whereas the Lizzie we saw in the last two days of the race was much more like we might have expected from her.

Sunday also saw another race, the 1.1 Diamond Tour in Belgium, quite a new race and, although quite long at just under 140k, expected to end in a sprint - however, we were guaranteed a new winner, as every previous winner of the race was absent, instead she was busy winning the final stage in the Women's Tour (that's right, Jolien d'Hoore has won every edition until this week). In her place came a win for Nina Kessler, who has a formidable placements record in these Benelux one dayers, the precise reason why she was a key pickup for Hitec as they looked to replace Kirsten Wild. The Dutch fastwoman beat her compatriot, fellow long-time national pro Monique van de Ree, and the Italian Valcar-BPM rider Chiara Consonni, another definite sprinting prospect - she's only 17 years old. The next two in line were two more Dutchwomen, first the hardest woman in cycling, Ilona Hoeksma, after leading out Kessler, and then Eva Buurman, who is quietly breaking out a bit this year, picking up a number of top 10s over a range of terrain from hilly races to bunch sprints. Depending on how she progresses and the direction she chooses to direct her development, she may not become more than a solid domestique who gets the occasional win if she moves up to a top team, but she's really kicked on this season.
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Re:

13 Jun 2017 19:16

Libertine Seguros wrote:Chiara Consonni


Any relation to UAE-Abu Dhabi's exciting young sprinter Simone Consonni?

edit - Nevermind, google says yes
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15 Jun 2017 22:41

Libertine and all, what do you think about the format for the Women's La Course? I like that they are trying new things.
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16 Jun 2017 18:40

Are you referring to the Invitational Pursuit or the actual points-paying MTF race?

The MTF race I have some reservations about, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's only 66km long and basically flat until the MTF. It will be an interesting Unipuerto shoot-out, but as the women are proving they can take on progressively harder and harder races, including a 66km one-day race in the WWT seems counter-intuitive. We may say that the short mountain stages have been a great success in stage races, but a standalone 100-120km "classic" wouldn't be nearly as appealing. At the same time, one of the big criticisms I had of the 2016 WWT was that there were far too many rouleur-puncheur races and not enough for the climbers, as was shown by the fact that the strongest full-season climbers like Moolman-Pasio and Niewiadoma were far higher per CQ ranking than per World Tour ranking last season, and therefore the redressing of this with La Course becoming a mountainous race this season is beneficial, especially with an abnormally 'easy' Giro (at least mountains-wise) this season.

However, as a counterpoint I will say that there are two major problems that I had with it back in October that remain, and to an extent these are problems that are systemic with both the governing body and the race organizers, ASO. Firstly, ASO clearly see the women's races as something to use to keep the crowd occupied while they wait for the men's races. I know that at many other major races, the women ride at least part of the same course as the men earlier in the day, where the same function applies, but Flanders Classics, RCS and other such organizers seem far more supportive of their women's races. Gent-Wevelgem, for example, started out as a minor race and was built up once it had developed the status; streaming and coverage of the women's Omloop, Ronde and so on improves, the organizers at least try to keep the fans in the loop on what they're offering, or at least offering explanations for the limitations of what they're offering. It has been a long-standing gripe of many women's cycling enthusiasts that ASO, the organizers of several of the biggest races in the world, arrive in Huy and appear completely flummoxed by the machinations of an "on" switch until the men arrive hours later, even though we've seen more kilometres of action in the women's Flèche for the last two years than we have at the men's every year since Wegmann's dart (was that '08?) combined. And given that we're seeing women's stage races in France - including some long-lasting and prestigious ones - go to the wall or cut back (l'Aude, Route de France, Grande Boucle Féminine), and ASO pat themselves on the back because they give women the chance to race in front of lots of fans who are mostly politely waiting for Froome et al to come through later, on one day a year, you can see why many have reservations.

The other problem is that nobody thought to notify the organizers of the Thüringen Rundfahrt, one of the oldest and most storied women's stage races, which runs after the Giro, that the change in La Course was planned, forcing them to radically alter some plans they had well under way for their forthcoming anniversary edition in order to safeguard the field. This is less ASO's fault and more the UCI, who have been very disrespectful of some of the longest-running races on the calendar, keeping them out of the World Tour while promoting brand new races which run alongside men's races to the top level, and not really caring if they damage or even kill off races which have proven themselves sustainable even while women's racing received far less attention than it does today. A women's WWT that is homogenized with the men's may mean we can quantify achievements of the women more, and identify with the racers more, but that will only be by dint of comparison with the men - and harm a lot of the long-term supporters of the women's races at the expense of potentially short-term sponsors who see it as a side-show or supporting role (Peter van den Veen wrote an excellent article about this in relation to Amstel Gold and its effect on the Emakumeen Bira, and the UCI's response to it, a few months back).

Now, the pursuit idea I am ambivalent about. I like the idea of trialling the individual pursuit, but at the same time feel the method is off. I understand why they haven't introduced it as a WWT event, but at the same time, as an invite-only event and requiring a lot of travel, plus being announced late in the day when much of the accommodation etc. is booked, hasn't been most beneficial. And hey, what happens if riders have other plans for that weekend and simply hand back the invite? Does it pass down to the next riders or do they simply go without? This hasn't really been clarified as far as I know, because it seems it's just been assumed that the top 20 will all come along to the pursuit even though it pays no WWT points. There's also the concern that in having a rest day between the two races (why can't the women have a stage like the men on the intervening day and make it a stage race, MTF, sprint, pursuit?) it kills off the endurance aspect (notwithstanding that that may not be a major factor anyway, with 2 days' racing totalling under 90km), and also that the women are being used as a guinea pig with a view to ASO reacting to Velon. Not sure I personally subscribe to all of that, and in many respects hope the format succeeds, but would have preferred it as a final day of a legit stage race, rather than a time trial competition between many competitors who have nothing on the line and many of whom likely won't be time trial specialists.

From a racing point of view, I'm quite intrigued by it, would prefer a tougher or at least longer race, but I can go with it. However, I have much greater issues with it relating to the side of the sport that goes on away from the courses.
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