Log in:  

Register

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: Irondan, Eshnar, Red Rick, Pricey_sky, Tonton, King Boonen, Valv.Piti

15 Apr 2018 09:47

Right, the Ardennes begin today, and we're guaranteed a brand new face on the podium of two of the three races, given that Lizzie Deignan is taking time out for starting a family, and with Liège-Bastogne-Liège having been a brand new race last year, and Amstel Gold being rebooted after fourteen years out, nobody who was on the podium in those earlier editions is racing today. With La Flèche Wallonne there's still the possibility of a podium made up of riders who've already been on the podium. It's difficult in some ways to shake the feeling that this trifecta of races is set up to be a repeat of last year's Kasia Niewiadoma vs. Boels-Dolmans duel, with Anna van der Breggen of course taking all three races last year, while Lizzie shadowed the remaining riders to nip ahead of Kasia for 2nd. Last year a few were able to stay with that lead group in Amstel Gold (remember, Annemiek van Vleuten was later credited with equal third at Amstel, so technically speaking I guess it wouldn't be a new podium face if the podium were to be made up of Anna, Kasia and Annemiek in any permutation), whereas in Flèche the three had a sizable advantage and in Liège Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio was with them for a while before dropping away.

The following active riders have podiumed Flèche however, to give an idea of the threats:
- Trixi Worrack (3rd, 2006)
- Marianne Vos (1st, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2nd 2012)
- Marta Bastianelli (2nd, 2008)
- Linda Villumsen (3rd, 2012)
- Elisa Longo Borghini (2nd, 2013, 3rd, 2014)
- Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (3rd, 2013)
- Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (1st, 2014)
- Anna van der Breggen (1st, 2015, 2016, 2017)
- Annemiek van Vleuten (2nd, 2015)
- Megan Guarnier (3rd, 2015, 2016)
- Katarzyna Niewiadoma (3rd, 2017)

Obviously some of those can be discounted - Worrack is a long way from the point in her career of threatening on the Mur de Huy, Villumsen is no longer specialising all-round as she was back then, and Bastianelli's podium came in the wake of her Stuttgart rainbow jersey and while she was being heavily pressured to diet down to be competitive in the climbs, which caused eating disorders and her suspension, since her return she has reinvented herself as a completely different type of rider.

Many of these also made up the top 10s last year which goes to show you the primary contenders:

Amstel:
1 Anna van der Breggen
2 Lizzie Deignan +55"
3= Katarzyna Niewiadoma +55"
3= Annemiek van Vleuten +55"
5 Elisa Longo Borghini +55"
6 Coryn Rivera +1'02"
7 Amy Pieters +1'51"
8 Pauline Ferrand-Prévot +1'51"
9 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio +1'51"
10 Ellen van Dijk +1'51"

Flèche:
1 Anna van der Breggen
2 Lizzie Deignan +16"
3 Katarzyna Niewiadoma +25"
4 Annemiek van Vleuten +43"
5 Shara Gillow +49"
6 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio +54"
7 Coryn Rivera +56"
8 Janneke Ensing +58"
9 Katrin Garfoot +1'00"
10 Flavia Oliveira +1'02"

Liège:
1 Anna van der Breggen
2 Lizzie Deignan +17"
3 Katarzyna Niewiadoma +19"
4 Ellen van Dijk +31"
5 Annemiek van Vleuten +31"
6 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio +31"
7 Shara Gillow +31"
8 Olga Zabelinskaya +31"
9 Elisa Longo Borghini +34"
10 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig +41"

With no Lizzie to act as her sidekick, then, Anna will probably have to rely more heavily on Megan Guarnier to fulfil that role. Meg was returning from injury so not quite at her best during last year's Ardennes but her previous record with two podiums on the Mur de Huy show that she's more than capable of playing that role - and had they been healthy last year I would probably have backed her to be more helpful to Anna than Lizzie, to be quite honest, but Lizzie was on her best climbing form we've ever seen last season. The Boels sextet for Amstel Gold features a backup squad of Pieters, Blaak, Canuel, van den Bos and Guarnier, so they've still got good depth. Pieters is less likely to be as much assistance in the run-in in the Belgian races but she made it to a high placing in Amstel Gold and is able to get over a lot of that type of climb, but the more sustained Ardennes may be too hard for her. However there's also Karol-Ann Canuel who's been quiet thus far this season but has been a great climbing help in the last two years and able to make most selections. She was top 10 at Binda but that's her only notable result this year. And in previous years on a similar finish to this in the women's Boels Rentals Ladies Tour Chantal Blaak has managed some very strong finishes as well so, while she like Pieters may find the climbs of Flèche less to her liking, she could still contend here.

On her best performance in those stages, however, she came in five seconds behind arguably the biggest threat to the Boels hegemony, Kasia Niewiadoma. As doesn't really bear repeating by this stage, Kasia is a combative climber and since she will lose in a sprint against most real contenders (especially now Abbott and Lichtenberg are both retired, leaving only really Longo Borghini that she can feel confident in a two-up against) she will look to attack as soon as she has the legs. Her backup team includes two former podium riders here - PFP and Worrack. PFP hasn't been able to truly recapture her pre-injuries form, but she was still top 10 of an Ardennes race last year and, reunited with her old Rabo roommate, seems rejuvenated somewhat this season in terms of her riding, though it's still not clear how strong she is or can be. Amialiusik was top 3 in the Boels Rentals Tour stage to the Cauberg a couple of years ago and though she'll probably be a decoy attack with PFP and Kasia behind, she's still too dangerous to allow to go for that reason - though she prefers the bigger climbs later in the week. Ryan and Cecchini complete the team, the latter certainly can't be counted out of making some intriguing moves, though she hasn't been at her best thus far in 2018.

Mitchelton-Scott are built around Annemiek as you would expect, but with Garfoot not at the top level presently and racing over in the Commonwealth Games, their other major challenger from last year is no longer present. In her place, however, Lucy Kennedy might be of value, she's been top 10 of Strade Bianche and Trofeo Binda and while the field may not have been the best, she won the Tour de l'Ardêche last year which shows she can obviously climb. As well as her, they also have Amanda Spratt whose class in this kind of race is well known.

Sunweb are nominally led by Rivera, who had two top 10s, one in Amstel and one in Flèche, last year. The CN article suggests van Dijk to be the bigger threat however, and based on 2018 that's hard to argue; Coryn hasn't shown the same strength so far this season as she began last year with, while van Dijk has been very good, though mainly in races that don't give a representative guide to the Ardennes. Leah Kirchmann is on good form, being on the podium in the Brabantse Pijl, but how effective that is as a guide for the later Ardennes races I don't know, it might be useful for the Cauberg though. Lucinda Brand can't stay this quiet for long though, and Ruth Winder has thus far been anonymous - after the team's last two north American imports, Kirchmann and Rivera, hit the ground running, I can't help but suspect it's a matter of time before she starts to accumulate the results though.

The small size of the Cervélo team means I can more or less rinse and repeat what I've said about them many times before - Ash will be the leader, she's a great climber and we all love her for it, Cille will be the main support rider and she's great too, if the racing is conservative they have Lotta Lepistö but I doubt she'll make it to the end here. Similarly Wiggle are fairly self-explanatory too - without the secondary genuine climbing threat for this kind of race like Johansson and Lichtenberg were in previous years, they're going to be all in on the Longo Borghini train. Brennauer can maybe survive Amstel if her Thüringen Rundfahrt performances are anything to go by but Flèche and Liège should be a step too far. Alé also have a wildcard with Janneke Ensing who went from strength to strength as she worked through last season, and the former speed skater is a great combative rider who won a Boels Rentals Tour stage in the Limburg area last season too.

Marianne Vos, that perennial threat, has submitted probably the strongest on-paper Waowdeals team for Amstel Gold, with decent climbing help from Pauliena Rooijakkers and Sabrina Stultiens. Quite a few talented but inconsistent riders on that team though, so it will depend how well protected those climbers can be on the flats, and how long those flat engines can withstand the hills to be of assistance. There's a good few notable threats in smaller teams too - I'm not sure this week will be best for Cylance, FDJ seem like the biggest outside threat thanks to Shara Gillow who managed some strong Ardennes showings last year, it's been a quiet year for the Aussie so far but she has a strong history in these types of race. Eugenia Bujak once won Plouay of course, so she can potentially survive Amstel if not the others, while Astana have Arlenis Sierra who had a great year last season, and Sofia Bertizzolo in the U23 jersey. Małgorzata Jasińska has had a good and visible early season for Movistar, while Aromitalia have Rasa Leleivyte, who always seems to step up in this kind of finish but not normally until later in the season. A real shame BePink aren't here as I would have liked to see Nosková.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

15 Apr 2018 11:46

Blaak, Ryan and Spratt have a minute and a half with 20km to go, little impetus in the chase as obviously the biggest teams all have a rider up there. Splintered remains of the break in between, Spratt was briefly distanced on the Cauberg but she's got back to Blaak and Ryan now. The first chase group is Brand, Cordon-Ragot and Riejanne Markus, with Lepistö and Bronzini unsurprisingly tailed off as they're the most obvious sprinters of that group. Brand seems to be doing the work to reunite the front trios, Boels are definitely putting their faith in Blaaki as they're stalling the group behind. Canyon seem relatively benign as well so they're putting a lot of faith in Ryan, who is a stronger sprinter than the other two in that group but almost certainly the weakest climber.

Not that it matters as Brand has now made it a front six so the dynamic changes. Brand is probably the strongest all-rounder but her form has been much weaker than Blaak's, Cordon-Ragot is the best rouleuse but not a dynamic climber or sprinter, and Markus is also a good sprinter but like Ryan will be at risk on the climbs. Spratt is a strong climber usually but was tailed off by Blaak and Ryan on the Cauberg here. Not a massive amount of cohesion though, and they've lost 20 seconds of their advantage quite quickly, so they'll need to reconvene and decide to work pretty soon or the impetus will be lost... oh, and then Bronzini and Lepistö might have to be considered too.

It really feels, though, like the van der Breggens, Niewiadomas, Moolman-Pasios and van Vleutens of this world are happy to settle for a quiet ride today and not burn too many matches with the more prestigious race to come mid-week and then Liège next weekend too. The gap is now holding at about 1'20" and a bit more cohesion has been found in the sextet, mainly with some of the less strong teams like Waowdeals and Wiggle happy to ensure a strong position here and go for it on the final climb of the Cauberg rather than take their chances from the péloton. You know, since we're all well aware that the Bemelerberg is a colossal crock of crap that had completely ruined the men's Amstel Gold since they started to bring in the 2012 Worlds course, until they switched the route around a bit.

Lepistö and Bronzini have a 16" deficit over the Bemelerberg. Cordon-Ragot is trying to stretch them out as they head back toward Valkenburg. Blaak is sitting in second wheel but not really going for it on her turns. For somebody who was dropped last time over the Cauberg Spratt is also taking quite a lot of the wind along with Audrey. Ryan, Markus and Brand are not contributing. Brand I feel to be dangerous, Ryan and Markus are durable sprinter types who you would not expect to contribute too much here as they need to conserve energy to survive the Cauberg, Brand is a stronger all-rounder. The gap to the bunch is now up to 1'45" so the break will take this, an interesting situation because no team has more than one rider up the road but every major team was happy with their chances from the representation, which is pretty rare. Blaak looks pretty relaxed in the rainbow jersey and she made the difference on the climb last time around, so suspect that Boels are going to reassert their position but they can't replicate last year's 1-2 at least. Lotta and Giorgia are still chasing hard but their chances of making the catch are next to nil, it's basically 2 and a half versus 2 with Cordon-Ragot/Spratt and partially Blaak vs. the two of them, but they'll need all their reserves on the final climb which they don't have after 20km of chasing. They're getting closer but probably at best will make contact in time to be dropped again on the climb when attacks start.

And they have literally just done that, a great descent from the two sprinters and they just start the Cauberg immediately behind the leading group of six! Markus now pulling, but Brand makes the first significant move as anticipated... Blaak marks it, Ryan and Spratt join the wheel. Lucinda is working hard but the rainbow jersey looks comfortable in pursuit. Spratt attacks, Markus is getting back on but now she and Ryan are finding it hard to follow the wheels. Brand again and the elastic snaps, the two sprinters are gone, and it's Brand, Blaak and Spratt at the head of the race! Spratt goes again, Blaak at the back, she's barely done any work at all as the other two have taken all the aggressive moves. Now Blaak rolls through as they reach the top of the climb where it shallows out, to keep up the impetus and prevent the fast finishers from chasing on. Final kilometre, but Markus and Ryan are only about 3 seconds behind... they could make it. Spratt takes up the lead to prevent that, but now Blaak won't roll through, how much can Spratt lead out? Ryan is fighting like an animal to make contact again.

Blaak opens up the sprint and comfortably takes it ahead of Brand, Spratt just holds on from the chasing duo. Cordon-Ragot takes 6th, Bronzini rolls in ahead of Lepistö. Looks like Eugenia Bujak won the sprint from the remains of the péloton ahead of Marianne Vos to round out the top 10. Definitely a BTC rider.

Now confirmed it was Bujak. Bertizzolo just outside the top 10 so she picks up another slew of points for the U23 competition.

1 Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) NED
2 Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) NED
3 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) AUS
4 Riejanne Markus (Waowdeals) NED
5 Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) USA
6 Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle-High5) FRA
7 Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) ITA
8 Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN
9 Eugenia Bujak (BTC City-Ljubljana) POL
10 Marianne Vos (Waowdeals) NED

You might have got some good odds before today on Waowdeals being the only team to put two riders in the top 10, and certainly I didn't expect the race to be quite as quiet as that, the heads of state seemed fairly soporific, suspect the fact Ryan went so well on the penultimate time on the Cauberg sealed the fate of the group as Canyon would probably have been the only team that would have been unsure about their women up front, Boels obviously have plenty of reason to trust Blaaki, Sunweb didn't necessarily have any better options than Brand, as Rivera's not been on form so if van Dijk radioed in that she wasn't feeling great, then this was perfect for them. Cervélo probably knew Lotta wouldn't win from there, but unless Ash felt she had great legs, they would probably not have won from behind, plus with Lepistö up the road, they'd have precious few engines to be able to expend because they'd need to preserve Cille as well. The big question mark would have been Canyon, since the rider they'd got in the move was not one of their climbing squad.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

15 Apr 2018 12:25

I just watched the last 25 kilometres of the women's race and it made me wonder about something: Why were so many teams satisfied with the situation in the end? Everybody knew that Blaak would win, but all the other teams who were represented in the front were doing nothing in the peloton, and the rest of the teams didn't think it was their responsibility either.

I heard an interview with Cecilie Uttrup afterwards, and she said that they didn't chase becayse Lepistö was up there. But it just seems incredibly tactically inept since she didn't have any chance whatsoever of podiuming. That was evident with 20 k's to go.

So why didn't anyone chase? In a men's race it wouldn't have happened that ways (but there are of course even more teams present which is also a factor here).

Edit: Okay, LS updated her post above after I wrote this, addressing just what I was wondering about.
User avatar tobydawq
Member
 
Posts: 1,042
Joined: 16 Nov 2013 18:45
Location: Denmark

15 Apr 2018 12:40

Also, for some of those teams - Waowdeals, Cervélo, Cylance - it is in their interest to allow the break to go because they'd expect a good strong placement in the top 10 to be as best as they could do from the péloton, they then don't have to work behind, and why trade a likely top 10 for a possible top 10? Wiggle is slightly tougher as realistically the chances of Cordon-Ragot winning from there were slim as she's not got a sprint and though she's a functional climber she wouldn't expect to contest a climb like the Cauberg on an even keel with the likes of Spratt, but having been shorn of their secondary options for hilly races that they have had in previous years, they are very heavily reliant on Elisa Longo Borghini, who may not have fancied her chances against a completely fresh van der Breggen, Niewiadoma and Moolman-Pasio given she's had a few weeks out and a tough start to the season. I will say I'm surprised how inactive the péloton was on the Cauberg, I would have thought that a few placements might have been fought out for the WWT points, but then I guess Boels, Canyon and Sunweb aren't too fussed by them, whereas Bujak really looked like she was turning herself out to get 9th place which I think is BTC's best WT result this year. At the same time, for the Individual rankings you'd have thought the likes of Anna VDB, Elisa and Kasia might have fought out that final climb - I guess given the race was being left to the break, keeping your cards close to your chest for the Mur de Huy might be more important, considering Flèche is the most important race of Ardennes week for the women.

Blaaki will skip Flèche but she will ride Liège, as per her post-race interview.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

15 Apr 2018 14:03

Great win by Blaaki. bossy
I was him
User avatar Zama_Olyas
Junior Member
 
Posts: 74
Joined: 12 Apr 2018 16:02
Location: formerly knows as Zam_olyas

Re:

15 Apr 2018 16:00

Libertine Seguros wrote:Also, for some of those teams - Waowdeals, Cervélo, Cylance - it is in their interest to allow the break to go because they'd expect a good strong placement in the top 10 to be as best as they could do from the péloton, they then don't have to work behind, and why trade a likely top 10 for a possible top 10? Wiggle is slightly tougher as realistically the chances of Cordon-Ragot winning from there were slim as she's not got a sprint and though she's a functional climber she wouldn't expect to contest a climb like the Cauberg on an even keel with the likes of Spratt, but having been shorn of their secondary options for hilly races that they have had in previous years, they are very heavily reliant on Elisa Longo Borghini, who may not have fancied her chances against a completely fresh van der Breggen, Niewiadoma and Moolman-Pasio given she's had a few weeks out and a tough start to the season. I will say I'm surprised how inactive the péloton was on the Cauberg, I would have thought that a few placements might have been fought out for the WWT points, but then I guess Boels, Canyon and Sunweb aren't too fussed by them, whereas Bujak really looked like she was turning herself out to get 9th place which I think is BTC's best WT result this year. At the same time, for the Individual rankings you'd have thought the likes of Anna VDB, Elisa and Kasia might have fought out that final climb - I guess given the race was being left to the break, keeping your cards close to your chest for the Mur de Huy might be more important, considering Flèche is the most important race of Ardennes week for the women.

Blaaki will skip Flèche but she will ride Liège, as per her post-race interview.


It didn't help her chances that she took it upon herself to solely lead the front group the final four kilometres before the final ascent of the Cauberg. Which there was absolutely no good reason to do, especially since the peloton wasn't chasing.

I don't want to sound condescending towards the women's racing and I really haven't watched much of it but it seemed that some of the decisions taken today were extremely odd. And there are taken stupid decisions in men's cycling too but I thought it was a little peculiar to see so many within 25 kms.
User avatar tobydawq
Member
 
Posts: 1,042
Joined: 16 Nov 2013 18:45
Location: Denmark

15 Apr 2018 23:16

@CordonRagot 5h
Tdy I gave it all to make sure I get a result. I know some people think I raced stupid but believe me, this 6th place feels like a win after so many years working hard and never be reward or caught 1km to go like in Bergen.Thanks to my teammates to give me this opportunity <3
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

16 Apr 2018 14:18

I had no problem with the way the Women's race unfolded - First we need to understand that women's races tend to be ridden at a stronger tempo, especially early in the race, hence breakaways given little rope - When do you see a breakaway get 8 or 10 or 12 minutes - As LS pointed out there was a group of circumstances that allowed the break to continue - Boels were confident that Blaak could win from that group, Sunweb were happy with Brand in the group, MS were happy for Spratt to get a podium, WAOW happy to get a rider in the top 10, while Cyclance and Cervelo Bigna had climber types in the next group who were unlikely to feature well in a sprint - I will also add that some women are STILL considerably stronger than others, especially when compared to the men's peleton, so controlling a race is a trickier exercise.
yaco
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3,854
Joined: 20 Jun 2015 17:57

Re: Re:

16 Apr 2018 16:42

tobydawq wrote:I don't want to sound condescending towards the women's racing and I really haven't watched much of it but it seemed that some of the decisions taken today were extremely odd. And there are taken stupid decisions in men's cycling too but I thought it was a little peculiar to see so many within 25 kms.


DSs commonly refer to how rewarding it is to see the riders improve quickly from tactical coaching in the women's peloton precisely because until turning pro most of them have had little such coaching. Some, in fact, have had none.

They usually compare it to men's racing where as a junior you're already soaked in the details of reading a race - not that you don't still have a ton to learn - so DSs have a smaller effect on pros.

In particular, the prowomenscycling podcast had an episode a couple years ago or so that featured an interview with a fomer Wiggle director comparing his experiences between the men and women's pelotons in terms of coaching.

As a spectator, I feel it makes the races more interesting and unpredictable.
User avatar GuyIncognito
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3,737
Joined: 27 Jun 2013 21:19

16 Apr 2018 18:10

There's also the issue of fairly significant concentration of talent into a few superteams, which affects the way a race like yesterday's is run - while Cervélo and Cylance may not be confident of the chances of Lepistö and Bronzini from the group there is up the road, they would also have had to toast a lot of decent riders to gamble on the Cauberg. With Cervélo that's not a bad option as long as Moolman-Pasio feels good, but if she doesn't, she mightn't do better than the 8th place Lotta eventually got, as the Cauberg is not a sustained enough climb for her to drop a lot of the riders who could contest a sprint with her, and also she would be toasting a lot of her teammates to bring riders back only to then likely be outnumbered by the likes of Boels at the end, who could do the old 1-2-3. Cille was the only teammate she had in that group and they may not have wanted to toast her when they could take a bottom end top 10 and keep the climbing duo fresh for later in the week - those climbs are more suitable for Ash anyway, and Cervélo only have 9 riders contracted, so they don't have the same freedom to plug in substitutes and rest the stars that the biggest teams have, therefore a chance to bank a result without working the team's leader for the hilly races is ideal - just as they might choose not to chase a break if Ash or Cille get into one in one of the flat crit type races, to save Lotta. Cylance would really be gambling, because they'd have been reliant on Ratto at the end, and she's very inconsistent.

Also, you have that while teams like Boels, Canyon and Sunweb are always going to be up there in contention, for some teams like Waowdeals and Cylance, these points are vital in holding them in a high position in the World Tour standings, key for invites in coming seasons and funding, so while they know full well they aren't likely to best Blaak or Spratt in a sprint up the Cauberg, they don't want to trade a definite top 10 for a risky strategy of burning a lot of domestiques to chase people back, knowing that their domestique corps doesn't have the strength in depth of Boels and Canyon and risking isolating their leaders at the end. That's also why Eugenia Bujak was turning herself inside out to get that 9th place from the sprint of the péloton, because BTC are an established team but they're at the lower end of the WT - not too dissimilar to seeing a WT team like Groupama-FDJ or Lotto being more keen when scrapping for points behind a breakaway in a WT classic than a team like Sky or Quick Step.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

17 Apr 2018 19:29

Flèche is tomorrow, the most prestigious but least well-broadcast of the Ardennes triple.

Image

Van der Breggen's run of triumphs in the Ardennes came to an end, but Boels-Dolmans' one didn't, and besides Anna's the triple-defending champion here on the Mur de Huy so she will be the one there to be shot at, after the big grimpeuses rather engaged in a cold war on Sunday at Amstel.

The super-steep nature of the finish renders a few of the riders who are happy enough to do Amstel less well-adapted to the strains of the Mur de Huy, so some of the less hill-adept riders who can get over the smaller côtes of Limburg skip the race. This includes a few of the key players from Sunday, with them having worked significantly harder at the weekend than the likely favourites for Flèche and in many cases not being the team's most likely option for this profile anyway. Chantal Blaak, for example, takes a planned rest and will be back on Sunday for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and likewise Amy Pieters, who is a super engine for flat to rolling races but for whom these climbs may be beyond her remit after a hectic and successful early season, skips the Arrow, in their places come Anna Plichta, who has been a good domestique in the national team and for WM3 in this type of race, and Skylar Schneider, who like van den Bos will likely be put to use to control the opening section of the race, before Anna, Meg and Karol-Ann Canuel are left to handle the business end of the race. Canyon keep all their climbers intact and Ryan gets another start, with Worrack being the one to rest and Lisa Klein, German national champion, stepping in in her place. Mitchelton-Scott have the problem of limited numbers on site; this means that there's no replacement for Lucy Kennedy, who crashed heavily in Amstel Gold and so is unable to start, so van der Breggen will have a more limited range of helpers and Spratt will have to go again after expending so much energy at the weekend; Jolien d'Hoore gets an unexpected run-out on the Mur de Huy too. Sunweb also are putting a few too many eggs in the Coryn Rivera basket, both Lucinda Brand and Leah Kirchmann are resting, with the very young Liane Lippert and Juliette Labous - 20 and 19 respectively - in their place. I find it hard to believe Ellen van Dijk is going to be plan A, as though she has some decent hilly results, the nature of the Mur de Huy is not ideal for her and she lacks explosivity in comparison to the more pure climbers. The other high profile withdrawals compared to Sunday are Marianne Vos, who has previously won this race several times of course, who backs down for Waowdeals to be replaced by Rotem Gafinovitz, and Giorgia Bronzini, who's probably achieved as much as she could have done this week with a top 10 in Amstel; Cylance will probably therefore be hoping one of Lauren Stephens, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok and Rossella Ratto can find some form for the rest of the week.

Elsewhere it's as you were - the race has broken up in the last couple of years to the elites on the first passage of the Mur and then the decisive moves have come on the Côte des Chevrères - last year Kasia Niewiadoma dropped everybody but the all important Boels duo, despite numerous attempts to shake them. Van der Breggen then took an advantage on the downhill with Lizzie shadowing Kasia, and then Anna got enough of a gap that she wasn't going to be caught, especially once Kasia had used up too much of her energy trying to get rid of the Boels duo earlier, and with Lizzie able to stay with her on the Mur it was academic since Lizzie would have got the jump on her even if she'd been able to bring van der Breggen back. And we all know that's easier said than done. No Lizzie this year but obviously Anna is the three time defending champion and therefore the obvious favourite; the other major contenders are - as you might expect - Niewiadoma, van Vleuten, Moolman-Pasio and Longo Borghini, the other elite climbing talents of the péloton, while Guarnier and Canuel give Boels strong backup options and other Plan B challengers will include Ferrand-Prévot (a former winner of course), Ludwig, Ensing, Rivera, Gillow, while it's interesting to spot veteran Brazilian grimpeuse Flavia Oliveira finding her way onto the startlist with Health Mate-CycleLive, and Tibco are on the startline too, having not been there in Limburg.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

17 Apr 2018 19:34

Do you know where - if anywhere - it might be possible to contact ASO to lobby for them to actually show F-W and L-B-L?
Made a comment on a FB post (the le Tour de France page) which - after the obligatory "Valverde gonna win" for the men's race - actually mentioned how we shouldn't forget the ladies' race... because apparently everybody can just go to Belgium...
Aka The Ginger One.
User avatar RedheadDane
Veteran
 
Posts: 8,946
Joined: 05 May 2010 13:47
Location: Viking Land! (Aros)

Re:

17 Apr 2018 20:14

RedheadDane wrote:Do you know where - if anywhere - it might be possible to contact ASO to lobby for them to actually show F-W and L-B-L?
Made a comment on a FB post (the le Tour de France page) which - after the obligatory "Valverde gonna win" for the men's race - actually mentioned how we shouldn't forget the ladies' race... because apparently everybody can just go to Belgium...

At least the UCI's producing summary videos means the cameras actually get switched on, they just only produce highlight videos rather than doing any live broadcasting, heaven forfend we miss any of the action when the men are 120km from the line - after all we know how often the men's Flèche Wallonne descends into chaos with important moves early on. Aside from spamming their social media outposts, and fans have done that for some time, I'm just not sure what would have an impact on ASO. They're too busy patting themselves on the back for giving the women La Course, even though they just about killed off an eight-day stage race in France to make room for it, then tried to kill off a long-established seven-day stage race in another country entirely for their experimental version last year.
Last edited by Libertine Seguros on 17 Apr 2018 20:16, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

17 Apr 2018 20:15

Meanwhile, Cookson's starting a WWT team
User avatar GuyIncognito
Senior Member
 
Posts: 3,737
Joined: 27 Jun 2013 21:19

17 Apr 2018 20:23

This sounds like a vomit-inducing circle of corporate buzzwords in the making... after the job he did at the UCI after talking a good game, I'm more than a little apprehensive of what this is going to entail. Especially with the whole Sky thing being up in the air, I'm wary of people being left in the lurch if Cookson's close association with that team and brand during his time as president becomes an obstacle and sponsors get cold feet like in Germany in the T-Mobile and then subsequently Gerolsteiner fallout, the Nürnberger/Skyter collapse or the third iteration of Liberty Seguros.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

Re: Re:

17 Apr 2018 23:19

Libertine Seguros wrote:
RedheadDane wrote:Do you know where - if anywhere - it might be possible to contact ASO to lobby for them to actually show F-W and L-B-L?
Made a comment on a FB post (the le Tour de France page) which - after the obligatory "Valverde gonna win" for the men's race - actually mentioned how we shouldn't forget the ladies' race... because apparently everybody can just go to Belgium...

At least the UCI's producing summary videos means the cameras actually get switched on, they just only produce highlight videos rather than doing any live broadcasting, heaven forfend we miss any of the action when the men are 120km from the line - after all we know how often the men's Flèche Wallonne descends into chaos with important moves early on. Aside from spamming their social media outposts, and fans have done that for some time, I'm just not sure what would have an impact on ASO. They're too busy patting themselves on the back for giving the women La Course, even though they just about killed off an eight-day stage race in France to make room for it, then tried to kill off a long-established seven-day stage race in another country entirely for their experimental version last year.

Seeing as we've discussed over in the Danish talents thread the many ways in which Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is awesome, she's also added 'calling out ASO on their BS' to the list, raising that it's a real shame that two races of high prestige and, with the link to the men's races, potential crossover audience, are not broadcast live - and are also the first WWT races of the year not to have any live coverage.

As fans have pointed out, this is clearly a matter of will rather than resources, because freaking ASO organize the races. And also, given how much we bewail the taming of racing in the Ardennes classics that make the men's races into uphill sprints, the opportunity to watch the women who have a) yet to get to grips with the Liège course so the problem of everybody knowing the decisive moments and how to ride them has yet to develop, and b) have provided racing well before the final climb in recent years in Flèche, would be a pleasant tonic as, especially in FW, it's not like we're likely to miss anything in the men's race even if they just showed the final 10km. Trofeo Binda, which is not organized by a larger organization like RCS or Flanders Classics, had an hour and a half of live footage. But ASO can't manage it (they could manage La Course when the women got to parade up and down the Champs, though).

Useful audience figures from AGR too - on Sporza they had over 3/4 the audience that the men's race had, and on Dutch Eurosport there were actually more viewers for the women's race than the men's, though the audience share is much, much smaller and the men's race had a more mainstream channel covering it too so that figure can't really be taken as representative as it's quite likely many who watched the women's race on Eurosport because it was the only available coverage would then have chosen another channel for the men's, plus many will have watched the men's race on NOS or whoever was covering it and not known there was coverage of the women on Eurosport so whether or not they would have had the interest in watching it is impossible to gauge; Sporza with over 500k viewers on the other hand can be considered not an unrealistic representation.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

Re: Re:

17 Apr 2018 23:32

Libertine Seguros wrote:
Libertine Seguros wrote:
RedheadDane wrote:Do you know where - if anywhere - it might be possible to contact ASO to lobby for them to actually show F-W and L-B-L?
Made a comment on a FB post (the le Tour de France page) which - after the obligatory "Valverde gonna win" for the men's race - actually mentioned how we shouldn't forget the ladies' race... because apparently everybody can just go to Belgium...

At least the UCI's producing summary videos means the cameras actually get switched on, they just only produce highlight videos rather than doing any live broadcasting, heaven forfend we miss any of the action when the men are 120km from the line - after all we know how often the men's Flèche Wallonne descends into chaos with important moves early on. Aside from spamming their social media outposts, and fans have done that for some time, I'm just not sure what would have an impact on ASO. They're too busy patting themselves on the back for giving the women La Course, even though they just about killed off an eight-day stage race in France to make room for it, then tried to kill off a long-established seven-day stage race in another country entirely for their experimental version last year.

Seeing as we've discussed over in the Danish talents thread the many ways in which Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is awesome, she's also added 'calling out ASO on their BS' to the list, raising that it's a real shame that two races of high prestige and, with the link to the men's races, potential crossover audience, are not broadcast live - and are also the first WWT races of the year not to have any live coverage.

As fans have pointed out, this is clearly a matter of will rather than resources, because freaking ASO organize the races. And also, given how much we bewail the taming of racing in the Ardennes classics that make the men's races into uphill sprints, the opportunity to watch the women who have a) yet to get to grips with the Liège course so the problem of everybody knowing the decisive moments and how to ride them has yet to develop, and b) have provided racing well before the final climb in recent years in Flèche, would be a pleasant tonic as, especially in FW, it's not like we're likely to miss anything in the men's race even if they just showed the final 10km. Trofeo Binda, which is not organized by a larger organization like RCS or Flanders Classics, had an hour and a half of live footage. But ASO can't manage it (they could manage La Course when the women got to parade up and down the Champs, though).

Useful audience figures from AGR too - on Sporza they had over 3/4 the audience that the men's race had, and on Dutch Eurosport there were actually more viewers for the women's race than the men's, though the audience share is much, much smaller and the men's race had a more mainstream channel covering it too so that figure can't really be taken as representative as it's quite likely many who watched the women's race on Eurosport because it was the only available coverage would then have chosen another channel for the men's, plus many will have watched the men's race on NOS or whoever was covering it and not known there was coverage of the women on Eurosport so whether or not they would have had the interest in watching it is impossible to gauge; Sporza with over 500k viewers on the other hand can be considered not an unrealistic representation.


The 3/4 viewership figure on Sporza is hugely encouraging for anyone interested in the women’s side of the sport.
Zinoviev Letter
Veteran
 
Posts: 5,652
Joined: 18 Aug 2010 13:18

18 Apr 2018 12:06

So, the Queen of Huy takes it again.

And the coverage for the men's race hadn't even started before the women finished. They could easily have shown it...
Aka The Ginger One.
User avatar RedheadDane
Veteran
 
Posts: 8,946
Joined: 05 May 2010 13:47
Location: Viking Land! (Aros)

18 Apr 2018 16:41

The king may be dead, but long live the queen!

Seriously, yet again it's a joke that ASO can't give us broadcast of this, after all we have the video of the final kilometre up the Mur, but it isn't given any commentary or summary so how is anybody meant to really understand what's going on? I mean, we all know how the Mur de Huy works, but if you didn't know instinctively who is who then how would you understand which moves are important, which things are not? How would you recognize that Pauline flicking her head around when she's caught is to try to find her teammate who realistically ought to be there with the best but was placed badly before the climb and didn't look to have the legs regardless? How would you know how impressive some of the less well known performances were or why it was important that the likes of Cecchini and Rivera had missed the group?

Anna has more or less cemented her position as the queen of Huy in winning the race this time not by being the best across splintered groups in final climbs like in 2016 or tactically isolating the number one threat like in 2017 - this time pretty much everybody you would want to contest the final climb head to head was in that group (save for those like PFP and Guarnier who were slightly further up the road), and so it was a classic shoot-out on the Mur, and Anna was still the best. I'm happy to see good form for Ash Moolman-Pasio, as she has had a difficult few months and she's a great climber, proving it here. And also it paid off for Cervélo that Ludwig did all that work for her as they only had two riders in the group, they put all their eggs in the one basket and it came off, considering Ash was leading the péloton almost as soon as the climb began. More worrying is the disappointing form for Canyon. In fairness to Pauline, she did a lot of work and fuelled many breaks, including the one that separated the elites from the also-rans on the first time up the Mur, but it was clear when she was caught on the Mur she would have been hoping for at least Kasia, if not both her and Alena, to be well-placed, but both seemed off their game and drifted backward in the group. As they all finished together it's hard to tell if they sat up because they were at least decently placed until Moolman-Pasio got around the Boels duo to hit for home, but they were never really close enough to the front to be a factor, which is a shame because in the right form for the Ardennes, you would have expected at least one, probably two of them to make the top 10.

Then again, if they've been working on longer climbs with this year's Giro in mind, perhaps explosivity is down, and it was still rather nice to see Pauline looking back to her combative best.

There are some less-heralded rides of the day though. I would like to give credit to BTC's Anastasiia Iakovenko, the Russian champion is 23 and has never finished Flèche before, but made it to the top 10 today. She was 19th in the Giro dell'Emilia last year so this is her kind of thing I guess, but this is her first season with a pro team. In front of her Sofia Bertizzolo is really doing that U23 jersey proud, it's her first top 10 of the season but apart from de Ronde, where she was 25th, she's been top 20 in every WWT race she's contested, consistently enabling her to build up a lead in that classification before the stage races get underway. Sabrina Stultiens showed glimpses of her old climbing capabilities and, perhaps most impressively, late starter Mavi García got herself lost in a hopeless chasse-patate for several kilometres, never caught the breakaway, was absorbed by the bunch in the run-in to the Mur de Huy and still managed to squeeze into the top 10 - the Movistar team is more than just Jasinska, though you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise sometimes. Although both García and Jasinska are 34, so that's not ideal. Young Liane Lippert in 15th for Sunweb, being their best rider of the day, is an impressive showing as well, considering they'll have had to rely on her heavily with Rivera not present in the closing stages, and she comfortably outperformed Ruth Winder and Ellen van Dijk from her team in the group too.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

19 Apr 2018 17:49

Here's a somewhat overlooked story of the week - Richie Steege, the long-standing mechanic at Boels-Dolmans, and for many years one of the key sources of live information from within races, along with the likes of Karl Lima, Manel Lacambra and Anton Vos, suffered a heart attack at the hotel on Monday. The Sky team were staying in close proximity and one of their medical staff was on hand to aid him, before he was placed in an induced coma. His being awoken in time for Anna's victory in Flèche is perhaps a little sentimental as they don't go into his present state, but obviously it's a good story, Richie has been a key face in making women's cycling available to the fans, and obviously when contrasted to the unfortunate news about Andy Rihs we can hope for a full recovery.
User avatar Libertine Seguros
Veteran
 
Posts: 19,288
Joined: 20 Feb 2010 11:54
Location: Land of Saíz

PreviousNext

Return to Professional road racing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alexandre B., alexix7, davebqvst, DNP-Old, fantomas, Koronin, muhammadhanis, Poursuivant, staubsauger, Stelvio, Vince, Vino attacks everyone and 74 guests

Back to top