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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.

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18 Jun 2018 18:21

Think it also comes to what what towns bid for starts and finishes of stages - My limited knowledge of English geography suggests that this year's tour was held in flatter parts of England and Wales.
yaco
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18 Jun 2018 20:01

Certainly the race wasn't in the toughest parts of the countries geographically, but nevertheless there are a few fairly easy tweaks that could be made to make a more selective race. Stage 1 you really can't do anything with I don't think - East Anglia doesn't have any selective hills and certainly none near Southwold, and I'm just happy they made a pretty safe run-in after the chaotic Aldeburgh finish a few years ago when Lizzie Armitstead won the stage then crashed out while celebrating, and the crazy Norwich finish in 2016 with about fourteen corners in the last 2km and a pinch point with 250m to go.

Stage 2 you could clone almost outright but make the circuit around Daventry shorter to get an additional climb of Newnham Hill in, to make it harder for the bunch to swallow that Niewiadoma/Longo Borghini/Vos/Rowe move, or incentivize them to persist more:

Image

Stage 3 finished in an area which is very flat, and so there wasn't much they could do with the run-in.

Stage 4, however, they wanted to loop around Evesham to use Snowshill in tribute to Sharon Laws, for whom it was her training climb, which I understand - however they then had a very long looping section with very little climbing back to Worcester which neutered all the moves. There's the Malvern Hills the other side of Worcester which aren't huge by any stretch of the imagination but could be put close enough to the finish to incentivize some moves especially with a couple of hills back to back. My suggestion for this stage mimics stage 1's format of looping around and returning to the host town, because that way I can keep the sprint points that were used in the real life race, so the towns that paid up for hosting them still get them, making the stage fully achievable:

Image

Stage 5 was the most disappointing because even if they can't use the toughest run-in around or many of the hardest climbs in Wales, at least in any way close to the finish, the run-in was a total letdown. Here I've cloned almost the whole stage through the difficult parts but instead of running down the Conwy river estuary, adding another climb on to the plateau and then adding a loop around Colwyn Bay with two ascents of a short punchy climb out of the town; the second lap is optional (we only cross the finishing line once before the finish, it's one-and-a-half circuits) - the finish is in exactly the same spot as the real stage, but facing the opposite direction. The punchy climb is part of the way up to Bryn-y-Maen so otherwise you could have a longer climb (the second half is gradual) and repeat the descent down from the 110km mark to finish in the same direction as the real stage.

Image
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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20 Jun 2018 06:54

Cille calling out the UCI again, this time on the fact that the big talking points of the Worlds course - the mid-TT climb and the super-steep final Gramartboden ascent in the RR - are both excised from the women's race. And if the talking points are not there in the women's race, then it changes the racing as obviously the racing on a medium length, medium gradient climb and on a short, super steep climb will differ. While the women have been short-changed in recent history - the Olympic RR in London featured just 2 times up Box Hill as opposed to 6 for the men, because the organizers preferred to have them start and finish in the city, and in Rio they only climbed the Vista Chinesa climb once as opposed to 4 for the men, they at least were using the same key note climbs so the race was comparable. In Doha, they didn't go out in the desert at all, where all of the intrigue was created in the men's race, so just had a pan-flat urban circuit to work with, and in Bergen they weren't allowed to put the climb in their ITT - and now this, with the all important final climb that everybody's been talking about only there for the elite men - sure this means they don't get to see it from other races first, but it also means that other racers do not have the opportunity to provide the same spectacle. I know we frequently get the "the riders make the race" argument, but in this instance that has two issues. Firstly, that the riders are not being presented equal opportunities to make the race, and secondly, that the lower awareness of women's cycling means it only has a few occasions with the kind of audience that the World Championships will undoubtedly attain, and therefore if women's cycling is to progress in terms of people's knowledge and awareness of it, then maximising the riders' opportunities to produce exciting events would be beneficial, rather than keeping all of the less interesting parts of the race and limiting the interesting parts, running the risk of perpetuating the "women's cycling is boring" fallacy that is continually brought up, citing a few disappointing high-profile events on lacklustre parcours where the men's races were equally boring.

I still think that the women will be able to provide a good spectacle in Innsbruck, and combative and interesting grimpeuses like Cille herself will be a large part of that. And with her climbing prowess and TT strength she'd also be in a better position to compete for the TT if the course was more like the men's one too, of course. But that's not to take away from the overall point, which is that whereas the circuit-based Worlds (Richmond, Ponferrada, Firenze etc.) offer equal opportunities, there has been an increase in recent years of unconventional courses for major road races, including variations on circuits, and many of the more interesting innovations have been included on a men-only basis. If you look at most of those circuit-based Worlds, when the men's race is good so is the women's (Mendrisio, Firenze), when the men's is disappointing so is the women's (Copenhagen).

To leave with Cille's most pertinent point:
The point is not that we want to be measured against the men. The point is that I want our routes to be as exciting as the men’s routes.
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

22 Jun 2018 15:39

Hi,

I have a couple of questions:
From the women's races that I have watched over the years (admittedly not so many, partly due to lack of broadcasting), it seems to me that quite often there is an almost constant attacking off the front, but less often formation of a break-away that gets clear. It is as if in that moment when 3-10 riders are few tens of meters ahead of the bunch and they should tuck in frequently taking turns to push on and get clear, these riders keep attacking each other or sit up, both of which leads to no break being established. Of course this also happens in men's races, and or course sometimes breaks do get established in women's racing, but it seems to me that the frequency is slightly different.

1) Is this observation correct, or have I simply watched a non-representive sample of women's races?

2) If indeed there is such a trend, does anyone have an idea why that is? Shorter stages / less demanding parcour, different team tactics (do teams have same size as in men's races?), something else?

Come to think of it, even the men's worlds race often has a similar tendency with frequently people trying to get off the front but often no break establishing. If that is the case, it would perhaps imply that it is related to team dynamics, since at worlds it is largely the same riders but different team compositions.
hmronnow
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Re:

22 Jun 2018 21:53

Libertine Seguros wrote:Cille calling out the UCI again,
[Long post]
To leave with Cille's most pertinent point:
The point is not that we want to be measured against the men. The point is that I want our routes to be as exciting as the men’s routes.


Also, imagine how spectacular the images of the men making it up the final climb are gonna be.
Now imagine if we could get similar images for the women.

That was actually one of her points in this article.
Aka The Ginger One.
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

01 Jul 2018 21:26

hmronnow wrote:Hi,

I have a couple of questions:
From the women's races that I have watched over the years (admittedly not so many, partly due to lack of broadcasting), it seems to me that quite often there is an almost constant attacking off the front, but less often formation of a break-away that gets clear. It is as if in that moment when 3-10 riders are few tens of meters ahead of the bunch and they should tuck in frequently taking turns to push on and get clear, these riders keep attacking each other or sit up, both of which leads to no break being established. Of course this also happens in men's races, and or course sometimes breaks do get established in women's racing, but it seems to me that the frequency is slightly different.

1) Is this observation correct, or have I simply watched a non-representive sample of women's races?

2) If indeed there is such a trend, does anyone have an idea why that is? Shorter stages / less demanding parcour, different team tactics (do teams have same size as in men's races?), something else?

Come to think of it, even the men's worlds race often has a similar tendency with frequently people trying to get off the front but often no break establishing. If that is the case, it would perhaps imply that it is related to team dynamics, since at worlds it is largely the same riders but different team compositions.

This is a fairly typical observation I would say; there is far less by way of the typical "break of the day" exploits and far more of the "attack - catch - attack - catch" until the elastic snaps in women's cycling than you find amongst the men concurrently. The lack of cooperation can often be for a variety of reasons - all of which are familiar from men's cycling; you're dragging somebody you don't want to bring with you, a GC rival or somebody who is threatening one of your teammates, you know that one of the key teams isn't represented in the break and it is therefore doomed, you want to forage alone or are afraid of one of the sprinters in the group if the break survives, you were just the decoy attack, and so on.

In terms of reasons for that, they do vary. One key reason I would venture to suggest is that women's cycling carries a few similarities to old style men's cycling, as after all we should consider the purpose of those traditional "break of the day" antics in men's cycling; a lot of the time when women's races have been derided as lacking in action this has been on flat courses where the only action in equivalent men's races is the very artificial forming of a pre-arranged breakaway that is doomed to be caught by the sprinters' teams - hardly a riveting day in most cases. Those 'break of the day' groups are predominantly made up of smaller teams and wildcards getting their sponsor some airtime; with so many women's races not televised or at least not televised until much later on in the race, the benefits to the sponsors of spending 2-3 hours at the head of the race is limited; simultaneously, quite often especially in one-day races, the difference in depth of the péloton and the concentration of many of the top talents into a small handful of superteams means that often the smallest teams in the bunch are not in the position to gainfully attack the péloton to the extent that they make 2-3-4 minute advantages, especially not in one-day races where the pace is often high from the word go. The lack of long-form stage races and shorter distances makes preservation of energy less paramount and so rest periods in the bunch that enables such a break to consolidate are less common; however we are seeing this develop over time as the Giro especially in its second half will often see some steaming hot stages where local teams try to salvage something from the race and domestiques on top teams will go up the road without any ability to threaten the GC but solely to take pressure off their own team in the chase; similarly, for the earlier reason, the beleaguered Hitec Products team made sure to contribute to attacks and make sizable solo breakaways in almost every stage of the Women's Tour, one of the best-televised women's races, maximising their opportunity for sponsor airtime, a stylistic choice they may not have made had they been in a stronger position financially.

Also, typically women's races have teams of 6, with 7 at the Giro often. This does mean, especially in the superteams like Boels, Canyon and Sunweb, there's usually only a couple of riders specifically entrusted with domestiquing. This often means that you will see high profile riders up toward the front of the bunch quite early on, as races where one specific rider is the team's chosen option and this is not negotiable based on conditions on the road are few, unless that team is comparatively small and its leaders' skillsets do not impinge on one another; Cervélo-Bigla, for example, are most likely to win races with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio or Lotta Lepistö, neither of whom are likely to compete for leadership on the basis that most races Ash can win, Lotta can't, and most races Lotta can win, Ash can't unless the race breaks up far more than anticipated. Alé-Cipollini, on the other hand, have got two bonanza sprinters in Chloe Hosking and Marta Bastianelli, and they do quite often have issues with both of them contesting the win and neither benefiting fully from the leadout as a result.

That strength in depth is also one of the reasons breaks can often peter out; as a hypothetical situation, you have a break forming in a race with some of the biggest teams. A team like Boels only have a couple of riders at the most in any given race, usually lower in their hierarchy and developing prospects, who are expendable solely for chasing to help. The likes of Jip van den Bos or Anna Plichta fulfil these roles. If Jip's chased down the last break, you don't want her to just keep chasing until she's dropped, but you don't have many other riders who are full-on domestiques. But if somebody like Chantal Blaak or Amy Pieters joins that group, they don't need to expend too much energy to get into that group, and their presence makes it somebody else's problem as unless we're looking at a full-on mountain stage, of which there are few in women's cycling, they can say to the rest of the bunch, we think we can win this race with Chantal or Amy. Many smaller teams in the break may take their chances but others may not want to work with somebody as strong as that as winning the stage is unlikely against a rider of their calibre. A team like Canyon might counter-monitor the break, but it's got to be the right rider. If the parcours is flat, if they send somebody like Hannah Barnes, Boels may counter-counter-monitor if they fear Barnes' sprint, and the break goes nowhere as two major teams are chasing it down to put people in it. If it's hilly, though, Boels might just ignore somebody like Barnes as a counter-monitor, because they still think they can win it with their riders in the group, so somebody like Amialiusik might be a better bet. But that raises a second problem in that other big teams like Boels may fear that a rider who can climb like that going up the road in a hilly race is a set-up move for somebody like Niewiadoma behind, and they don't want to give somebody like Kasia someone to work with up the road, so the move gets neutralized for that reason.

A further issue is brought about by the fairly limited number of truly mountainous races, in that there's a proliferation of races where time bonuses can be important (especially a problem for the Women's Tour in its formative years) and so the péloton simply wants to contest the intermediate sprints as a result.

Overall, this means that both the number of situations where a much more high profile break than you would see in a similar level men's race over similar parcours gets away (often you'll find breaks with names like Guarnier, Brennauer, Ludwig, van Vleuten and the likes in flat stages when you'd ordinarily never see their equivalents in the men's péloton), because all of the biggest teams are happy with their representation in the group and none of the teams who want into the group are strong enough to pull it back, and the number of situations where the bunch has a vested interest in keeping the péloton together far longer, or pulling a breakaway back far sooner, than you would ordinarily see in a similar level men's race, are higher than one might be used to from watching solely men's cycling.
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

01 Jul 2018 23:23

National championships - best if we do this as a round-up I guess.

Austria
ITT - Martina Ritter took her sixth straight title, by a narrow margin over fellow 36-year-old MTB specialist Barbara Mayer, in a day for the veterans - nobody under 27 in the top 10.
RR - Sarah Rijkes was the smartest from a group of four along with Mayer, Ritter and another MTB specialist, Angelika Tazreiter, to take it by a few seconds.

Belarus
ITT - with the likes of Tuhai not having been built for the chrono, this would still have been easy for Alena Amialiusik had the field been at its strongest, which it wasn't.

Belgium
ITT - Ann-Sophie Duyck was the class of the field here and it showed on the results sheet, over a minute ahead of second-placed Kopecky.
RR - Lotto-Soudal eventually made their numbers count from a four woman breakaway after threatening to lose from there. Annelies Dom took the title ahead of Valérie Demey, with CX champion Sanne Cant making up the podium ahead of Sofie de Vuyst. Kaat Hannes had been part of the move originally but dropped back.

Brazil
ITT - high drama as just 3 seconds separated eventual winner Tamires Radatz from veteran mercenary Flavia Oliveira, with Ana Paula Polegatch fitting into the gap between them - very tight.
RR - in a hilly course, however, the domestic péloton could do nothing about a rider of Oliveira's class and experience, and she rode over 8 minutes into the bunch.

Canada
ITT - a narrow win for Leah Kirchmann ahead of Karol-Ann Canuel as the big teams' representatives fought out the head of the field. Kirsti Lay was best of the native group for Rally.
RR - Rally's strength in numbers counted better here, with 20-year-old Katherine Maine outsprinting The Cyclery's Kinley Gibson ahead of a 15-woman group counting all the biggest stars but three Rally and two Cyclery riders to run interference.

Czech Republic
ITT - domination for Dukla Praha as they took the top 5, with 22-year-old prospect Tereza Korvasová eventually triumphing over the more experienced Jarmila Machacová and Melissa van Neck.
RR - Machacová used her smarts to outwit defending champion Nikola Nosková at the end, with the chase hampered by the contention of the victory in the concurrent Slovak race, won by Terezia Medvedová with a good margin of over four minutes in the end.

Denmark
ITT - a friendly rivalry may break out over time between Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Pernille Mathiesen for this title, but for the moment Cille is the woman to beat, taking her third in a row. MTB superstar Annika Langvad was 3rd, close to Pernille's time, in a hotly contested race - 6 within a minute over 24km.
RR - a small group contested the win, with former World Champion Amalie Dideriksen victorious despite being outnumbered by Cervélo, who tried to lead Emma Norsgaard out with Cille as pilot after unsuccessful attempts to escape.

Finland
ITT - Lotta Lepistö is hardly renowned as an ITT specialist, but in the national scene she still stands above her fellow pros, with big gaps back to Antonia Gröndahl and Sari Saareläinen.
RR - 8 women built up a huge lead on the field, and Lotta was able to comfortably outmuscle them in the sprint to the line.

France
ITT - four in a row for Audrey Cordon-Ragot, but her reign may be coming to an end shortly - Juliette Labous is getting pretty close, and she's only 19...
RR - Aude Biannic of Movistar survived a few seconds ahead of a large group, containing most of the main contenders, from which 21-year-old Gladys Verhulst surprisingly outperformed the better known Dréville, Jeuland and even Roxane Fournier in the sprint to the line.

Germany
ITT - A close fight between Lisa Brennauer and defending champion Trixi Worrack ended in a third national title for the former, and Lisa Klein, whose skillset reflects Brennauer's somewhat, being the only other rider within a minute.
RR - a seven-woman break contested the win a few seconds ahead of the péloton, with another young Sunweb prospect, 20-year-old Liane Lippert, taking the victory ahead of even younger Canyon talent Christa Riffel and BTC's comparative veteran (she's 23) Corinna Lechner 3rd.

Great Britain
ITT - with no Hayley Simmonds or Claire Rose, the event was missing its two strongest specialists in the discipline, leaving it to the all-round pros. Hannah Barnes proved stronger than her younger sister to take the title.
RR - pretty impressive shock result, as in a reduced sprint, 19-year-old Jessica Roberts of Team Breeze, a UK national calendar outfit, took the title ahead of Dani Rowe.

Ireland
ITT - Over a comparatively marathon 35km, Kelly Murphy of the British Juniper team took a sizable win over defending champion Eileen Burns.
RR - crucially three-time defending champion Lydia Boylan missed the key move of 5 and finished over four minutes down, freeing up 39-year-old journeywoman Eve McCrystal to take her first title from the ensuing group kick, having been 2nd two years ago.

Israel
ITT - WaowDeals' Roten Gafinovitz took a convincing win over the country's other main pros, Omer Shapiro of Cylance and Paz Bash who is presently a hired gun.
RR - Shapiro beat Gafinovitz in a two-up sprint as they rode over a minute into a Bash-led chase, with all outside the top 5 over a quarter of an hour back.

Italy
RR - a shock result as Valcar-PBM's Marta Cavalli confounded expectations to squeeze away from the more established names, taking a two second advantage to the line ahead of a sprint impressively won by WWT U23 leader Sofia Bertizzolo ahead of the veterans Bastianelli and Bronzini.

Japan
ITT - as more or less the only pro in the field, Eri Yonamine took her 5th title - fourth consecutive - with a margin of almost 2 minutes over 43-year-old Miyoko Karami.
RR - with Hagiwara still some way off where she was five years ago Yonamine gratefully took her third consecutive double, soloing in three minutes ahead of Hiromi Kaneko and Dutch-based Tsubasa Makise.

Kazakhstan
ITT - no sign of defending champion Sokovnina, who's left the sport, so Natalya Saifutdinova stepped in to take her first title since 2010, by just 2 seconds from Faina Potapova. Quite a few promising performances from non-Astana riders to keep the team honest.
RR - here the Astana numbers counted, with Saifutdinova, Iskakova and Umutzhanova riding five minutes into the field before contesting the finale, which Saifutdinova took to double up her national titles and add to the road titles she picked up in 2009, 2015 and 2016 previously.

Latvia
ITT - a very easy win for Lija Laizane, the country's only contracted women's pro at present, 2 minutes ahead of prospect Viktoriya Sipovica and 6 minutes ahead of anybody else.
RR - an even easier win for Laizane, the Aromitalia rider simply riding away from everybody and time trialling her way around the course to a 19-minute victory margin.

Lithuania
ITT - Daiva Tuslaite of Alé-Cipollini took her first title with a reasonably clear lead over teenager Olivia Baleisyte.
RR - controversial Aromitalia leader Rasa Leleivyte dropped in to win the race after Tuslaite missed the move when she and Baleisyte got away; riding two against one they put minutes into Tuslaite before Rasa outsmarted the newcomer.

Luxembourg
ITT - a comfortable and predictable win for Christine Majerus, a minute ahead of the country's two other pros on the start list, Anne-Sophie Harsch and Elise Maes.
RR - an even more comfortable and predictable win for Majerus, four minutes up on Maes, six minutes on Harsch, and over a quarter of an hour on everybody else.

Netherlands
ITT - one of the tensest fought of all national titles this, with four world class riders in the discipline - so much so that defending WORLD champion Annemiek van Vleuten missed the podium. Rather, Ellen van Dijk took her third title and first in five years, ahead of 2015 champion Anna van der Breggen and Lucinda Brand.
RR - no sign of the jersey again, as Chantal Blaak successfully defended, and she's busy wearing the rainbow bands. Boels were able to play the numbers game from the group of 18 that formed, with their strength in depth better than Waowdeals, the only other team to manage three in the group. The marchers in orange also managed the one-two with Blaak soloing away from the counter-move with Amy Pieters then outsprinting Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild from the remnants. Credit to cyclocross prospect Fleur Nagengast for making the selection, taking some serious scalps.

Norway
ITT - some positive coverage for Hitec with a lockout of the podium, led by Line Marie Gulliksen, and backed by Thea Thorsen and Vita Heine.
RR - Heine soloed in over three minutes up on a chase group of 8 largely consisting of her teammates, with Susanne Andersen sprinting to take 2nd. It's Vita's third straight jersey in only her fourth attempt at the Norwegian championships after changing her nationality from Latvia in 2014.

Poland
ITT - from 3rd to 10th 8 riders were within 30 seconds of each other, but they were some way adrift of Małgorzata Jasińska, the Movistar veteran taking the title ahead of Pawlowska.
RR - with no Niewiadoma and no Plichta the scene was set for Jasińska to double up, and she duly obliged, soloing in ahead of a group of the strongest remaining within the race, with 21-year-old track specialists Nikoł Płosaj and
Daria Pikulik rounding off the podium.

Romania
ITT - Ana Maria Covrig is the only current pro contract rider from Romania, and the gulf in class is evident, with the Italian-born rider putting over 2 minutes into 2nd place.
RR - one of the most one-sided races of the whole nationals period, Covrig's winning margin being 24 minutes in the end.

Russia
ITT - Olga Zabelinskaya takes what is, remarkably, only her second national title, by over a minute. Pleasingly though the rest of the race is for the young, with Kseniya Tsymbaliuk and teenage phenomenon Maria Novolodskaya rounding out the podium.
RR - former BePink rider Margarita Syrodoeva won a two-up sprint against Anna Potokina, not far ahead of a 6 woman group where defending champion Nastya Iakovenko was being leaned upon. Syrodoeva doesn't have a UCI team but she's only 23 and has some decent results to get a team.

Slovenia
ITT - these essentially were part of an earlier event, and were won by newly-Slovene Eugenia Bujak with a handy margin over fellow BTC riders Pintar and Batagelj.
RR - similarly, BTC dominate the proceedings as you might expect, but despite Bujak being able to outsprint basically any Slovene rider you can name, the team preferred to break the race up, which benefited Polona Batagelj, who won after she and Urša Pintar isolated Špela Kern, one of the only other pros not wearing a BTC jersey, and worked her over until dropping her, with Batagelj having the margin for victory.

Spain
ITT - the fledgling Movistar team's bogarting of top Spanish talent meant they annihilated this with all of the top 5, led by late convert Mavi García ahead of Basque climber Eider Merino.
RR - similar dominance saw Merino win ahead of teammate Gloria Rodríguez on an uphill gradual finish, which similarly allowed García to round out the podium ahead of Ane Santesteban who was being forced to chase three minutes back.

Sweden
ITT - Lisa Norden defends her title with a comfortable win over Emilia Fahlin. The other pros were well down, but there were some young prospects in the intervening positions, enticingly.
RR - Fahlin continues her standing policy of winning the jersey once every five years after 2008 and 2013. She outsprinted Norden in a two-up, everybody else falling nine minutes or more behind.

Switzerland
ITT - Nicole Hänselmann took a comfortable victory over 36-year-old Ironman triathlete Nicola Spirig and 48-year-old Marcia Eicher. Defending champion Marlen Reusser was 5th.
RR - It was a day for the offroaders, with Jolanda Neff taking the win in her first road venture since Rio, a few seconds ahead of a group of 6 led by fellow mountain biker Sina Frei and ITT champion Hänselmann.

USA
ITT - the evergreen Amber Neben, 43 years young and without a team, took the win and defended her title ahead of Tayler Wiles and Emma White in a narrow victory.
RR - A first stars-and-stripes jersey for the US' biggest current star, Coryn Rivera, outsprinting Megan Guarnier from the splintered remains of a 14-woman group. Emma White, 20 years young and riding for Rally, backed up her ITT medal with another here.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

02 Jul 2018 22:21

Libertine Seguros wrote:Belgium
RR - Lotto-Soudal eventually made their numbers count from a four woman breakaway after threatening to lose from there. Annelies Dom took the title ahead of Valérie Demey, with CX champion Sanne Cant making up the podium ahead of Sofie de Vuyst. Kaat Hannes had been part of the move originally but dropped back.


Cant almost made a real breakthrough on the road. I don't know if she panicked or tried to drop the others on what was effectively a gentle cobbled finish, but she sprinted with a very very long way to go and ended up leading out the other two who were on her wheel waiting to jump the whole time
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03 Jul 2018 23:13

Right... it's July, and that means it's time for the biggest and best race of the calendar, where the World Tour's finest racers will battle for supremacy tooth and nail on the hallowed mountains and across plains. Yes, that's right, I said they'd battle, rather than look at each other lovingly amidst a parade, so I must be talking about the Giro Rosa, rather than a three week cyclosportif for pros in France.

The 2018 Giro Rosa has, rather like the 2016 Women's Tour, heeded some of the criticisms of its predecessor; most notably Annemiek van Vleuten bewailed that last year's less mountainous edition which headed far further south than is common in the Giro did not give her or other elite climbers enough chances to make headway, although in each climbing stage the same trio of specialists would escape - van Vleuten, van der Breggen and Longo Borghini - usually followed by the same duo of Guarnier and Niewiadoma for good measure - so it may have been a moot point. That said, however, the organizers have seen fit to ensure that, after some successful formulae being developed over the preceding years, they have gone back to that well, including some serious climbing, although this particular edition is perhaps overly imbalanced the other way; Mara Abbott and Claudia Lichtenberg having both retired is a shame on a route like this, while if Emma Pooley had stuck around, this would appear to be an ideal route for her to right the wrong that is the most glaring omission in her palmarès too.

This year's is a northern edition, and it begins with a 15,5km TTT in Verbania, which hosted the finale of the 2015 edition. Completely pan flat, it will likely see some medium-sized gaps, certainly I prefer a prologue in this spot, as is well-known, but there will be gaps from day one here. The infinite transfers that characterise the Giro Rosa rear their heads again too, with a very long transfer to Ovada, north of Genoa, for stage 2, which is divided into an undulating first half and a flat second half with the introduction for the first time to the Giro Rosa of the notorious Giro GPM classification rule, which states that on any given rolling or undulating stage, points are given out on a single climb selected at random. This should be for the sprinters, but they'll need to survive some early selections. Stage 3 will be more to their liking, a pure flat stage featuring 8 laps of the same pan-flat Po Valley stage in the suburbs on the very fringes of the extended Milano conurbation.

Stage 4 sees the return of the race to large urban areas, with the stage starting and finishing in Piacenza, hometown of double World Champion Giorgia Bronzini. And it's a stage she would doubtless like, given that it ought to be comparatively selective with that climb in the middle, but ending with a reasonably clear sprint in mind. The following day the riders are almost back where they started, after another colossal transfer takes them back to Lago Maggiore, for a stage starting and finishing in Omegna, hometown of Elisa Longo Borghini, the race's most likely home contender. It features the first serious climb, a cat.2 from Lesa towards the shoulder of the Mottarone, but this is 35km of bumpy terrain from the line so while there could well be some racing made on that period, the difficult second half of the race could dissuade moves on the bumpy run-in.

After that, however, se armó un zapatiesto. Stage 6 begins in the area near Monza - so another long transfer back towards where we were at stage 3 - and runs into the Alps, with a Unipuerto stage that will see the climbers first test their legs, on a summit finish at Gerola Alta, a station on the way to Pescegallo, south of Morbegno and well-known to traceurs as it backs directly off of the Passo San Marco. This is the profile, up until 5,5km to go.

Image

This is followed by something very rare in the Giro Rosa - a cronoescalada, from Lanzada to Alpe Gera di Campo Moro. Climbing over 1000m in 15km, this is likely going to be where the biggest gaps are created, especially from kilometres 8-13 which average 9%. The ITT matches the last 15km of this profile:

Image

Never seen by the men's Giro, this will therefore be a pretty impressive spectacle. The last MTT the women took on in the Giro was on Monte Serra in 2007, and so very few who rode that day will still be around in the Giro Rosa 2018. Stage 8 sees another humongous transfer, taking the women from a mountaintop in the height of the Lombardian Alps to the Venetian lowlands just at the edge of the Po Valley, before a fairly undulating stage which nevertheless includes three climbs on a complex criss-cross route around the region, which also includes Marostica, home of Giovanni Battaglin and Tatiana Guderzo, and Sarcedo, home of Alessandra Cappellotto, Italy's first woman to wear the rainbow jersey on the road. The final climb is just 8,7km from home so there's a good chance of enticing movement in the bunch. Although at the same time, stage 9, while another Unipuerto stage, is the big battleground that the race has staked everything on. While the men are still winding their way northwards through what promises to be among the most tedious weeks of racing known to man, the women are continuing the ongoing trend that they lost sight of last year, where the women get to race on an iconic summit each year - from Madonna del Ghisallo, to Aprica, to the Mortirolo, to the Stelvio, the women are slowly getting their time to shine on the classics... and this year it's doubly appropriate, since it's a climb which was first discovered in racing by the Giro Donne - [urlhttp://www.cicloweb.it/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/18girorosa9.jpg]Monte Zoncolan[/url]. The women only did it from Sutrio in 1998, but now they get the full amphitheatre with the full monstrosity from Ovaro. I'm sure you don't need me to show you the profile but here it is anyway:

Image

The final stage follows the recent formula that has worked well with Bèe in 2015 and with Torre del Greco in 2017 - a stage with a single medium-mountain climb before a descent to the line. It looks pretty interesting, and indeed the final climb looks pretty intriguing too, with some serious ramps, and seeing as nobody will have anything to lose here, it could well be a strong one to race.

Image

With no individual time trial other than the MTT to Campo Moro, we do run the risk that once we know who the strongest climber is, she runs away with it, though there are no immediate obvious "all for her and not for the others" candidates like Mara in previous years. That feeling is only reinforced by the knowledge that 2015 and 2017 champion Anna van der Breggen does not intend to start, instead looking to test herself in mountain biking ahead of an assault on the World Championships, given the favourable course for her and the knowledge that most of the other world class climbers will have a very tough Giro in their legs.

For the most part though, everybody else is present and correct. Anna's absence does mean that only two former winners will line up - Megan Guarnier, who takes over as ersatz team leader for Boels-Dolmans, who won the 2016 edition and was fourth last year, and Marianne Vos, who leads her WaowDeals charges and who won in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The rest of last year's podium is there of course - Annemiek van Vleuten won the Unipuerto La Course race last year and was the queen of the mountains en route to 3rd on the GC, and Elisa Longo Borghini is also a former QOM, finished 2nd last season and has been the best Italian rider at 3 of the last 4 editions.

Of last year's top 10, the rest are all on hand save for Claudia Lichtenberg who has unfortunately retired (doubly unfortunate as she would have loved this parcours). Amanda Spratt will likely be the right hand woman for van Vleuten, but Kasia Niewiadoma will likely be the leader for her Canyon-SRAM team, having been in the top 10 of each of the last three Giri and best young rider twice; it was in the longer climbs of the Giro that she first made her name in 2014, but she's not really imposed herself on a world class field in this kind of race (she did win the Giro del Trentino by destroying a mountaintop finish, but the field wasn't as deep as this) and even despite having a former podium rider - Pauline Ferrand-Prévot would have won the race outright in 2014 if not for time bonuses and playing a loyal domestique to Vos on the final stage. For Sunweb, last year's GC lead went to Lucinda Brand; I would have thought this route would be too tough for her, but you never know; last year Cervélo-Bigla were cut off at the knees early by illness causing their stage racing leader, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, to drop out early; Ash is an elite climber and podiumed La Flèche Wallonne of course, as well as having finished 4th back in 2015, the last time she finished the Giro. Cille is having a quieter season than last year's breakout as she's much more tightly marked now, but she did win the maglia bianca for best U23 last season which is worth mentioning.

Other wildcards to throw into the mix include Janneke Ensing, the ever-combative ex-speed skater for Alé-Cipollini; Tatiana Guderzo, who has podiumed the race and taken the best Italian jersey as recently as 2016, who has left the beleaguered Hitec team and will line up for BePink (unfortunately no Nosková), Karol-Ann Canuel who has been top 10 while domestiquing here before, and in this Boels lineup which looks surprisingly light on GC threats with van der Breggen out and the rest of the team focusing around their allrounders save for Guarnier's mountain leadership, she may get more freedom than she ordinarily would; Amialiusik is the third prong of Canyon's mountain attack; and who knows, maybe this will be the time that Francesca Cauz remembers what she used to be and climbs like it's 2013? Other riders with decent climbing backgrounds to look out for include Shara Gillow, Polona Batagelj, Sabrina Stultiens, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, Lucy Kennedy, Erica Magnaldi, Eider Merino and Malgorzata Jasinska. Oh, and 43-year-old Yevgeniya Vysotska has shown up for SC Michela Fanini.

So, that's the climbers; how about that sprintier first half of the race? Boels seem to be more keen on the flat to rolling parts of the race, with Pieters probably the sprinter of choice, or maybe Majerus. Cervélo have Lepistö, Canyon have left the Barnes sisters at home but bring Alexis Ryan, both Marta and Chloe Hosking line up for Alé, Giorgia Bronzini will as mentioned hope to have an impact on home roads, Jolien d'Hoore will be foraging for Mitchelton, Roxane Fournier for FDJ, Sunweb will be hoping for some more selective races so that van Dijk, Brand or Kirchmann can finish them off, while Kirsten Wild is here for Wiggle too.

With no other surviving Grand Tours, this is really the focal point of the calendar in terms of racing prestige, if not coverage and prize money. RAI have promised highlights, but how much we get is as ever open to interpretation until we actually see.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

04 Jul 2018 20:43

Canyon have NOT left the Barnes sisters at home
http://twitter.com/WMNcycling/status/1014459467306557441
Tim Booth
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04 Jul 2018 22:10

Very interesting, so the earlier startlist with PFP is wrong. It makes the Canyon team seemingly more balanced all-round, but also means less help for Kasia in the high mountains. Alena will be leant on plenty, but she's had a good season so far. Hannah and Alexis Ryan will likely be contending the same kind of terrain too, although Alexis has seemed more durable than Hannah so far this season - but after last season's heroics we know Barnes can get over a fair few obstacles if she's in the form.
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Re:

05 Jul 2018 20:39

Libertine Seguros wrote:Very interesting, so the earlier startlist with PFP is wrong. It makes the Canyon team seemingly more balanced all-round, but also means less help for Kasia in the high mountains. Alena will be leant on plenty, but she's had a good season so far. Hannah and Alexis Ryan will likely be contending the same kind of terrain too, although Alexis has seemed more durable than Hannah so far this season - but after last season's heroics we know Barnes can get over a fair few obstacles if she's in the form.

complete startlist now available at
http://www.cyclingfever.com/editie.html?detp=view&_ap=startlijst&editie_idd=Mjg0MDE=
Tim Booth
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05 Jul 2018 22:58

In my mind there are 3 major questions for the GC

1. Is Van Vleuten's performance at the nationals just a bad day, or the beginning of a decline? At her age the decline's going to start at some point, but we can only know when retroactively. If it was just a bad day and indeed she's in last year's form the GC is basically wrapped and delivered. With actual mountains this year, she'll still win even if she gets caught behind a split on a flat day like she was last year.

2. Is this the year Niewiadoma takes the leap forward in ability we hope for every year? Indeed, will she ever take the leap? If not, her chances of an overall win hinge on the slim chance of picking the right tactical move - unlikely that one will happen on a one-climb-per-stage focused route like this one. The same goes for Longo Borghini to a lesser degree.

3. Guarnier looked wasted in California. That's not good for the show. Has she recovered?
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05 Jul 2018 23:21

With the Unipuerto stages and the lack of flat time trial mileage there are a few potential wildcards out there too, maybe not for the win (I suspect that's more for the likes of Annemiek, Ash, Kasia, Elisa, Megan) but certainly outsiders for the podium or a top 10. Ana Cristina Sanabria is riding for Servetto, she's barely raced this year but won the South American Games RR in Bolivia and was top 10 of the Col d'Izoard hillclimb last year; Erica Magnaldi was 4th in the Tour of California and 5th in the Tour of Yorkshire; Eider Merino was great on Jaizkibel in the Emakumeen Bira last year; Tayler Wiles managed an unexpected GC podium in California; Pauliena Rooijakkers won on Mont Lozère in the Tour de l'Ardêche last year.

The fact that none of the big teams appear to have a super-strength mountain train of top level contenders like, say, Boels 2016 or Rabo 2014, means this could be mano a mano from quite early on in the severe climbs which should hopefully be good for the spectacle.
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

06 Jul 2018 22:37

Wiggle-High5 future in doubt amid team chaos
Tim Booth
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Re: The Women's Road Racing Thread 2018

06 Jul 2018 23:08

Tim Booth wrote:Wiggle-High5 future in doubt amid team chaos


I think you meant to post this

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/wiggle-high5-future-in-doubt-amid-team-chaos-385035
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07 Jul 2018 00:01

The Giro is underway and there's about 50 minutes' summary to view from the initial TTT (skip to about 11 mins in for it to start).

Now, my opinions of the TTT are well known, but we can't really argue with the spectacle provided in terms of the battle for the stage win, since just a single, solitary second split Team Sunweb and Mitchelton-Scott, who went for polar opposite techniques; Sunweb kept their entire team together throughout to make the most of their numbers and shorter bursts, while Mitchelton-Scott came to the finishing line with the minimum number of riders, burning off their weaker names on the way. In the end, though, it was the European team that proved victorious, with Ellen van Dijk hauling them to the finishing line with her immense rouleuse power, and as a result claiming the first maglia rosa of the race. Obviously her whole team is at the same time, and it still remains unclear who will lead Sunweb on this parcours, but with the Australian squad it is a bit more obvious, with Annemiek van Vleuten the obvious leading candidate, with Emakumeen Bira winner Amanda Spratt the clear option B; Lucy Kennedy was dropped in the TTT and lost a couple of minutes already, as Roy and Elvin were the two to chaperone the main leaders, but she'll come into her own in the climbs.

The usual dominators of this format are Boels-Dolmans, but without their strongest engine in Anna van der Breggen, they weren't quite as indomitable as usual - though 3rd place and a deficit of just 12" for Guarnier to contend with is not bad at all, though they certainly aren't used to crossing the line with minimum numbers. The next team at the line was Cervélo-Bigla, 22" back from Sunweb, who shepherded Ash expertly and with Cille being strong against the clock as well as specialist Ann-Sophie Duyck they had a good core to build around. Canyon are also within 30", which could be important as obviously Niewiadoma is looking to make the mountains her playground here - her best performances of that kind have tended to be over climbs in the 5-8km kind of range so it'll be interesting to see if she can kick on on these longer climbs, with a small deficit to pull back. Canyon were very well organised too, only Alexis Ryan not coming in on the same time, and that's because she sat up at the line, not because she was dropped. WaowDeals are also in contention, at 35", but the bigger news for them is Rooijakkers being dropped as she's a strong climber, though she was in woeful form at the Women's Tour. Rounding out the biggest teams, Wiggle-High 5 came in at 39", led across the line by Longo Borghini, who already has a bit of an uphill battle and her run of poor luck or poor form on home roads continues - however uphill battles are the kind of racing she likes, so hopefully we see some.

There was a big gap of over 30" from the top 7 down to the rest, which was led in by Movistar at the head of 10 teams within around 30" of one another. Perhaps the most interesting here from a GC perspective is FDJ at +1'13", with Shara Gillow, and BePink at +1'19". Alé-Cipollini are disappointingly far down the order, but I suspect the GC is now a distant concern with Ensing a late scratch, and Marta dropped in the TTT.

1 Sunweb (van Dijk, Brand, Lippert, Labous, Soek, Kirchmann, Winder)
2 Mitchelton-Scott (van Vleuten, Spratt, Roy, Elvin) +1"
3 Boels (Canuel, Blaak, Guarnier, Pieters) +12"
4 Cervélo (Lepistö, Moolman-Pasio, Ludwig, Koppenburg, Duyck) +22"
5 Canyon-SRAM (Barnes, Barnes, Amialiusik, Niewiadoma, Cecchini, Cromwell) +26"
6 WaowDeals (Stultiens, Vos, Koster, Markus, Rowe) +35"
7 Wiggle-High 5 (Longo Borghini, Wild, Cordon-Ragot, Yonamine, Ritter) +39"
8 Movistar (Jasinska, García, Merino, Llamas, Neylan, Biannic) +1'11"
9 FDJ (Gillow, Kitchen, Slik, Fournier, Duval, Tenniglo) +1'13"
10 Trek-Drops (Wiles, Parkinson, Buurman, Holden, Hammes, Payton) +1'18"
11 Valcar-PBM (Confalonieri, Consonni, Muccioli, Paladin, Sanguineti, Persico) +1'19"
12 BePink (Guderzo, Pattaro, Ragusa, Magnaldi, Sperotto, Steigenga) +1'19"
13 Alé-Cipollini (Hosking, Knetemann, Santesteban, Paladin) +1'27"
14 Virtu (Guarischi, Schweizer, Hansen, Penton, Koster, Ålerud) +1'32"
15 Astana (Rodríguez, Moreno, Alzini, Beggin, Bertizzolo) +1'38"
16 Cylance (Ratto, Bronzini, Tagliaferro, Stephens) +1'39"
17 Eurotarget-Bianchi (Fidanza, Covrig, Silvestri, Gasparini) +1'42"
18 Servetto-Stradalli (Dobrynina, Potokina, Sanabria, Bessone, Parra, Casasola, Pillon) +2'00"
19 BTC City-Ljubljana (Pavlukhina, Batagelj, Pintar, Zigart) +2'07"
20 Concerina Zabri-Fanini (Franchi, Cipriani, de Iuliis, Salton, Fernandes Silva) +2'07"
21 Top Girls Fassa Bortolo (Leonardi, Quagliotto, Rossato, Pisciali, Perini) +2'12"
22 SC Michela Fanini (Chacón, Shekel, Vysotska, Király, Ceoloni, Marturano) +2'13"
23 Aromitalia-Vaiano (Laizane, Leleivyte, Nesti, de Ranieri, Bulleri, Marchesini, Balducci) +2'22"
24 Bizkaia-Durango (Christmas, González, Martínez, Arzuffi) +2'23"
User avatar Libertine Seguros
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07 Jul 2018 01:34

Reckon Mitchelton Scott losing Georgia Williams days before to a training crash and Lucy Kennedy first race in threr months was the difference between first and second time in the TTT. Anyway augurs well for an exciting TTT at the World's. AVV in decent shape should be a comfortable winner of the Giro.
Last edited by yaco on 07 Jul 2018 06:28, edited 1 time in total.
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07 Jul 2018 03:08

A note on Movistar's TTT. They team said they were really happy with the result esp considering they've never done a TTT before and haven't really even put any training into it.
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07 Jul 2018 09:39

Certainly I think Annemiek is the favourite, but ELB and Ash need to be considered as well, both are elite climbers, the problem is that I do think that the Mitchelton team offers stronger support than either of them will have. Ash will have to rely very heavily on Cille in the climbing stages, but the fact many of them are Unipuerto will be beneficial to her in that there's less time to be caught out by numbers as I readily imagine Spratt will be one of the better climbers in the race too. The biggest question will be on whether Niewiadoma has it in the longer climbs. We know she likes the medium mountain terrain and she made her name back in 2014 on La Crosetta and Madonna del Ghisallo, but while she loves steep climbs, she has also had a couple of times in the past where she's really been caught out by a longer one, such as the Mortirolo in 2016, so it will remain to be seen if she can get over that hurdle as obviously the Zoncolan will be really unforgiving.

I'm fairly confident that the winner will come from those four, although if Guarnier is back to her best she could also be a threat, seeing as you should never write off the marchers in orange. The interesting thing is that both Boels and Canyon are not climber-heavy in their lineups, so their strength in depth advantage over, say, Cervélo, is fairly limited. Both teams only really have one specialist mountain backup (Karol-Ann Canuel and Alena Amialiusik, respectively), so how they manage those climbs will be interesting. I think Annemiek has the advantage in the MTT.
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