Watching the Vargarda TTT and I have a few takeaways from the race not in any particular order.
1. It's not that much of a problem as all the teams are quite spread out and the road was generally quite wide, but not having any separation between riders on an out an back course is an interesting thing to see.
2. The array of lead motorcycles was interesting. I'm not well up on my motorbikes, but having a Harley Davidson style bike in front of Canyon Sram was my personal favourite. Imagine doing a motorpacing session behind that.
3. On the subject of Canyon Sram, it was an impressive ride by Amialusik to do the whole thing on the road bike while the rest were on TT bikes.
4a. TTTs definitely show who focuses more on the discipline and who has a bigger budget. I would assume looking at the mismatching equipment that Roland Cogeas had the smallest budget out of all WWT teams and maybe out of all of them in this race.
4b. The look of a well drilled TTT team is great
5a. I like TTTs. Or at least I like TTTs that have no impact on the GC of a stage race.
5b. I want more TTTs and ITTs that are not part of a stage race, like the Vargada TTT, Chrono des Nations and Duo Normand.
6. I like the sound of multiple disc wheels going "whomp whomp whomp" in unison!
Good spot, it's a .2 race but it's still a pro event.
Vuelta a Colombia starts this week. I note with some dismay that after last year they've decided not to put any major mountains in it, I assume that's so that Lilibeth Chacón doesn't completely obliterate the field like she did last year again, winning both MTFs pretty decisively and without really breaking a sweat on the Boquerón de Chipaqué (northwest side, so the easier side admittedly) either. I know she had a go at some Euro races back a decade ago with Bizkaia-Durango and did the Giro for SC Michela Fanini in 2018, but the Spanish women's scene was in far worse shape then than now and the Fanini team was in the process of collapsing at that point, so I don't think those performances can really be considered representative, and if the calendar is going to throw more mountainous races at the péloton, there are worse wildcard pickups to try, she's still only 30 and clearly and comfortably the best climber racing in Latin America.
NVM - Lilibeth isn't even starting this time around after breaking her collarbone when in the lead group at the Bolivarian Games Road Race when a dog ran onto the course and, being on the opposite side of the road as the group came through, was unsighted until too late.
And I realised why nobody's tried to take a flyer on her despite her results over a period of years in South America when people like Aranza Villalón, Liliana Moreno and Miryan Núñez have made it to Europe despite not being all that young (to say nothing of riders coming over when in their youth like Paula Patiño and Catalina Soto) - that positive test in 2014 probably makes it not worth the risk. Even if teams are happy to believe that it was naïveté or something, at age 22 and having not been renewed after her first trip to Europe, it nevertheless means that the only kind of teams likely to take the risk are the kind of team that can't offer the kind of salary and support that make it worth relocating across half the globe.
We'll put the Vuelta a Colombia Femeninas discussion in here I guess, since teacher busted us for talking in class over in the general Lesser Known Races thread.
Reduced sprint in Leyva today, in a 'flat stage' that was actually pretty much rolling, started at 2500m, climbed over 3000m and eventually descended down to 2100m for the finish, so plenty of altitude to suffer with, but not too much terrain challenge with gradients mostly being pretty soft. The short climb near the finish served to thin out the group but didn't break anything up too much. Diana Peñuela won stage 1 and she backed it up by winning stage 2 as well, beating Lina Hernández and Carolina Vargas, the latter of which is really starting to put together the kind of results that say she should be brought to Europe soon considering she's only 19. 20 riders made the front group without any time loss, including most of the key climbers that survived yesterday's crash-fest like Ana Cristina Sanabria and Anet Barrera. Sérika Guluma and Shoko Kashiki lost more time today after their incidents yesterday, while Liliana Moreno, one of the pre-race favourites, is out of the race already.
Marianne Vos is not the only one to triple up in a women's six stage race today, as Diana Peñuela was triumphant once more, with a slightly uphill finish enabling her to open up a small gap to the line and take 2" over the field. Some splits today were key however as only six riders came in at that 2" figure led by Andrea Alzate of Colnago-CM and Lina Hernández who is in 2nd on GC. Vargas lost six seconds to them at the line, coming in at +8", Sanabria and Barrera losing an extre second on top of that. Sérika Guluma lost another minute and Estefanía Herrera lost over five which suggests something going wrong as she's a lot better than that.
Peñuela needs one more stage to match Chacón's record from last season.
Peñuela and DNA Pro Cycling continue to dominate, as the micro-stage of just 21km, up and over a climb from San Gil to Barichará, hometown of Hernán Buenahora, saw them lay the smack down, with Peñuela and Anet Barrera just riding away from the field completely, with Lina Hernández the only one to make it inside a minute. Peñuela took her fourth consecutive stage win out of four to show Marianne Vos over in Norway how it's done, and to match the stage win record set by Lilibeth Chacón last year (although it should be said, Chacón won an ITT and two MTFs, whereas Peñuela's have all been over very similar finishes until today) while Barrera was the best of the finishers from last year to take the start in this year's race. Ana Fagua was best of the rest, and Shoko Kashiki who climbed so well here last year also showed some form to say that without that crash on stage 1 she could have been a contender.
It's worth noting that Barrera is 23, and has been top 25 on Mount Baldy against the WWT pros three years ago, and top 5 in the Tour of the Gila earlier this year, the young Mexican does look to have some promise, similar to why Villalón and Núñez were brought across to Europe for this season, while Peñuela, at 35, obviously isn't as likely to see teams willing to bring her across the Atlantic. Prospect-watch may also suggest Ana Vivar might be worth watching - the Ecuadorian is only 18 and finished 5th ahead of a host of seasoned pros here, although obviously the short distance makes it a bit of a crapshoot as to how much can be drawn from this as an isolated result.
Estefanía Herrera broke Peñuela's dominance with a solo escape to win the queen stage in Colombia, though Peñuela defended her leader's jersey by coming in amongst the group of 9 that came in together a minute and a half behind Herrera. CTA did a 1-2 as well as Lina Hernández won the sprint for 2nd. Vivar lost four minutes but all the favourites were as you expect so Peñuela's GC win should be assured.
It's good to see Boilard back performing so well. Her results back at Twenty20 and in the Innsbruck worlds showed great promise but she was derailed by all-sorts of things including issues with the Iliac artery and then also Sepsis.
FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope continued their winning streak with the almost always smiling Marie Le Net conquering La Picto-Charentaise to take her first senior win. Sky Schneider finished second in her first European race in over two years.
DNA Pro Cycling let the break take the sixth and final stage of the Vuelta a Colombia, with Andrea Alzate of Colnago-CM outsprinting Leidy Muñoz of Team Illuminate in a two-up. Estefanía Herrera escaped later on to take 30 seconds or so back, but the remainder of the favourites came in together, well marshalled, to guarantee the overall win for Peñuela, who had stamped her authority all over this one. The exception was Jennifer Ducuara, who missed the split and lost several minutes to drop out of the top 10. Herrera was unable to succeed in her bid to break into the top 10, that 5 minute deficit from the crash on stage 3 being the difference maker.
Final GC (riders Colombian unless otherwise stated):
1 Diana Peñuela (DNA Pro Cycling) 15'02'05
2 Lina Marcela Hernández (Colombia Tierra de Atletas-GW-Shimano) +1'01
3 Anet Barrera (DNA Pro Cycling) MEX +1'24
4 Ana Cristina Sanabria (Colombia Tierra de Atletas-GW-Shimano) +2'46
5 Carolina Vargas (Colnago-CM) +2'51
6 Genesis Cortés (Team Saavedra-Gelvez-Indenorte) +3'14
7 Andrea Alzate (Colnago-CM) +4'09
8 Esther Jessica Galarza (Avinal-Carmen de Viboral) ECU +4'10
9 Luisa Daniela Hernández (Merquimia Proyecta) +5'40
10 Ana Vivar (Movistar-Best PC) ECU +5'52
Eleonora Gasparrini took her first pro win in the MerXem Classic (the women's version of Schaal Sels), ahead of Megan Jastrab and Silvia Persico. A bit crazy to see only one Belgian, but four American riders in the top 10.
The Giro della Toscana starts tomorrow. It's been three-day race in the last eyars, but it has four stages this year. There are many of the best non-WWT riders on the start list. I don't think there's any live coverage though.
The more important news is there will be an under 23 edition of L'Avenir - I suspect this may change the recruiting patterns of some women's teams - This will be a great advertisement to support the women's climbing ranks.
Persico is the ultimate placement rider, no? She's won two .2 races this year, but if we had a women's version of the 'top 10s without a win' competition sticking to pro race categories like we do in that thread... she has 27 so far this season, spread between pure bunch sprints like Gent-Wevelgem and RideLondon, puncheur finishes like Ojo Guareña in Burgos, dirt roads and classics like Strade Bianche and Brabantse Pijl, hilly races like Trofeo Binda, small group races like Bergamo in the Giro and Elsy Jacobs, and high mountains like Lagunas de Neila in Burgos, Super-Planche in the Tour and Passo Maniva in the Giro. She even has one in a prologue at Elsy Jacobs, a long TT is the only thing missing from her collection.