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The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

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.

Moderators: Eshnar, Irondan, King Boonen, Red Rick, Pricey_sky

07 Jul 2018 13:41

While many of the elites are in Italy right now, baking in the heat, there is another significant stage race going on at present, the Tour de Féminin Krásná Lipá in the Czech Republic. It has been running since the early 2000s and has a strong winner's list including Trixi Worrack, Hanka Kupfernagel and Amanda Spratt. Recent editions have been the preserve of emerging talents, owing to the coterminous nature with the Giro which understandably draws the majority of the sport's biggest names; in 2016 it was won by a 20yo prospect on the BMS Birn team, who won both hilly stages and defended in the ITT - Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who is now a pretty well known name in the sport after moving to the top level last year; and last year's edition was won in similar fashion - defending comfortably after winning the hilly first stage - by Ruth Winder, who moved from the US-based UHC team to compete in Europe this year so is currently in the Giro meaning we will get a new champion.

As ever, a number of smaller central European teams are here, along with some Low Countries teams without Giro invites - Doltcini-Van Eyck, Experza-Footlogix and Jos Feron Lady Force - the UHC team who are starting the European leg of their season, and some pretty decent looking national teams including a strong Dutch team including Floortje Mackaij, Nina Kessler and Yara Kastelijn, a Belgian team including Valérie Demey and Sanne Cant and a Russian team including Maria Novolodskaya.

In recent years the first stage has proven the most decisive in the four-day, five-stage race, and this year a two-woman escape got away to decide the stage, with Floortje Mackaij outsprinting Elizabeth Banks, the Briton on UHC's team for the first year this season, to take the stage with the remainder of the péloton - around 60 riders given same time as the bunch owing to a significant late crash - 21 seconds behind. There were 14 DNFs which suggests some pretty heavy crashes considering a large number of riders were credited with the péloton's time despite not finishing with it.

The second stage panned out in similar fashion, but with Mackaij not in the escaping move, she monitored it well enough to keep the gap down to less than the one she herself had enjoyed the previous day, but was unable to pick up any time bonuses, which made the escapees dangerous from a GC point of view; ever more impressive Russian teenager Maria Novolodskaya, who doesn't turn 19 until later this month, just missed out in the dart to the line as she was pipped to the win by Agnieszka Szkalniak, another youngster - aged 21 - who is on the Experza-Footlogix team this season after spending last season with Astana. The second stage here is frequently a sprint so it was interesting to see the péloton foiled again, though perhaps control by a hastily thrown-together national team is a bit more difficult to maintain than from a trade team that all know one another's strengths and weaknesses. Veteran climber Tetyana Riabchenko came in third, just ahead of the bunch, but with all of the other contenders coming in at +15", it left all to play for for the day 3 double-stage.
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07 Jul 2018 14:41

Never thought I'd see Wild beating Vos and Bronzini sprinting on an uphill gradient
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07 Jul 2018 18:25

Highlights of Giro Rosa stage 2 (skip to 7 minutes in). I'm quite excited by the trebling in length of these broadcasts from last year. Very pleasing.

The race set off on its loop around Ovada with van Dijk in the maglia rosa, Liane Lippert in white, Elena Cecchini in the maglia azzurra, and for reasons I'm not quite clear on, it looked like Amanda Spratt was in the maglia ciclamino and Karol-Ann Canuel in the maglia verde - suspect this was simply as leaders across the line for the 2nd and 3rd placed TTT teams. The stage was expected to be a sprint, but there were enough repechos on the road that it was possible to foresee an escape. It eventually came, and somewhat in the fashion of a men's race, a small and comparatively unthreatening break was allowed to gain time, with Spaniard Sheyla Gutiérrez, riding for Cylance and a stage winner here last year, escaping with Alice Maria Arzuffi, a road/cross crossover rider on the small Spanish Bizkaia Durango-Euskadi Murias team. Sheyla took the sprint at the top of the only GPM, so she will take the first 'real' maglia verde, rather than the symbolic distribution of the jerseys after stage 1. It looks like PMG Sport's coverage is following the Eurosport template for men's races, showing a couple of brief clips of the start of the race and then cutting to the last 20km or so "live", but I can't complain about that all told. All too often the limited number of motos mean we get some awkward jump cuts and important things missed - like in 2016 when the coverage basically went, "we join the race with Emma Pooley having attacked, and Tatiana Guderzo and Mara Abbott about to chase her on the Mortirolo".

A second duo, Sara Penton and former national champion Dalia Muccioli, tried to bridge the gap to Gutiérrez and Arzuffi with around 15km to go, but the lead was some 3 minutes at that point; the baking heat was starting to put paid to the two leaders, however, and their heavy deficits from the TTT meant not too much needed to be taken to negate their challenge to the maglia rosa. The women's bunch are perhaps less experienced in the arts of managing break-of-the-day type exploits, as it's not a common racing format for them, which led to a "will they/won't they" debate over the break's prospects, but once the teams of big sprinters started helping Sunweb peg the duo, it looked like this was going to come back together as the fugitives' advantage started tumbling dramatically. Chief among them were Wiggle-High 5, the squad currently going through some difficult times so keen, as Hitec were at the Women's Tour, to make an impression. Sunweb were also keen to protect the maglia rosa, so much so that even the maglia rosa herself was contributing, given that, you know, even if she lost out the team would likely keep the jersey within their ranks. Other teams started contributing to the chase, including Canyon putting Hannah Barnes into the group working at the front, suggesting that for this week Alexis Ryan is their protected sprint option, and Wiggle sending their two time trial engines, Cordon-Ragot and Martina Ritter. The gap was still 1'30 with 8km remaining, but the fight seemed to be going out of the two escapees. With 5km they were pedalling squares and looked like they were attacking each other just to change positions on the front, from the effort required. At 3km, Valcar-PBM and Alé-Cipollini joined the chase, and doomed them once and for all. At 2km to go, they were in sight for the péloton; and the trains started setting up their sprinters.

The fugitives stayed away into the final kilometre, but it was futile; 14 seconds can disappear very fast when the sprint trains are in full flow, and while they could maintain a lead through the technical corners, once it opened out, they were toast, and the bunch swallowed them with 300m remaining. And while the run to the line was slightly uphill, it was still one that a pure power sprinter could put their power down on, and there's no better power sprinter than the veteran Kirsten Wild, who's been winning sprints for over a decade at the top level. Even if the run-in didn't seem to suit her perfectly, she had enough power in the legs to stay ahead of two other veterans, Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos who of course have five World Championship road races between them. In fact, with Bastianelli fourth, there's another ex-World Champion and real proof of the value of veteran smarts, as with numerous young sprinters like Consonni and Ryan in the mix, and other established sprinters like Lepistö and Pieters in the mix, the top 3 on the stage have a combined age approaching 100.

Bonus seconds picked up in intermediate sprints mean that Lucinda Brand inherits the maglia rosa from van Dijk, while placements mean Labous inherits the maglia bianca from teammate Lippert, and Wild takes the maglia ciclamino thanks to her stage win.

Stage:
1 Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) NED 3'22'00
2 Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) ITA +st
3 Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) NED +st
4 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +st
5 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +st
6 Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) USA +st
7 Ilaria Sanguineti (Valcar-PBM) ITA +st
8 Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine) FRA +st
9 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +st
10 Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) NED +st

GC
1 Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) NED 3'40'22
2 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) CAN +st
3 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) NED +3"
4 Ruth Winder (Sunweb) USA +3"
5 Juliette Labous (Sunweb) FRA +3"
6 Liane Lippert (Sunweb) GER +3"
7 Julia Soek (Sunweb) NED +3"
8 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +4"
9 Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +4"
10 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +4"
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08 Jul 2018 16:33

Good to see D'Hoore take on the responsibility and sprint to win stage three of the Giro Rosa - She was employed by MS to finish off races and should never absolve that responsibility when she makes a final.
Last edited by yaco on 08 Jul 2018 17:44, edited 1 time in total.
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08 Jul 2018 17:00

Stage 3 of the Giro Rosa looped around Corbetta, an absolutely pan-flat 8-lap race on a 16,5km circuit around the city which sits on the westernmost extremity of the Milan satellite town area. Before we started, however, there was a moment of sheer horror as for the first time Liane Lippert's German champion's jersey was on show, and Sunweb have brutalised the thought-to-be-impossible-to-screw-up German jersey (obviously she's not the TT champion so didn't wear it on day 1, and was in the maglia bianca yesterday) as they did with Sinkeldam in the men's team. It's a classic combination of Po Floodplain altimetry and Logroño-in-the-Vuelta-like circuits that aren't especially conducive to hard racing.

After Kirsten Wild beat the Sunweb duo of Leah Kirchmann and maglia rosa Lucinda Brand to the first intermediate sprint points, the main move of note was Carmela Cipriani of Conceria Fabri-Zanini, Sara Penton of Virtu (who had attempted to chase down yesterday's escapees so this is clearly a goal for her) and Chiara Perini of Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo. Jessica Parrá Rojas of Servetto managed a good gap on the péloton but never quite caught the fugitives and so was eventually forced to abandon her lengthy chasse-patate. With Wiggle and Sunweb having done the majority of the work the previous day, it came down to Cervélo-Bigla and Alé-Cipollini to do a lot of the work on the front here, as for the second day in a row the closing sequences resembled those of a men's race, as is more often the case in the Giro owing to the greater strain on recovery, comparatively unusual in the women's bunch as long-form stage races are few in number. The trio's lead just inside 20km to go was 1'33", the kind of time gap that you know can comfortably be pulled back unless the péloton miscalculates. As with yesterday, Wiggle came up to the front for the final lap to try to ensure they could place Kirsten Wild in the best possible position, and also as something of a dry run for the finale, seeing as the bunch had already seen it several times, and wanted to get a bit of a feel for taking it on at full pace, before passing pacing duties back to Cervélo's troops.

Sara Penton was the strongest of the three fugitives, and she attacked her breakmates when it looked like the catch was inevitable, striking out alone and hoping the technical sections through the centre of town before the wide open finishing straight would play into her favour; the other two were not to be dismissed so easily, however, and chased back on. It did serve to break up the cooperation between the three escapees, which also coincided with Canyon committing one rider to the chase as well, further dooming them, and the catch was made with 5,5km remaining - with Penton swinging across the road almost directly into the path of Hannah Barnes, at the front of the Canyon train that was organising itself, for good measure. Mitchelton-Scott were the next to set up camp at the front, keeping the pace high enough to prevent anybody from taking those typical women's cycling darts that proliferate at this stage in races with smaller team size. Brand was ever alert, however, and was right on the wheel of the Australian team, to defend the maglia rosa. At 2km to go, on some urban cobbles, Canyon set up again, with the expectation that Alexis Ryan would sprint as, once more, the Barnes sisters had been committed to the chase. Coming into the final kilometre, however, nobody had a clear advantage in the leadout as various riders were hanging back and no one team was committing three or four riders. Cecchini was being asked to do over a kilometre of leadout, which was never going to be successful; it was the maglia rosa herself who broke that up, with Sunweb getting a mini-train going in the final kilometre, Brand leading Kirchmann, Ryan and Wild into the final corner, but as the sprinters fanned out across the road, Jolien d'Hoore emerged, and with a sprint that absolutely stamped authority all over the rest of the péloton's fast women, pulled comfortably clear and won by a couple of lengths ahead of yesterday's winner, Kirsten Wild, and Alexis Ryan. All of that work for Sunweb was rather for nothing, it seems, though the time bonuses from earlier intermediate sprints do mean that Leah Kirchmann inherits the maglia rosa from Lucinda Brand (it is the second stint in rosa for Kirchmann, after winning the prologue a couple of years ago).

Stage result:
1 Jolien d'Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) BEL 3'15'47
2 Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) NED +st
3 Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) USA +st
4 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) CAN +st
5 Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) ITA +st
6 Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) NED +st
7 Barbara Guarischi (Team Virtu) ITA +st
8 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +st
9 Chiara Consonni (Valcar-PBM) ITA +st
10 Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN +st

The technical nature of the run-in meant that the leading 15 riders or so ended up opening up a few seconds' gap, while also a crash at around 4km to go split the bunch resulting in some notable time losses.

Unless the Vos of 2012 is back, however, I wouldn't really call any of the riders in the first few that made it with zero time loss GC threats; in the group at +4" we have van Vleuten, Brand, Longo Borghini, Spratt, van Dijk, Ludwig, Moolman-Pasio, Bertizzolo, Cecchini, Niewiadoma, Amialiusik and Blaak. At +25" we have Jasinska, Batagelj and Guderzo, Wiles and Stultiens are at +58", while Ratto, Merino, Magnaldi, Guarnier (!), Leleivyte and Rowe are at +1'00" exactly. Karol-Ann Canuel, having a quiet season save for success on home roads in the Gatineau races, lost 2'35", so this suggests that Boels might be a bit undercooked in terms of the GC, though a lot will depend on whether Guarnier's time loss was simply an error of placing in the bunch (let's face it though, usually Boels are very well drilled and well placed in the bunch), an involvement in the crash which may affect her in the coming days, or a simple loss of form, as obviously 1'00 is far from too much to win back, however the fact Canuel - who was 8th on GC as a domestique last year - is losing so much time here points to a problem of some kind. Lucy Kennedy was last finisher of the day, 8 minutes down, though the stages where she'll be the most important helper are still a few days away yet.

All this means that there's a much less monochrome look to the GC, as some teams only had a small number of riders survive the accidents intact, and so Kirchmann goes from being behind on countback to a clear lead - an extra second gained over Brand in the intermediate sprint and then four seconds gained at the line. Sunweb's numbers up front are now slightly less impressive, but the fact Boels could only get Pieters and Blaak in front of the split is somewhat alarming for the usually-dominant Dutch team.

1 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) CAN 6'56'07
2 Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) NED +5"
3 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) NED +9"
4 Ruth Winder (Sunweb) USA +9"
5 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +10"
6 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +10"
7 Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +10"
8 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +17"
9 Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) NED +21"
10 Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) NED +25"
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08 Jul 2018 17:48

Lucy Kennedy crashed again and may have re-broken her collarbone - It's been a shocking start for this newcomer who is a gifted climber - She may have to start planning for 2019.
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08 Jul 2018 19:24

Karo, Anna, Skylar and I all crashed. Skylar then acted as a mechanic and fixed my bike. Anna then gave everything to bring me back to the second group. That was not easy." - @MeganGuarnier
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09 Jul 2018 11:45

Kennedy out again with a broken collarbone - It's a pity because he is a gifted climber who was to be a protected rider at the Worlds - Anyway she has time to work on her bike handling skills in the off-season.
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Re:

09 Jul 2018 11:47

Libertine Seguros wrote:Karo, Anna, Skylar and I all crashed. Skylar then acted as a mechanic and fixed my bike. Anna then gave everything to bring me back to the second group. That was not easy." - @MeganGuarnier


I was really confused there for a sec. Thought it was you (Libertine Seguros) talking about having crashed.
I'm assuming you aren't Megan Guarnier. :lol:
Aka The Ginger One.
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Re: Re:

09 Jul 2018 17:15

RedheadDane wrote:
Libertine Seguros wrote:Karo, Anna, Skylar and I all crashed. Skylar then acted as a mechanic and fixed my bike. Anna then gave everything to bring me back to the second group. That was not easy." - @MeganGuarnier


I was really confused there for a sec. Thought it was you (Libertine Seguros) talking about having crashed.
I'm assuming you aren't Megan Guarnier. :lol:

I took that off Boels' page, so they put the quote to show it was from Megan's twitter at the end rather than at the start where it would be if I'd taken it from the original tweet.

I've done quite a lot of posting while races were ongoing, so I think you'd have seen Megan on her phone or with a laptop perched on her handlebars in the live broadcasts or highlights if I were her!

The women were looping around Piacenza today, on a stage with a long flat run-in in the Po floodbasin but with a bit of a hillier first half, so there was a GPM available before the closing stages. Attacks came straight from the gun with several of the smaller Italian teams trying to get up the road as soon as the flag dropped (the only rider I was able to identify individually was Ana Maria Covrig thanks to her... interesting jersey that combines the Eurotarget-Bianchi celeste with her Romanian champion colours) and Kseniya Dobrynina of Servetto got the most established advantage, but the bunch was keen to fight out the secondary jerseys, and so the only GPM of the day was won by Elisa Longo Borghini, who took that prize in 2016 and has shown an aptitude for fighting out those uphill sprints far removed from her complete ineptitude when it comes to flat sprints.

By the time the real coverage began 22km from home, however, there was but one solo attacker, Olena Pavlukhina of BTC City-Ljubljana, with a narrow advantage over the bunch (as the champion of Azerbaijan while simultaneously riding for a team with black and magenta as its team colours, she, like Covrig, has an interesting jersey...). Cylance were leading the chase, hoping for a hometown win for Bronzini, but the women are starting to get crafty like the men, and not wanting to make the catch too soon; eventually reeling in the Azerbaijani with 10km remaining as teams like Mitchelton and Canyon looked to help the chase. A large crash ensued shortly after Pavlukhina was reeled in, with several key names involved including Marianne Vos, Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Kirsten Wild, Emilia Fahlin, Polona Batagelj and Tatiana Guderzo delayed by the incident. I didn't see who it was but a key Cervélo rider was waylaid also as two or three domestiques were dropping from the péloton to assist in a chase - seeing how Lotta did later on I presume this must have been for Ash. Much of the run-in was about negotiating positioning across a series of roundabouts, and this enabled Boels and Sunweb to take a better line around one and assume control over the péloton that had previously mostly been being controlled by Mitchelton-Scott.

The late nature of the crash proved brutal however, as after a hard chase to get back on, the pace ramping up for the sprint started spitting riders out of the back and it became a more attritional stage than you might otherwise have expected. A very technical final couple of kilometres also hurt this as it made it easier for a gap to emerge, that riders were having to fight tooth and nail to close. In the end, though, despite an ideal leadout from Sunweb, their lack of a bonanza sprinter showed, as while Leah Kirchmann is plenty quick in her own right, not being able to close the door on Jolien d'Hoore meant that the Belgian came through to win again, showcasing her almighty kick on the finishing straight to take back to back stages, this time ahead of Marta Bastianelli and Lotta Lepistö, two renowned sprinters who'd been somewhat quiet thus far in the race.

1 Jolien d'Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) BEL 2'42'25
2 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +st
3 Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN +st
4 Barbara Guarischi (Team Virtu Cycling) ITA +st
5 Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) CAN +st
6 Roxane Fournier (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine) FRA +st
7 Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) NED +st
8 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +st
9 Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle-High 5) SWE +st
10 Claudia Koster (Team Virtu Cycling) NED +st

Of perhaps more lasting impact as we head towards the hills, however, were that the technical run-in meant some small gaps opened up which became time gaps on the line and these could be significant. Longo Borghini, van Vleuten, Spratt, Moolman-Pasio and Guarnier all arrived on the same time as the winner, but with no fewer than 5 of her teammates dropping back following the crash and only Alexis Ryan for company in the closing stages, Niewiadoma was caught behind a split and drops 7 seconds, along with van Dijk, Wiles, Gillow and Blaak while Merino, Stultiens, Canuel and Guderzo lost a further 11 too. Vos sat up and came in over 2 minutes down, while clearly something was a problem for the Canyon team as both Barnes sisters, Cecchini and Amialiusik were all three and a half minutes down, with Cromwell further minutes back. Nicole d'Agostin of Eurotarget and Rachel Neylan of Movistar abandoned following the accidents.

GC:
1 Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) CAN 9'38'31
2 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +6"
3 Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) USA +10"
4 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +11"
5 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +11"
6 Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +11"
7 Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) NED +17"
8 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +18"
9 Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN +24"
10 Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High 5) NED +26"

The other major GC threats are at the following timegaps: Moolman-Pasio, Ludwig +32", Niewiadoma +43", Longo Borghini +49", Guarnier +1'18", Stultiens +1'57", Guderzo +2'08", Vos +2'47", Gillow +3'06", Canuel +3'11".
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Re: Re:

09 Jul 2018 23:24

RedheadDane wrote:
Libertine Seguros wrote:Karo, Anna, Skylar and I all crashed. Skylar then acted as a mechanic and fixed my bike. Anna then gave everything to bring me back to the second group. That was not easy." - @MeganGuarnier


I was really confused there for a sec. Thought it was you (Libertine Seguros) talking about having crashed.
I'm assuming you aren't Megan Guarnier. :lol:


We are all Megan on this blessed day
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10 Jul 2018 18:29

In today's episode of "Things you thought you'd never see"

Lepistö on a solo
User avatar GuyIncognito
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10 Jul 2018 21:30

Well, the climbs are here, and so the sprinters' fun is over. The race has now come full circle to return to where it began, on the western coast of Lago Maggiore, so we're back in Elisa Longo Borghini territory. Video here.

With the main climb of the day coming just over 30km from the line and the difficult stages that follow this one, it was perhaps unsurprising to see a bit of reluctance to make initial moves from the biggest names, though we did get the biggest early break of the race so far, with no fewer than 12 riders going away, with most of the major teams represented, albeit mainly by secondary contenders - Majerus, Cecchini, Roy, Lippert, Fahlin for example, all of whom are top class riders but none of whom are those expected to lead their teams when it comes to the high mountains. As a result, with most of the major teams having riders in the group and nobody wanting to expend energy ahead of tomorrow's first mountaintop finish, the group swiftly gained over a minute before they started to be reeled back, with the main climb of the day - a cat.2 kind of climb of around 6km at medium gradients - the primary target for the big guns. However, the terrain after that was far from flat, with some bumpy slight downhill then followed by a second, more gradual ascent which was uncategorized, before a long and gradual descent toward a flat run-in.

We also, for the first time so far in the race, got coverage from elsewhere in the race than simply the last 20km or so, now that more than that is going to be relevant with the sprinters' stages now in the books. We got to see who is up for it in the climbs, after Sabrina Stultiens - who looked more than comfortable enough on the ascent - started the hostilities. She was pulled back by counter-moves from Niewiadoma, Spratt and Longo Borghini, and the group settled into a rhythm with the quartet basically disputing the front of the bunch as it thinned out, with van Vleuten, Moolman-Pasio, Ludwig, Guarnier, Merino and Canuel among those visible toward the front, before we saw a sight to end all sights, a sprint between Kasia Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini - thankfully for them it was over mountains points as I'm pretty sure those two can sprint faster uphill than they can on the flat. Possibly literally.

However, taking advantage of a lull in action after the climb, a trio soon got away on the rolling terrain, with two riders from smaller teams - Tayler Wiles of Trek-Drops and Alice Maria Arzuffi of Bizkaia Durango-Euskadi Murias, who was already active on stage 1 - were joined by Ruth Winder, placed right near the top of the GC and of course on the Sunweb team that has been trading the jersey among themselves so far in the race, and the trio opened up a fairly useful gap, with obviously the rest of Sunweb unwilling to help bring the move back, and other teams reluctant to expend too much energy, to the point of relatively soporific behaviour. Though they would be well advised not to take these riders lightly - Winder won the Tour de Féminin and was top 10 in Thüringen last season, and Wiles' climbing was surprisingly strong en route to her podium in California - the pace wasn't too high over the rolling terrain, allowing some riders to attempt to bridge the gap, including the ever-combative Rossella Ratto, still trying to recapture her early-career glory (and still exciting and infuriating me in equal measures as a result), but, as the road turned back downhill again, the fact one of the riders pushing the pace in the bunch was Elisa Longo Borghini, trying to take advantage of local knowledge, meant that the chances of such escapades being successful were close to nought. Not that that changed much - the chasing péloton split into two, encouraging Ratto to try again because why not? Rossella was sensing what was becoming increasingly clear: that the trio up front were likely to decide the stage, and so she wanted to interject herself into proceedings; impetus was going out of the chase so she knew the time was now if she had the legs to make the junction... but she didn't, and soon the gap was over a minute. Longo Borghini again pulled back her compatriot on the descent, this time opening up a small gap and taking Lotta Lepistö and Lucinda Brand with her; Lucinda and Elisa are renowned as two of the strongest descenders in the bunch, and being a sprinter obviously Lepistö doesn't have a great deal of fear, so it made for a pretty interesting ride with the four of them on the last steep descending parts before the flat run-in. Again, though, on the flat, the impetus was lost and the group came back together; once the Vos group got back to the front group of the chasers, however, escaping was going to be harder, with WaowDeals policing the front accordingly but not making inroads into the breakaway's lead.

Perhaps it was this that prompted that rare mythical beast cited by GuyIncognito above, with Lotta deciding to try to ride away from the group, though I'm not sure if this was instead part of some strange tactical concoction to attempt to save some energy for Ash or what, as obviously Cervélo are a much smaller concern than the superteams and the help that Lotta is able to provide to Moolman-Pasio in the coming days will be somewhat limited. Also much kudos to Dani Christmas who made it two Bizkaia Durango riders in prominent positions, the Briton trying to run interference on the chase as Barnes chased down Lepistö's attack. A second, more concerted, attack was more profitable for the Finn. Eventually, however, even this one was snuffed out, while up the road the leading trio had finally stopped working with one another now that they were certain to get the stage; Tayler Wiles was in the wrong place, on the front at the kite; as a result the other two sat on until it was time to open up the sprint, which Winder won so easily (given a slight assist by Wiles taking a line into a corner trying to grab Winder's wheel, which made it harder for Arzuffi to follow through the gap Winder had taken) that she was given a time gap; already ahead on the GC and so in the position to take the maglia rosa, she took the stage for good measure. Nevertheless, this was some great exposure and success for both Drops and Bizkaia Durango, as well as some pleasing GC gains for both Winder and Wiles (Arzuffi has dropped some time to be allowed the rope in these breakaways already), capitalising on the reluctance of the chase to commit; it will be unlikely that they can defend such gains in the coming stages but you never know. Marianne Vos won the sprint for 4th place comfortably, from a group of around 40, containing most of the genuine contenders for the overall. Several names like Amy Pieters, Chantal Blaak, Elena Cecchini and Tatiana Guderzo were in the group at +3'51", so it may seem that while we haven't learnt too much about who will win (we've learnt who the most combative on the climbs were but that doesn't necessarily mean they were able to get the most decisive gaps) we are now looking more at who the players in the game are.

Stage:
1 Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) USA 3'01'06
2 Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops) USA +1"
3 Alice Maria Arzuffi (Bizkaia Durango-Euskadi Murias) ITA +1"
4 Marianne Vos (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) NED +1'17"
5 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA +1'17"
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +1'17"
7 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Valcar-PBM) ITA +1'17"
8 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +1'17"
9 Soraya Paladin (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +1'17"
10 Nadia Quagliotto (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) ITA +1'17"

GC
1 Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) USA 12'39'36
2 Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) CAN +1'27"
3 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +1'33"
4 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +1'38"
5 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +1'38"
6 Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) NED +1'44"
7 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +1'49"
8 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +1'49"
9 Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN +1'51"
10 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +2'00"
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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11 Jul 2018 17:22

I'll fill in the details later when I can watch through the entire highlights showing, but very interesting group today on the mountaintop finish at Gerola Alta. Spratt into rosa, and potentially a legit threat to win overall now? Annemiek also makes this one where Orica look frighteningly strong. Canyon and Boels are down to 1 contender, as expected, with Niewiadoma and Guarnier their only riders in the select chasing group, Brand takes over as Sunweb's main threat, and Stultiens proves predictably the best climber on the WaowDeals team, while Longo Borghini continues, I'm afraid, to have that 1-bad-day syndrome that keeps costing her at Giro time. Interestingly though, seeing as she's had a fairly quiet season due to being more tightly marked and used more as a helper than last year when she had a bit of a free hand as her level wasn't known, Cille has put in a great climbing performance today to be up in the upper GC mix alongside Ash, while the fears that the Movistar team might be a bit of a tax fiddle from Abarcá are given the lie by Mavi García and Eider Merino meaning they were one of only a small handful of teams to have more than one rider within a minute of Spratty, even without Jasinska who has been their most reliable performer to date. There has been visible improvement in the level of the team's young Spanish riders with a more professional set up (not intended as a diss on Lointek or Bizkaia-Durango who have been working hard at their level for several years, but budgetary constraints have meant they haven't usually had access to as strong a calendar as Movistar have been able to provide them with, for a start), though Mavi obviously isn't young even if relatively inexperienced on the road, but both have had decent climbing showings before - especially Eider, who really impressed in the Emakumeen Bira last year. Of course there aren't too many really mountainous races for the climbers to really do their thing, and she seems to date at least to be a typical traditional one-dimensional Basque escaladora, but nevertheless, we'll see if she can replicate this on the days to come (or if she's a true Basque escaladora, necessitating an Igor Antón-style crash-out or Mayo-like cracking in the coming days)... the TTT and Winder's great management of her losses today after yesterday's efforts means that she's still up in the podium places, but the GC takes on a much more familiar kind of look, with the majority of the names the ones you would have been expecting pre-race to make up the important positions - van Vleuten, Spratt, Moolman-Pasio, Guarnier, Niewiadoma, with some class versatile riders and prospects in there too, such as Brand and Ludwig. Kirchmann is hanging on to the top 10 (she was 8th a couple of years ago, remember) with Merino and Santesteban knocking on the door, and Longo Borghini one place further back.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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11 Jul 2018 17:37

If Merino is this good here, can't wait to see her on the Zoncolan.
Longo Borghini was expected. I can't find the article now but she said she wouldn't do well on GC because of injury or illness or something I can't quite remember

Libertine Seguros wrote:Cille has put in a great climbing performance today to be up in the upper GC mix alongside Ash


I believe I can sum up your reaction
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11 Jul 2018 23:24

Highlights are here. Let's all agree 45 minute highlight packages are a good thing after the difficulties of the last couple of years.

The stage was Unipuerto, so it was always going to come down to a climbing battle on the final slopes, but obviously the ascents were far more serious than any seen thus far in the race and this was also always going to give us our first real look at who the likely candidates for overall victory are. The péloton were all too keenly aware too, snuffing out most break attempts as they sped towards the base of the final climb, pausing only for an intermediate sprint where WaowDeals prevented any major rivals getting any bonus seconds. The main protagonists as the bunch shed numbers until only the elites were left were Sabrina Stultiens, Elisa Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma, as yesterday, with the Dutchwoman most keen to control the pace, and with Moolman-Pasio and van Vleuten keeping a close watch on her. The group eventually was trimmed to just 12 riders, with Shara Gillow and Asja Paladin among the last to fall victim to Stultiens' pacesetting, as well as the maglia rosa having to settle into the second group on the road along with Erica Magnaldi, Winder paying for yesterday's exertions and leaving Brand to fend alone for Sunweb at the front. When the American let go, she looked like she'd blown up completely so how she managed her losses after that is pretty impressive. The veteran Evgeniya Vysotska, well into her 40s now, also went impressively deep into the stage in the lead group, although the pace was assisted by a few occasions where others would ride up alongside and run a few wide for a bit before allowing Stultiens to resume pacesetting which she seemed only too willing to do, stretching them out with a couple of attacks from the front - though the quickest responses to her were from Moolman-Pasio, Longo Borghini and Merino.

In fact, there was a surreal moment with 7km to go as the Spanish women sought to be the same kind of agitants they were in the men's game back in the 1960s and 70s, with Ane Santesteban attacking and Eider Merino looking very smooth and untroubled chasing her down, before Stultiens took back control, forcing Niewiadoma to expend energy chasing her. Once the former European champion had been caught by her successor in that role, the impetus went out of the move and the second group, with the likes of Gillow and Magnaldi in it, rejoined them. The next attack was from Brand, during a respite in the ascent, with van Vleuten the one to chase her down, followed by Niewiadoma, Moolman-Pasio and Fahlin (!). The counter-attack came from Spratt and there was hesitation - and suddenly, just as at the Emakumeen Bira, the Aussie had space and time. Niewiadoma pulled hard and brought her back, but serious damage was done - just 10 riders were left, with Santesteban trying to rejoin them. Van Vleuten was next to go as Mitchelton-Scott tried to use their numbers; the only other teams with 2 were Cervélo and Movistar, and nobody was expecting the Movistar girls to be at the front, and Cille was now hanging on for grim death. Another dig from Annemiek, and just five riders were up front - Annemiek, Amanda Spratt, Niewiadoma, Moolman-Pasio and more surprisingly Margarita Victoria García. It was at this point that Elisa Longo Borghini disappeared not to be seen again by the elite escaladoras. The chase was led by Brand and Guarnier, with Merino and Ludwig as passengers, not chasing their teammates ahead, and Stultiens paying for her earlier exuberance with Santesteban at the back. Niewiadoma decided the best form of defence was to do what comes naturally to her, i.e. attack, to try to negate those numbers that Mitchelton held as an advantage. Spratt found a good spot to attack and sprinted away on a flatter section where she could accelerate more quickly, and using her teammate as a shield on the left hand side to prevent others from being able to slipstream her, quickly got an advantage which Niewiadoma could not close. A strong recovery ride saw the chase gain legs when Megan Guarnier joined them, but the prospect of an MTT tomorrow with Annemiek running interference meant a cohesive chase of Spratt didn't materialise, allowing the Australian to build an advantage that proved decisive. Merino was the next to bridge the gap, the Spanish champion looking fairly accomplished among these star climbers, before being followed by the rest of the chasing group. Interestingly, then, that the lack of cohesion in the chase encouraged counter attacks, with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig launching an unsuccessful counter-attack in pursuit of Spratt in the last 2km, before Annemiek successfully used that she'd done no work for the last 4km with her teammate leading to gain a couple of extra seconds at the end.

Stage:
1 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS 2'57'49
2 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +29"
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +31"
4 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA +32"
5 Ane Santesteban González (Alé-Cipollini) ESP +32"
6 Margarita Victoria García Cañellas (Movistar) ESP +32"
7 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +34"
8 Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) NED +35"
9 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +35"
10 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +35"

GC
1 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS 15'38'44
2 Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) USA +30"
3 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED +33"
4 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +40"
5 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +58"
6 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +1'06"
7 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +1'16"
8 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA +1'49"
9 Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) CAN +2'08"
10 Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) NED +2'31"

The other star escaladoras from today are further back - Merino at +3'09", Santesteban at +3'11" and García at +3'42". Similarly close are Kathrin Hammes and Asja Paladin, while ELB is at +3'39" so not out of it yet.

GuyIncognito wrote:
Libertine Seguros wrote:Cille has put in a great climbing performance today to be up in the upper GC mix alongside Ash


I believe I can sum up your reaction

Hahaha, but yes I don't think anybody would miss that I'm a fan from the tone of my posts. And of course I love mountain goats too, so after a fairly quiet season I am quite excited to see her up with the best in the mountains here.
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12 Jul 2018 17:19

User avatar GuyIncognito
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12 Jul 2018 22:35

Well, there's a good chance that today we learnt who was going to win the Giro Rosa, and it wasn't a surprise.

Coverage is here.

Anyway, van Vleuten was most people's tip for the win this year, with van der Breggen not starting and with the parcours as it was; she was the one demanding more mountains from the organisers, and she was the one to profit. Last year the organizers included a brutally tough time trial with some painful uphill sections, and Annemiek crushed the field, even catching an ailing Niewiadoma at the finish; this year, with a full-blown cronoescalada on the menu, it seemed perfect for her. After all, Annemiek won the one-climb shootout on the Col d'Izoard, a not dissimilar profile to today's ascent to Campo Moro, and Annemiek is also better than most at dosing efforts when racing one woman against the clock, seeing as she's currently wearing rainbow bands in time trials.

No, what was a surprise was the sheer scale of the destruction. Annemiek gambled on using a time trial bike, whereas most of her rivals opted for their usual road bikes, and it seems to have paid off, as she is at one with her chrono machine, and when even world class climbers like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, the nearest rival she had today, are losing over two minutes, you know that you're watching a race-winning performance. Having been able to relax late on in yesterday's stage while others had to chase Amanda Spratt, van Vleuten had everything fall perfectly into place for her. Perhaps the most remarkable performance of the day is the third place finish for Lucinda Brand, doing better in a mountain time trial than Guarnier, Spratt, Longo Borghini or Niewiadoma and, while the climb may have been better suited to tempos for much of it, it also included some very steep ramps late on and so we have to consider Brand within the contenders; her comparative size relative to slender climbers like Niewiadoma may place her at a disadvantage on the Zoncolan but for now she's climbing as strongly as almost anybody and setting up a remarkable GC finish.

The four climbers I mentioned above were all very close to one another in time, showcasing how competitive the climbing has become in level, and in the order mentioned above. After them came Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who continues her good form although clearly she may be sacrificed for Ash given how strongly the South African went, putting the best part of a minute into that quartet and it's only the incredible performance from Annemiek that prevents her standing out. The trio of Spaniards who helped light up the race yesterday all finished within the top 20 here but not so decisively as when there were others to manage efforts against; Merino the weakest, but then she is also the least experienced of the three. Most impressively, perhaps, Alice Maria Arzuffi, the combative cyclocross specialist riding on the smallest team in the race, and who has been in two big breakaways in the flatter first half of the race, preserved some more energy yesterday and put in a very impressive 9th place today, while Tayler Wiles also put in a top 10.

Of yesterday's major players Sabrina Stultiens is the one to suffer most; she lost a minute or more to all of the main contenders, two to Moolman-Pasio and well over four to Annemiek; perhaps that willingness to do the work on the front for so long cost her. She remains in the top 10 of the GC, but the time gaps now look a lot more like a typical Giro, and her grip on it is somewhat tenuous. The time gaps were herculean; Ruth Winder managed to just about preserve her own GC position, finishing 22nd on the day, but she was the last woman within six entire minutes of van Vleuten. Partly I wonder if the lack of real TT mileage and especially MTT mileage in the women's calendar means riders have little experience of setting their own pace on a genuine, sustained climb without the benefit of drafting and/or others to help pace them; some riders looked pretty far gone at the finishing line so perhaps a few went out too hard and paid for their efforts later on? Guderzo and Vos, who used to dice for the GC here (the latter successfully on multiple occasions of course), both lost over 8 minutes, and the most outclassed climbers among the national péloton riders were over 20 minutes back, and will be reliant on the generosity of the race jury to be allowed to continue to race.

Now, it looks like Annemiek will need a monstrous pajará to throw the race away, but there's plenty to play for among the placements. Especially regards the podium, with Moolman-Pasio just one second behind Spratt, and Brand less than 10 seconds off the podium.

Stage:
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED 46'06
2 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +2'29"
3 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +2'54"
4 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA +3'17"
5 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +3'26"
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +3'28"
7 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +3'38"
8 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +4'06"
9 Alice Maria Arzuffi (Bizkaia Durango-Euskadi Murias) ITA +4'18"
10 Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops) USA +4'30"

GC after stage 7:
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) NED 16'25'23
2 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS +2'53"
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +2'54"
4 Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) NED +3'01"
5 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +4'21"
6 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA +4'33"
7 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) DEN +4'39"
8 Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) USA +5'52"
9 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +6'34"
10 Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) NED +6'36"
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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12 Jul 2018 23:49

That was a huge ride by van Vleuten.
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13 Jul 2018 00:04

claude cat wrote:That was a huge ride by van Vleuten.


An amazing ride. She has seen everything in her cycling career. I'll never forget her horrible crash in the Olympics. But now she is back at the pinnacle, current World TT Champion and looking at a very possible Giro title.
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