Lesser Known Road Racing for Women Thread

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Contracts in women's cycling are very linked to Olympic cycles, there may be quite a number of changes for next season. UAE potentially spending big will certainly rock a few teams.
SDWorx have only a few riders under contract for next season, Wiebes being the only big star.
My feeling is Kopecky is the more likely to leave, perhaps to AG.

Does AG have the budget? If Kopecky goes for market rates you will need half a million or more.
 
Does AG have the budget? If Kopecky goes for market rates you will need half a million or more.
This loops back to my point about crazy wages being out of whack with the development of the sport. Currently there are very few teams capable of paying top money and there are only 15 WWT teams. It is a fine balancing act with the way the sponsorship works, and we even see this on the mens side. I know there is a big push for the Women to get paid more, but is it worth it if the sport eats itself from the inside out. The sport needs to be at a level that it attracts enough big sponsors to cover the costs of big wages, otherwise teams will simply dissappear and the sport will not continue to grow. Having 4-5 teams paying top dollar and the rest peanuts is not a good situation.

I have seen the Vollering €million contract described as a LeMond moment for Womens cycling, but people forget the mens sport was far ahead in its development back then, than were the Women's side currently sits, more teams, a more established calendar, more interest, more sponsorship etc, etc. I am sure some will see my views as misogynistic, but really I just believe if the Womens side is to continue to flourish, everything needs to be in step in all aspects.

Personally, I would like to see a reduction in the size of men's WTs teams back down to 18-20 riders with a requirement to also run a Womens WT team. This would necessitate a change in the requirements to race in all WT races on the mens side, but personally I don't see that as a bad thing. It also might help spread out the talent more evenly. I much preferred the 80s/90s when you would have smaller Italian/Spanish teams showing up at the Giro/Vuelta with a big name capable of doing something over modern WT teams sending their B squads and being anonymous.

I want to see the Womens side continue to develop, I just don't know if paying huge money to the top names is the way of doing that.
 
Contracts in women's cycling are very linked to Olympic cycles, there may be quite a number of changes for next season. UAE potentially spending big will certainly rock a few teams.
SDWorx have only a few riders under contract for next season, Wiebes being the only big star.
My feeling is Kopecky is the more likely to leave, perhaps to AG.

AG would be a step down for her imo, if UAE don't get Demi, they're as likely to go moneybucks for Lotte too.

But you'd think she'd be looking at a space with Trek, to replace the likely retiring Lizzie D.
 
This loops back to my point about crazy wages being out of whack with the development of the sport. Currently there are very few teams capable of paying top money and there are only 15 WWT teams. It is a fine balancing act with the way the sponsorship works, and we even see this on the mens side. I know there is a big push for the Women to get paid more, but is it worth it if the sport eats itself from the inside out. The sport needs to be at a level that it attracts enough big sponsors to cover the costs of big wages, otherwise teams will simply dissappear and the sport will not continue to grow. Having 4-5 teams paying top dollar and the rest peanuts is not a good situation.

I have seen the Vollering €million contract described as a LeMond moment for Womens cycling, but people forget the mens sport was far ahead in its development back then, than were the Women's side currently sits, more teams, a more established calendar, more interest, more sponsorship etc, etc. I am sure some will see my views as misogynistic, but really I just believe if the Womens side is to continue to flourish, everything needs to be in step in all aspects.

Personally, I would like to see a reduction in the size of men's WTs teams back down to 18-20 riders with a requirement to also run a Womens WT team. This would necessitate a change in the requirements to race in all WT races on the mens side, but personally I don't see that as a bad thing. It also might help spread out the talent more evenly. I much preferred the 80s/90s when you would have smaller Italian/Spanish teams showing up at the Giro/Vuelta with a big name capable of doing something over modern WT teams sending their B squads and being anonymous.

I want to see the Womens side continue to develop, I just don't know if paying huge money to the top names is the way of doing that.

I don't think teams should be forced to have women's or men's teams if they don't want to. However as we've seen over the past few seasons, many teams/owners/sponsors have ended up being involved in women's cycling anyway making such rules pretty much redundant (atm).

I don't think you can attract bigger sponsorships without the stars being the ones to lead the way. As long as you make sure their teammates are being paid a decent amount as well, I can't see how much more can be done, cause I doubt we'll ever see salary caps.

The most immediate issue is that there are too many riders below the WWT level that don't have great conditions (that goes for men's teams below ProTeam level, too).

However it's not easy to fix this. In Spain they've introduced new and stricter rules (we also know that many Spanish races now have WE versions, because they can't receive public funding otherwise), but these rules have so far just meant that most of the teams have been forced to either fold, step down to club level or register in a different country.

Of course you can argue that this isn't necessarily a problem, because there were too many teams to begin with, and that it has helped creating one stronger team in Laboral Kutxa. But the teams that are still around will continue to ride many big races while their riders aren't much better off than before.

We also know that smaller teams sometimes take advantage of the riders, because they are desperate to ride races in order to attract bigger teams.
 
On the topic of SD Worx, I wasn't sure whether or not Sina Frei would still have some kind of connection to the team going forward, but not only is she currently participating in their training camp in Spain, she's also brought Laura Stigger along with her. I don't know if it means anything, but it is intriguing. Stigger is a former junior world champion on the road from Innsbruck and also finished 4th in the U23 EC RR in Trentino in 2021, but she's of course best known from the MTB scene.

However when it comes to Austrian MTB riders, I'm much more interested in seeing Mona Mitterwallner getting a big road career going. Kiesenhofer beat her in a qualification race for a spot in the Olympic RR in Tokyo, and we all know what that ultimately led to.

Also something which is old news, but I hadn't heard about before now, is that Geerike Schreurs, who in recent years have been a soigneur at Trek, probably most notably she's been present for their wins at Paris-Roubaix Femmes, is now apparently a SDW supported gravel rider. She did ride for the team all the way back in 2011 and was also teammates with Van der Breggen during her road career.
 
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The Setmana Ciclista Valenciana starts tomorrow, and it has the best start list we've seen for a women's race so far this season. And with SDW not fielding their 3 biggest stars, the result are definitely not given beforehand.

Route

Stage 1


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The race's traditional Gandia stage has provided different kinds of action in the past. It's seen Van Vleuten crush the peloton, Balsamo winning from a reduced group, and last year Elise Uijen took her first ever win, while Justine Ghekiere just managed to steal the overall victory away from her teammate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.

This time I think it will most likely end in a sprint where the likes of Balsamo, Gasparrini and Rüegg, if she still has her Mallorca shape, will be among the favourites. Vos is finally back racing, but I don't know what to expect from her.

Stage 2

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The second stage is interesting. They've also used this route before, but I'm not sure they've ever ridden it in this direction. Instead of having the Altos Ahín, Eslida and Marinet in the first 50 km of the stage, they're now positioned inside the last 40 km.

The Eslida (approx. 5km, 6.2%) is the hardest one and should provide an opportunity to distance the best sprinters. There's still 20 km left from the top it, but they are mostly downhill, so it might be difficult to close a gap there. However since the third stage is the queen stage, some riders could choose to hold back a bit.

Stage 3

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After 5 years the Alto Xorret de Catí is back in the race. The climb that really showcased just how great of a climber Clara Koppenburg can be on her day. However the stage is longer and beefier than it was back then (it has the same final 66-ish km as in last year's Vuelta M), and this time Koppenburg might not even be the best finisher from her own team.

I don't think we're going to see multiple riders arrive together at the finish. The race could easily completely break apart on the earlier climbs, so that there won't even be a front group arriving together at the bottom of Xorret de Catí.

Stage 4

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The L'Oronet has not yet proved to be difficult enough to create sizeable gaps, so this seems like the only certain bunch sprint in the race, but if the GC is still fairly close then parhaps some interesting stuff can still occur.


TV: As in previous years the race will be broadcast live on YouTube:

Start list: https://firstcycling.com/race.php?r=9189&y=2024&k=8

I think it's pretty odd that AGI-S are not defending the title. It looks like their U23 team isn't registered as a UCI team this year and it weirdly doesn't figure on the UCI's list of official devo teams either, so if that is the case, they can't exchange riders between the teams, like Fenix, Canyon and Liv-Jayco have all done for this race, but it also means that they could potentially field both teams in some races.
 
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On the topic of SD Worx, I wasn't sure whether or not Sina Frei would still have some kind of connection to the team going forward, but not only is she currently participating in their training camp in Spain, she's also brought Laura Stigger along with her. I don't know if it means anything, but it is intriguing. Stigger is a former junior world champion on the road from Innsbruck and also finished 4th in the U23 EC RR in Trentino in 2021, but she's of course best known from the MTB scene.
I think the connection is that both Stigger and Frei, the same as SD Worx, are sponsored by Specialized.

But indeed its interesting that both are participating in the training camp.
 
I think the connection is that both Stigger and Frei, the same as SD Worx, are sponsored by Specialized.

But indeed its interesting that both are participating in the training camp.

I know that's the main reason, but that connection has already led to Frei riding races for the team.

This week they've also had Skylar Schneider riding with them, who of course used to be a member of the team before saying goodbye to a career in Europe to mostly focus on domestic crit racing and starting a bakery/café with her sister. She did ride on Specialized as well, but now that the Williams Brothers have split their team in two, she's on Canyon bikes this season.
 
The first break today saw Imogen Cotter go up the road. She's slowly getting better after she was struck by car two years ago. Hopefully there's still better things to come. Margot Vanpachtenbeke, who got a breakthrough in Brabantse Pijl last year before suffering a nasty crash in the Baloise Ladies Tour, joined Cotter, but they weren't in front for long.

UAE lost Włodarczyk in a crash yesterday. Gasparrini was involved in it, too, and hasn't started today, while Trek has lost Chapman due to a different crash.

No attacks have stuck so far, but some riders have been dropped. There's 3 km to the top of Alto Eslida, and DSM are setting the pace.