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The Women's Road Racing Thread 2016

Page 32 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Annemiek The Prologue Queen will simply not let a trivial thing like a spinal fracture threaten her crown! That said, I think the real challenge for her will be once they start with the cobbles, because an ITT on tarmac or even concrete roads is going to be a lot less pressure on that back than the cobbles we'll see on the last two days, especially as she may have to do more work than usual on her own, since she's not riding for her trade team, and I can't imagine this will be raced lightly by the likes of Vos, de Jong (who is in a very strong position to be Rabo's leader here, although Vos can possibly pass her with time bonuses tomorrow), Brennauer, Johansson, Longo Borghini, Cromwell, Delzenne etc.. A few youngsters to keep an eye on in the race as well, I've been picking up on Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig's performances in the second half of the season which have been very promising, plus 18yo German Liane Lippert is here after her great showing in the Trophée d'Or. Alice Barnes is also in the British national team and should be a worthwhile contender for tomorrow if well-placed. Brennauer, Brand, Vos and Kopecky are all placed such that time bonuses could net them the lead tomorrow if they win. Should be a good race!

Over in France, the Tour de l'Ardèche finished today, with a potentially interesting stage. Perhaps of most interest in the early going was that one of the Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope '86 riders won the sprint for bonus seconds at the first intermediate, which prevented Edwige Pitel surpassing Kiesenhofer on the GC - Pitel guesting for the DN17-Poitou Charentes team which is not a pro team like Futuroscope but shows some hallmarks of local rivalry. Kathryn Donovan tried to go for a long solo but after she was reeled back in Doris Schweizer, usually of Cylance but here riding for the Racing Chance Foundation, went on the attack and the Lares team were happy to let her go, while the DN17 team were not strong enough to chase her down so that Pitel could seek to take time bonuses. In the end it was a moot point as the veteran Frenchwoman didn't have the burst to take it to the line, meaning that apart from Eider Merino who lost two minutes, nobody at the business end of the GC missed the selection of around 20 that came in two minutes behind Schweizer and were led across the line by Alison Jackson.

The final GC therefore is:
1 Flavia Oliveira (Lares-Waowdeals) BRA 19'51'24"
2 Anna Kiesenhofer (Mixta-2) AUT +2'12"
3 Edwige Pitel (DN17-Poitou Charentes) FRA +2'15"
4 Kseniya Tuhai (BePink) BLR +5'10"
5 Eri Yonamine (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope '86) JPN +5'26"
6 Margarita Victoria García (Spain National) ESP +6'05"
7 Tetyana Riabchenko (INPA-Bianchi) UKR +6'38"
8 Eider Merino Kortazar (Spain National) ESP +8'19"
9 Kathryn Donovan (Colavita-Bianchi) USA +9'31"
10 Asja Paladin (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) ITA +9'41"

It would suggest after a performance like this that (along with Hanna Nilsson in 11th and Alice Cobb in 12th) somebody probably ought to take a flyer on Ana Kiesenhofer next year with a view to the Giro, even if it's just one of the small Spanish squads like Bizkaia or Lointek since she's based out of Spain - she seems to be entirely biased in that direction and so may not be able to string together great results in one-day races or most short stage races, but as a cut-price gamble for a small or low budget team with a Giro invite, it could be worth it.
...and indeed Annemiek The Prologue Queen loses the lead due to time bonuses from the sprint in the first road stage around Moorslede, in West-Vlaanderen. A very flat stage, so the sprint finish was not unexpected; however importantly for the GC, Thalita de Jong lost a few seconds on the line in a split, while the likes of Fahlin, Guderzo and Lichtenberg lost a few more (12 to be precise) and Mieke Kröger who was one of the best in the chrono drops 25". Lucinda Brand is the recipient of the leader's jersey after taking the victory, the versatile Rabo rouleuse outpacing specialist sprinter Barbara Guarischi and more illustrious teammate Marianne Vos on the line to profit from maximum bonus seconds and, with a warm weather fight over pan flat and exposed roads, a minor psychological blow to strike with regards to the upcoming World Championships. Annemiek was able to come in on the same time but as she is in a weaker position sprinting-wise and, competing for the national team here rather than her trade team Orica, she had to do a bit more work in the stage to keep position and monitor moves than might have been the case otherwise.

1 Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) NED 3'14'10
2 Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM) ITA +st
3 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED +st
4 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +st
5 Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +st
6 Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) AUS +st
7 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) BEL +st
8 Sara Mustonen-Lichan (Sweden National) SWE +st
9 Monique van de Ree (Lares-Waowdeals) NED +st
10 Simona Frapporti (Hitec Products) ITA +st
Video from stage 2 as the riders race around Lierde, not far from tomorrow's stage town of Geraardsbergen with a rolling circuit today - not using the classic RVV climbs whereas tomorrow there's Berendries, Valkenberg, Kapelmuur and Bosberg. There were, however, a few stretches of cobbles, most notably Kapittelstraat near Ninove. Here, however, the toughest climb is Eikenmolen, which is a useful enough obstacle but hardly the Koppenberg if used in isolation leading to an expectation - which was fulfilled - of a somewhat reduced bunch gallop. Brand continued to collect bonus seconds however there was a problem with the rolling roadblocks that meant the race organizers sadly had to neutralize a large sector of the middle of the stage including the second climb of the day and an intermediate sprint. Sofie de Vuyst tried to gain time or at least make Rabo chase so that Lotte Kopecky could be fresher than her opposition at the end of the stage, but too many riders had an interest in the sprint for their teams to let her go. It looked with the slightly complex run-in and the uphill drag to the line that it was one for the experienced heads in the bunch, Marianne Vos going earlier than anticipated but unleashing an acceleration that carried her all the way to the line, though it got mighty close with Bronzini hunting her to the line. The pair of former World Champions opened up a slight gap in the sprint over the best of the rest, which was youth classification leader Lotte Kopecky, also the best Belgian in the race. The time bonuses for the victory move Vos past Brand in the GC so Rabo keep the jersey despite moving it from rider to rider. The neutralizations of some of the toughest part of the course hurt the selectivity and a bigger-than-expected group contested the win - 90 out of 110 riders made it in as part of the bunch or lost time only at the line; only those who'd been caught up in incidents or the very inexperienced lost time.

1 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED 2'56'50
2 Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +st
3 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) BEL +st
4 Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) GER +st
5 Emilia Fahlin (Alé-Cipollini) SWE +st
6 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +st
7 Élise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal) FRA +st
8 Simona Frapporti (Hitec Products) ITA +st
9 Valérie Demey (Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx) BEL +st
10 Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands National) NED +st

Which means with just the Geraardsbergen stage, with double the Muur, remaining, the business end of the GC looks like this:

Brand +4"
van Vleuten, Kopecky +10"
Brennauer +18"
Longo Borghini +22"
de Jong +23"
Delzenne +25"
Cromwell +28"
Johansson +30"

Meanwhile away from the Lotto Belgium Tour, Cervélo-Bigla have increased their numbers back to 9 with immediate effect, signing British-Irish Ciara Horne for next season and the remainder of this one.
Sep 9, 2016
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Libertine Seguros said:
most notably Kiesenhofer missed the split on the climb and lost another 48" to the rest of the contenders, thanks to the vagaries of thrown together mixed selections.
Just to rectify this, it's because she crashed on that climb.
Re: Re:

_anna_ said:
Libertine Seguros said:
most notably Kiesenhofer missed the split on the climb and lost another 48" to the rest of the contenders, thanks to the vagaries of thrown together mixed selections.
Just to rectify this, it's because she crashed on that climb.
Thanks for the correction and the additional detail, I hadn't picked up on that - I tried to follow the race after-the-fact using updates, but without a great deal of in-play info during the stages, and none of it in the languages I speak best, there's always the potential for me to miss something like that.
What I do know, however, is that in the Lotto Belgium Tour, Annemiek van Vleuten is absolutely back with a vengeance, bookending the race with victories by taking the Geraardsbergen stage solo to overhaul Marianne Vos' GC lead - while I wondered whether the tough cobbled surface may affect her more than the smooth roads of the TT given how recent her back injury was, I neglected to note that, unless you are Ilona Hoeksma (if you are, hi Ilona! Get well soon) Annemiek van Vleuten is tougher than you, so if she was suffering out there, she sure didn't show it.

Highlights thanks to RadReporter here.

The stage was animated by a lengthy solo effort from Alexandra Nessmar, chased down by Danielle Christmas on the Muur before the bunch was broken to pieces and ELB and Annemiek prised Vos away from her support. While they took the escapees back and at least a decent sized péloton regrouped on the circuit, when they got to the second ascent of the Muur, Annemiek went again and this time the elastic broke. Interesting groupings on the Kapelmuur in fact shown on the video - Annemiek and ELB at the front, Ensing and Brand behind, Johansson and Brennauer next, then Lichtenberg towing a group consisting of Fahlin, Kopecky, Ludwig and Mollebrø - so a real mix of riders from durable sprinters to pure climbers! Vos, however, was a full 30" behind, which she couldn't recoup, especially after Annemiek dropped Longo Borghini once and for all. A disorganized chase meant the Vos group swallowed up both the Lichtenberg group and the two duos in the gap, but by the time they got organized they were reliant on Brand and Vos who had very little left in the tank, and despite the group eventually numbering around 30, van Vleuten's lead was just too much to pull back with so few invested in the stage win and so many having buried themselves on the Kapelmuur.

Stage result:
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands National) NED 2'40'30"
2 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +1'04"
3 Kaat Hannes (Lensworld-Zannata) BEL +st
4 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED +st
5 Élise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal) FRA +st
6 Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) NED +st
7 Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High 5) SWE +st
8 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) BEL +st
9 Valérie Demey (TopSport Vlaanderen-Etixx) BEL +st
10 Emilia Fahlin (Alé-Cipollini) SWE +st

Final GC
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands National) NED 8'56'41
2 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED +1'04"
3 Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) NED +1'10"
4 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) BEL +1'16"
5 Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM) GER +1'23"
6 Élise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal) FRA +1'32"
7 Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High 5) SWE +1'37"
8 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +1'41"
9 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA +1'43"
10 Emilia Fahlin (Alé-Cipollini) SWE +1'43"

Meanwhile over in Italy one of the more... storied races of the calendar began today, the "Premondiale" Giro della Toscana, also known as the Memorial Michela Fanini. This year's edition continues the same course as 2014 and 2015, with a 2,2km prologue, a flattish stage tomorrow and then a tougher stage between Lucca and Capannori on Sunday. This has been a solid development in a race which has had some problems in the past, which came to a head in 2013, when the entire Rabo, Argos, BePink, Wiggle, Optum, Hitec, Specialized, US and French national squads all withdrew en masse regardless of GC positions to protest rider safety after a series of problems related to marshaling and road closures. Especially troublesome for the race since obviously it bears the name of Michela Fanini, whose father is key to its organization, who was killed after a collision with a car at the age of just 21. Downscaling the race to fewer stages on more consistent courses in order to preserve the safety standards is obviously a good thing, but the 2013 problems have had their effects in terms of the field now drawn to the event, with a fairly limited international field. However, the Italian teams are out in force, with this being one of very few races to allow teams of up to eight, as well as at least some high profile international representation courtesy of a full-strength Cervélo team including both Moolman-Pasio and Lepistö. The defending champion is Małgorzata Jasińska, who lines up for Alé, but given that they're splitting their team with the Lotto Belgium Tour there are only five starters for them. Pitel will lead the SC Michela Fanini team, INPA are at full strength with Tušlaitė, Riabchenko, Vieceli and Stricker all notable, TopGirls have the Paladin sisters, Aromitalia have Leleivytė, while Ardêche winner Flavia Oliveira's mercenary season continues with a return to the colours of BTC City-Ljubljana. There are also some ringers and national teams providing some left field options - Solovey for Ukraine, and Vysotska for the Italian amateur team Conceria Zabri the most obvious.

Cervélo may be pretty small as top level WT teams go, and certainly it's odd that a team with so few riders contracted can nevertheless count at least two truly world class riders among them, but here they took domination to a level unseen since Rabo went nuts at the 2014 Emakumeen Bira, taking all of the top four places in the prologue, with perhaps unsurprisingly Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, the team's strongest all-rounder, winning the stage in a time of 2'56. Teammates Lotta Lepistö and Stephanie Pohl set absolutely identical times for 2nd while another Cervélo rider, Lisa Klein, took fourth and the best young rider's jersey, to ensure that Cervélo hold every single classification leadership jersey available.

1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA 2'56"
2= Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) FIN +2"
2= Stephanie Pohl (Cervélo-Bigla) GER +2"
4 Lisa Klein (Cervélo-Bigla) GER +4"
5 Hanna Solovey (Ukraine National) UKR +5"
6 Daiva Tušlaitė (INPA-Bianchi) LTU +6"
7 Lara Vieceli (INPA-Bianchi) ITA +6"
8 Polona Bagatelj (BTC City-Ljubljana) SLO +6"
9 Silvija Latožaitė (Aromitalia-Vaiano) LTU +7"
10 Lucie Hochmann (Dukla Mix) CZE +7"
An interesting selection was made in the second stage of the Giro della Toscana, with the péloton being trimmed down a lot - eventually an escape of ten managed to duke out the win. Although several teams were strongly represented - especially INPA, who managed to get three riders into the move - nobody was able to overhaul the race lead of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio even after they successfully isolated the South African from her teammates, so the top-heavy GC is no longer the case ahead of tomorrow's final stage. The strongest riders in the difficult terrain were all to the fore today - along with, obviously, Moolman-Pasio, we saw Jasińska, Ardêche winner Oliveira, Tušlaitė and Paladin in the move. Eventually they only took a few seconds out of the reduced bunch, which came in 16" after the stage winner, and eventually INPA's numbers in the move paid off with Änna Zita Maria Stricker able to take the victory ahead of Rasa Leleivytė and Moolman-Pasio, not especially surprising given she and Rasa were almost certainly the strongest sprinters in the group and with INPA having more representation in the move than anybody else she had had to do less work.

1 Änna Zita Maria Stricker (INPA-Bianchi) ITA 3'22'21
2 Rasa Leleivytė (Aromitalia-Vaiano) LTU +st
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA +st
4 Soraya Paladin (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) ITA +st
5 Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana) ITA +st
6 Flavia Oliveira (BTC City-Ljubljana) BRA +st
7 Lara Vieceli (INPA-Bianchi) ITA +st
8 Małgorzata Jasińska (Alé-Cipollini) POL +st
9 Elena Franchi (Aromitalia-Vaiano) ITA +3"
10 Daiva Tušlaitė (INPA-Bianchi) LTU +3"
Half an hour of highlights of the Lotto Belgium Tour, with excellent footage from Motomedia, here.

So, tomorrow the Madrid Challenge will bring the inaugural Women's World Tour to a close. It's a bit of a nothing race for the WWT if we're honest; the overall victory is secure for Megan Guarnier who can't be overhauled, and the only woman who could pose a challenge for the U23 jersey is injured. The team competition is dead and buried with Boels' domination in the early season having opened up an unassailable lead so this has been sewn up some time ago so the race is, in reality, something of a dead rubber. Which is, I guess, fine, considering it's the third such race of the World Tour - one of those borderline crits that are so difficult for teams and fans alike to rate as their value is difficult to ascertain. After all, we have a spate of these races where, to tie in with an extant men's race, the women get one of these flat circuit races, and the prize pots for these races tend to be among the best in the sport, but it leaves us with a difficult question, which is, what is parity/equality? Because the problem is, while it's good to have an attractive prize pot that enables the often cash-strapped women's péloton to pick up some much-needed financial support, at the same time, the courses are far from interesting from a sporting perspective, and seeing full TV coverage as we did for La Course and the RideLondon GP, where you have many laps of the bunch riding before a straightforward sprint, but not for the Giro Rosa's queen stage where the best were going at it with 60km remaining, opens up another problem in that these circuit races don't really showcase what the women can do, racing-wise, and aren't as likely to win new fans of the sport as races on more interesting courses, such as we saw in the Olympics.

Nevertheless, we do still have a good field out in force for the charge up and down the Paseo del Prado, although there are a few notable absences, such as Cervélo-Bigla, due to the clash with the Giro della Toscana, and Rabo-Liv, who have skipped most of the flatter WT races all season long. There's still a pretty useful field of sprinters and not-quite-pure-sprinters-but-capable-of-mixing-it-up type riders, so we can probably expect that there would be enough interest to see a bunch finish here unless a break that features representation from every major team can get away, in which case it would probably be from them. Confalonieri from Lensworld gets dorsal #1 while Alé have two strong options with Tagliaferro and even more so Bastianelli. Lares are here with van de Ree, while Leah Kirchmann is not a pure sprinter, nevertheless has a more than capable finish on her, has podiumed flat one-day races along these lines earlier in the season and will prove Liv's main threat especially in the absence of Floortje - due to consistency and doing as many events as possible she has ghosted her way up to 2nd in the WWT in fact!!! Hitec have strangely omitted their sprinters, though Kitchen has a decent enough finish on her. TopSport have Demey and Kelly Druyts while BTC will likely hope lightning can strike twice for surprise Plouay winner Eugenia Bujak. As ever, the Boels sextet looks stacked, but with no super-sprinter so they may try to make t tough - Blaak, Dideriksen and Majerus all give them options, however, while Guarnier's presence I suspect is more ceremonial, about being awarded the jersey at the end of the race.. Orica's team is small (5 starters) but may be a premonition of the Worlds team with both Sarah Roy and Loren Rowney as options. Parkhotel are also there with just 5 and missing Jip who's probably their fastest finisher. Cylance have Sheyla Gutiérrez for a sprint, but Carmen Small has done decently when sprinting for herself of late and I will always ignore false dawns and hope this is the day Rossella Ratto shows her class. BePink are even smaller - four starters - but Sanguineti and Valsecchi are both outsiders with a chance to upset the apple cart. Lotto appear to have lost their minds, omitting Lotte Kopecky, who is a good up-and-coming sprinter in great form after the Lotto Belgium Tour, yet find space for Lichtenberg, a glorious climber but not really suited to the course of this race. Futuroscope will surely place somebody well - their biggest problem will be working out who to ride for, because Biannic, Fournier, Jeuland and Duval all have options, though I'd expect in normal circumstances that Fournier would lead them. Finally Wiggle, who are almost comically over-strength for this race with Jolien d'Hoore trying to rediscover her road lgs after Rio, Chloe Hosking who won La Course, and Amy Pieters who is a strong sprinter and lowlands racer who will be able to monitor most moves and allow the team to limit their efforts in the chase.
So! The Women's World Tour is now over, after the Madrid Challenge that precedes the final day of the Vuelta. Although a few riders - including some very unexpected ones (Claudia Lichtenberg!!!) - managed to escape inside of 20km to go, it was perhaps unsurprising to find that the group was victorious, as you would expect in a race such as this. Having had a bit of trouble early in the season thanks to missing key moves in the trickier classics, Wiggle have gradually pulled themselves into the centre of the World Tour's elite, at the level they should be, although a lot of that has come from victories at some of the 'lesser' races, such as Chongming and these short distance pseudo-crits. A large problem for them has been that, with the Olympic year, having a number of riders not suited to the Rio course focusing on track events or not wanting to tire themselves out ahead of the late-season Worlds in Doha, they haven't always had their full complement of sprinters to call upon. Chief among the absentees was of course Jolien d'Hoore, arguably the strongest pure sprinter in the women's bunch in 2015. With Rio being over, however, Jolien is back, and she led home a Wiggle 1-2 ahead of La Course winner Chloe Hosking, relegating former World Champion Marta Bastianelli to 3rd. Chantal Blaak managed to finish 4th to ensure that Boels had something to go home with... you know, other than the WT overall and the teams award...

1 Jolien d'Hoore (Wiggle-High 5) BEL 2'01'01
2 Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High 5) AUS +st
3 Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cipollini) ITA +st
4 Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) NED +st
5 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Lensworld-Zannata) ITA +st
6 Carmen Small (Cylance) USA +st
7 Monique van de Ree (Lares-Waowdeals) NED +st
8 Eugenia Bujak (BTC City-Ljubljana) POL +st
9 Roxane Fournier (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope '86) FRA +st
10 Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products) NOR +st

Jolien isn't just back, she's BACK.

Kirsten Wild is still the benchmark pure sprinter for me, but peak D'Hoore is thereabouts, maybe quicker. She had speed to spare today, although losing Hosking's wheel could be a sign of peleton rustiness. Chloe, dreaming of Qatar, also looks fast at the moment.

By peak D'Hoore I mean 2015, but she's actually only done one full-time road season, last year.
Another season like this however, and Hosking will have to be considered too!

Away from the world of sprinting, in Tuscany the final stage of the Memorial Michela Fanini took place, with Cervélo sticking Lisa Klein, in the GC top 10, into the break to absolve themselves of the responsibility of chasing after going hard all day yesterday. This served to mean that when the escape was brought back on the lower slopes of the final time, a fully-rested Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio attacked in the maglia rosa, with only Oliveira able to follow. Ash, when interviewed later, said that since she knew she was well clear of Flavia on the GC and could likely outsprint her, was happy for the duo to work together, and eventually as expected the South African outsprinted her break companion to take the stage and solidify her GC win, the two coming in almost a minute ahead of a group of 20 which looks to have been split late on, possibly by a crash as I note Lara Vieceli has been given the same time as the second group but finished after the riders at 1'29. The other Cervélo riders went tumbling down the GC, with Lepistö, Hänselmann and Klein over 10 minutes back and only Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin within five minutes of her team leader, but with a clear GC win they'll not be too concerned I would wager.

1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA 2'34'37
2 Flavia Oliveira (BTC City-Ljubljana) BRA +st
3 Änna Zita Maria Stricker (INPA-Bianchi) ITA +52"
4 Soraya Paladin (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) ITA +52"
5 Małgorzata Jasińska (Alé-Cipollini) POL +52"
6 Edwige Pitel (SC Michela Fanini-Rox) FRA +52"
7 Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana) ITA +52"
8 Tetyana Riabchenko (INPA-Bianchi) UKR +52"
9 Elena Franchi (Aromitalia-Vaiano) ITA +52"
10 Martina Ritter (BTC City-Ljubljana) AUT +52"

Final GC:
1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) RSA 5'59'38
2 Flavia Oliveira (BTC City-Ljubljana) BRA +24"
3 Änna Zita Maria Stricker (INPA-Bianchi) ITA +1'05"
4 Lara Vieceli (INPA-Bianchi) ITA +1'11"
5 Małgorzata Jasińska (Alé-Cipollini) POL +1'15"
6 Soraya Paladin (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) ITA +1'18"
7 Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana) ITA +1'21"
8 Hanna Solovey (Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental) UKR +1'29"
9 Elena Franchi (Aromitalia-Vaiano) ITA +1'33"
10 Martina Ritter (BTC City-Ljubljana) AUT +1'33"
Its kinda sad the only chances we have to see women race is the crits in Paris and Madrid and obviously the Worlds, on TV that is. It doesn't necessarily make for some great racing and therefore, not increased interest in the women's peloton. I guess it is what it is, but it surely isn't a good window to show women's cycling off, but maybe its better than nothing.

Valv.Piti said:
Its kinda sad the only chances we have to see women race is the crits in Paris and Madrid and obviously the Worlds, on TV that is. It doesn't necessarily make for some great racing and therefore, not increased interest in the women's peloton. I guess it is what it is, but it surely isn't a good window to show women's cycling off, but maybe its better than nothing.

That’s the debate really, no-one really thinks the city centre crits are much of a showcase but the publicity and coverage is on a new level. Generally the teams seem to be in favour on the basis that the WWT (and the elevation of the Paris, London and Madrid races) is an attempt to move women’s cycling towards a more sustainable future, even if there a lots of reservations about how that is being done.

It’s all a work in progress and there is plenty of progressing still to do. Libertine has previously suggested, with typical eloquence, ways in which these showpiece races could be made more interesting, and perhaps maximise the value of that coverage and publicity. The Rio RR showed that a women’s race can be good viewing (imo) but I don’t really know how difficult or expensive that sort of race is to cover… and not many cities have Rio’s topography to work with.
Cervélo-Bigla look to strengthen for next year, bringing two young Danes into the squad, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (21) and Marie Vilmann (22). I've done my share of hyping Cecilie after her great showing at the Tour de Féminin Krasna Lipa, where she took two stages and the overall, and the top 10 of the BeNe Tour and top 20 of Norway and the Lotto Belgium Tour. She's also managed the top 10 of Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik and the Boels Rentals Hills Classic, so she can go well in tough classics terrain. Vilmann has apparently (the team quoted the boss of BMS-BIRN, from whom they made the signings) been Cecilie's go-to helper, the two working strongly together as a pair to protect positions, being part of the same finishing group at GGG and also having been the stronger finisher in Graciá-Orlová where her younger compatriot had to play domestique to her rather than vice versa.

Given the relatively strong way that Cecilie has adapted to competing against the elites of the péloton she seems a very strong prospect, plus having a friend transfer with her could well be a positive as well - in addition it gives the team a bit more rouleur help for Lepistö, freeing some of the other riders up to focus on helping on the climbing side for Moolman-Pasio.

Today's Belang van Limburg

Jolien D'Hoore extends with Wiggle-High5 with one year. She had a lot of offers from other teams but wished to clarify the situation before the Worlds.

I love how the journo from the Belang considered Madrid Challenge prestigious. :D
I thought Jolien had already signed for 2017. Maybe it was an option or something.

Edit: I see Peter van der Veen has just raised this with Jolien on twitter, querying whether that’s actually an extra extension through 2018.
Right, an overall wrap-up of the inaugural Women's WorldTour.

Ultimately, as we know, this was a veritable festival of Boels-Dolmans, and they dominated proceedings in the early part of proceedings, after which they had such a substantial lead in both the individual and team classifications that they were insurmountable. Winning each and every one of the first five WWT races (one of which with a 1-2) and going 2nd and 3rd in the first they didn't win obviously is a key element of this. Another issue that may need ironing out is that all stage race GCs pay the same points. Without wanting to be dismissive, given that there are points available for each stage, I don't think that the GC of the Tour of Chongming Island, which is based entirely around sprints, and the GC of the Tour of California, so heavily dependent on the TTT, should have been paying the same points as the Giro Rosa, although in fairness given there are more stages and the likes of Guarnier and Stevens figured so heavily at the top of most stages anyhow it may be a moot point. It's also worth noting that Guarnier took the lead of the World Tour thanks to winning both of the US events, at least one of which a significant number of WT teams - including Rabo-Liv - chose not to participate in. Those US events also had another unintended consequence but I'll get onto that later.

Six teams won World Tour races, with the highest profile team to go without being Canyon-SRAM. Until August all of the wins had been bogarted by the "big three", that is to say Boels, Rabo and Wiggle, but after Kirsten Wild took the RideLondon Crit, we had the two surprise wins, Emilia Fahlin for Alé and Eugenia Bujak for BTC City-Ljubljana, in the late season; I'm not sure how much likelihood there will be of such surprises being repeated going forward as it's quite likely the Olympics have had a key effect with a lot of riders focusing specifically on those and then with the Worlds being late this year, races falling in the gap between the Olympics and the Worlds preparation have seen much of the elite péloton not quite at 100% - for example, Armitstead's form at Plouay and the Boels Rentals Tour now compared to in March on similar roads is like night and day.

The eventual Individual Rankings:
1 Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) USA 946
2 Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) CAN 624
3 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) GBR 545
4 Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) NED 541
5 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) ITA 523
6 Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) USA 519
7 Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) NED 492
8 Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High 5) SWE 463
9 Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High 5) AUS 450
10 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED 442

Here we see the worthy value of participation in a number of races. Leah Kirchmann managed two third places as her best results in the World Tour (at Chongming Island and the RideLondon crit, although she managed 2nd place in two Chongming stages and won the prologue at the Giro Rosa) but she finishes ahead of Lizzie Armitstead who won four WWT races plus a stage of the Aviva Women's Tour; mainly as Lizzie has participated in little outside of her targeted events and not picked up placements; she's been either winning or well off the pace. Similarly, the best young rider in the WWT was Kasia Niewiadoma, quite comfortably in the end, however although she was highly competitive in each WT race she entered, these were comparatively few in number owing to the lack of races which truly suited her and so the team preferred to utilize her in races like the Giro del Trentino which were not World Tour but offered the chance of victory.

To compare, the top 10 women in 2016 per CQ are:
1 Megan Guarnier (1st in WWT)
2 Emma Johansson (8th in WWT)
3 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (11th in WWT)
4 Anna van der Breggen (7th in WWT)
5 Marianne Vos (10th in WWT)
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (5th in WWT)
7 Chantal Blaak (4th in WWT)
8 Lizzie Armitstead (3rd in WWT)
9 Leah Kirchmann (2nd in WWT)
10 Annemiek van Vleuten (23rd in WWT)

As you can see, once you take the WWT races out of the equation, the Boels domination seems much less clear. Guarnier is still the clear top name, however the balance between Boels, Rabo and Wiggle seems much less one-sided. The amount of riding one does in the WT races certainly clearly impacts the standings of course (e.g. for Kirchmann, the WWT represents 30/51 race days for her, for Stevens it's 20/31, whereas for Johansson it's 15/57 so it's unsurprising that she should be underrepresented for the results that she has in the WT overall standings even though she was highly prominent, including a few victories, in several long-standing and prestigious races with good fields like the Emakumeen Bira, the Thüringen Rundfahrt and the Boels Rentals Tour) and has perhaps contributed to an illusion of the domination by the Boels-Dolmans team being greater than it is, especially as so few of the courses were outside of the remit of the majority of their riders.

The youth standings were a bit of a damp squib unfortunately, thanks primarily to the injury to Floortje Mackaij. Kasia Niewiadoma only actually entered seven WT races (although one was the Giro), and scored the maximum of 6 points in all of them bar La Course (where it's not exactly surprising she wouldn't even if she hadn't been caught up in a crash). Apart from Tuhai who seems to need longer climbs, there isn't anybody else in the classification who would seem to be a threat to her in the hilly races, whereas in the flatter ones too many ended in sprints for anybody to consistently gain the points needed to challenge her.

On the team classifications, however, do we have any confirmation on whether the 'top 16 rule' that has applied this year will apply based on the team's points this year, or on the squads that they have assembled for 2017? It's just that when you look at the top 16, there are a couple of teams who will likely struggle to be as competitive as they were this year, and also that point out some of the issues of the WT race selections - most notably the presence in the top 16 of TWENTY16-Bikerider, whose points were almost entirely scored by Kristin Armstrong's GC position in the Tour of California, itself based almost entirely on the team's TTT performance, as the team scored 236 of its 265 points in that race, with the other 29 coming in the Philadelphia International Criterium - not one point from other races. Shorn of Armstrong, they may not be competitive, and it seems odd that they would then have the automatic rights to the invite ahead of UHC or BePink, both of whom were much more key to the whole season, but were either in non-WT races (Neben winning the Route de France, for example, or Zabelinskaya's Thüringen showings) or peripheral points (Tuhai's low end top 10 in the Giro). There are also a few teams who had a disproportionate number of points for one race, but have at least been more active during the year - though of course if they WANT to go WWT then TWENTY16 would point out that some of those teams had automatic invites so of course they'd spread their results out better (Parkhotel Valkenburg, for example, whose points centre around Chongming, likewise Futuroscope, and Lotto-Soudal, who scored the bulk of their points thanks to Claudia Lichtenberg's tilt at the Giro GC).

Looking at the calendar, I think there are a couple of things that need to be looked at. Firstly, if long-established all-rounders like Emma J are choosing to do long-established, prestigious non-WT stage races over the WT events, are the WT events the right ones? Secondly, the choices of stage races are strange, at least on the evidence of 2016's parcours. The Giro is obvious, but apart from that the stage races chosen seemingly reflect the same kind of parcours as the rest of the calendar. There are plenty of sprint races in the calendar without giving out the bonuses for the GC in Chongming which makes it artificially inflating for riders' stats; the TTT at California was too decisive in the final results. I do agree with the AWT being WT due to the level of fan interest and the professional coverage which will be beneficial, but do wonder if maybe Thüringen or Emakumeen Bira ought to be introduced. California I think would be better with an ITT - I appreciate the reasoning behind many of the calls but at the same time including more races with a decent length ITT in the World Tour would hopefully bring to an end this concerning trend at the moment for TT specialists to not ride on the main WT teams, stay fresh for the major championships and then focus solely on those, winning ahead of riders who are the objective best in the world but have contested several race days, doing very few full length chronos. The mooted addition of the Giro dell'Emilia to the WWT next year I think is a good move although I do feel they should at least climb San Luca twice at the end to introduce it as a proper climbing race.

As I've said before, I am so over the pseudo-crits now. I appreciate the reasoning for La Course and the Madrid Challenge but realistically, RideLondon is almost insulting given the better option is SO simple. I understand that closing the roads needed for the circuit is tough enough for the other two, but at RideLondon the much better course is right there and available! If they could move the RideLondon race onto the proper course that would be a great improvement; I also wonder about the viability of introducing women's versions of the GP Montréal and Quebec, maybe on alternating days, or before the men, same as at Plouay. There are a few notable Canadian riders - Kirchmann, Canuel, Numainville, Pilote-Fortin, Whitten, Albrecht - and many of them are Quebecois. There used to be a moderately successful Canadian Women's World Cup race in Montreal on a similar course, which was basically killed off to fund the men's races - it's where Emma Pooley announced herself as a superstar by riding away at km 0 and never being seen again - maybe they could bring that back. The circuits of both races would make good courses for women's racing.

Obviously, however, we have to be realistic and say that while the World Tour has many notable flaws, 2016 is not the ideal way to judge it. Having an Olympic year which will take away many riders' focus for the WT events (see the field at RideLondon being depleted compared to that at La Course, after a crash-affected race led to many riders not wanting to take the risk in a flat circuit race so close to Rio) as well as a World Championships being held uncharacteristically late so orphaned somewhat from the final WT races, means that the actual competition for the WT overall was a bit limited, especially with stars on comparatively small teams not participating in a number of races in order to do events better suited to them (Orica and Cervélo are particularly notable, although they both skipped the Giro, which would have been an excellent opportunity for Garfoot, van Vleuten and especially Moolman-Pasio to gain points otherwise) which I anticipate could be a lot better if we get a better mix of flat, rolling, hilly and mountainous races so as to bring riders like ELB and Niewiadoma into legitimate contention that it's hard for riders without a sprint to be at present (as seen by Evie Stevie, who was superb in just about everything she entered but still only managed 6th) and if the season wasn't broken up by the Olympics, with a single focus of a year-round World Tour leading to the World Championships.
Ellen Van Dijck is European ITT champion ahead of her compatriot and Olympic champion Anna Van der Breggen.

Ann-Sophie Duyck , the Belgian, came 6th. I'm not really fond of the Euro but glad to see Ann-Sophie back to her own level.


On the section where I had to pull a big gear, I came a tiny bit too short to pull through. Now here, I can compete with the best which I couldn't manage in Rio. I realise now more than ever what I've missed in Rio.

(Article from the Gazet van Antwerpen yesterday)
I have mixed feelings on the Euros now being open instead of U23 but given that the jersey is seemingly now being worn year-round it makes sense to at least be open. The differences in how seriously various nations take it are pretty clear though - the Germans sent Claudia, but backed her up only with youngsters (this became clear with a lap to go when Lichtenberg was in the front row of names on the climb, but all her teammates were clinging on to the rear of the peloton), and the limited British selection was purely developmental (and domestic-based with none of the Boels or Wiggle Brits in attendance), yet the Dutch, Italian, Polish, Swedish and Belgian squads were clearly either full strength or a good approximation thereof.

The last 20k of the women's race are online here.

Interesting to see the same tactic from the Poles that they attempted at the Olympics, with Anna Plichta in the early move, plus the strong autumn that Emilia Fahlin has had meaning more freedom for Emma J than she's used to at these races where she's often been fending alone or with only one or two helpers (usually Fahlin anyway) in the bunch as she had no need to expend any energy with Fahlin up the road. Plichta has really shown some good strength in the latter season and is good friends with Niewiadoma, I'd be interested to see if she moves to a bigger team either next year or in 2018. Subsuming the U23 competition into the elite competition is sensible, but then on the Plumelec finish I think we'd all have been surprised if Kasia hadn't won the U23s anyway even before her win on the Cauberg a couple of weeks ago. Ludwig being 2nd among U23s and top 10 overall is a good sign though, she's looked good in rolling terrain and against the clock, so a strong finish on a punchy climb like the Côte de Cadoudal certainly is promising and I think she will be well poised to make some serious progress with Cervélo next year.

It seems the decisive move was made on the penultimate ascent of the Côte de Cadoudal, with Anna van der Breggen initiating the move, followed closely by Elisa Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma, with the latter then following up with an acceleration of her own that stretched the elastic leaving us with a leading quartet of the three plus European Games Road Race winner Alena Amialiusik. This left us with a strong-climbing quartet and a total crapshoot as to the result of a sprint, since none of them are particularly vaunted for this skill; in certain parallels with the race in Baku, however, three of the four fought out the medals there, with Amialiusik defeating Niewiadoma with van der Breggen taking bronze after being forced to lead out, a mistake she was keen to show she had learnt from. Rasa Leleivyte, Lichtenberg and Alice Maria Arzuffi (another young rising star) were the next riders on the road, behind which Johansson fought hard to cross the gap with Bronzini and Vos in her wheel as well, deadweighting her with Anna and Elisa up the road and Cordon, Ludwig, Plichta and Bujak joining at the bell.

Johansson fought hard and caught both the Lichtenberg trio and the leading quartet, but the warning shots about who the strongest riders in the race were had been fired. On the final lap it was the French who initiated hostilities, knowing that in the absence of PFP they lacked a rider with sufficient punch to take this from the bunch finish and therefore would need to attack. The Dutch were aggressive and so were the Italians (ELB in particular) but the Poles were also attentive and each small move would have some permutation of those three. After a couple of moves failed to make any impression it seemed however that everybody was willing to hold fire until the final climb, although we did see a somewhat uncharacteristic move from Sheyla Gutiérrez, normally a sprinter. Poland clearly backed their young climber, however, and so set her namesake, Kasia Pawlowska, to control the front of the bunch in the same way she often does for Boels, to make sure that the Unknown One was well-placed at the base of the climb.

After some initial forays, the climb calmed down to a rhythm as Chantal Blaak led into the final kilometre with all the elite puncheurs present happy to mark each other behind her. With a certain sense of inevitability after her team had done so much work in the run-in, it was Niewiadoma who launched the all-important move, the lightweight climber launching a blistering attack with 900m remaining, quickly opening up a small gap before Anna van der Breggen could react, showing herself to be slightly stronger than the others following, inevitably meaning ELB and Amialiusik as per the previous lap, but also Rasa Leleivyte, who has been surprisingly good in punchy finishes this season. When the Olympic champion made it onto Kasia's wheel the Pole let up, but the damage had already been done behind, with the group of 5 being chased by another group of 9 that had split away from the rest of the bunch. Rasa was having to give everything to hold the wheels of the specialist climbers in front and only just clambering onto them, which explains why despite being the only one of the five with real sprinting prowess she was unable to profit.

For a while it felt like Baku déjà vu, with Amialiusik and Niewiadoma forcing Anna VDB to lead out, but the corner is a bit closer to the end in Plumelec, and with ELB having been boxed in and Alena clearly not as strong in the sprint as she had been in Baku, with a bit of a grind of a sprint between a group of riders who really don't like that aspect of riding Anna was the strongest, and despite their best efforts Kasia and Elisa simply couldn't get around her. It really did look like a sprint between four non-sprinters who had nothing left. The interesting thing will be, will Anna get a special jersey? I've no doubt Rabo will keep the blue jersey in-house, but will Boels continue the tradition when she moves on next year?

1 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 2'55'55
2 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) U23 +st
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) +st
4 Alena Amialiusik (Belarus) +st
5 Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania) +1"
6 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) +12"
7 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) +12"
8 Emma Johansson (Sweden) +12"
9 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) U23 +12"
10 Séverine Éraud (France) U23 +12"
More transfer news over the last few days.

Dani King continues the exodus from Wiggle, she has signed for Cylance, who appear to be strengthening; a few days ago they also picked up Kirsten Wild from Hitec, which is a big move in terms of shoring up their results, which they have struggled with in 2016 thanks to losing Shelley Olds to injury early on. With Small, King and Wild they've managed to solidify their core and won't have to rely so heavily on riders who are relatively inconsistent, such as Ratto. Wiggle also appear to have lost Chloe Hosking, who has moved over to Alé-Cipollini in a slightly unexpected move, and Mara Abbott who is retiring. I'd start to express some concern about Wiggle at this point to be quite honest - although their strength in depth meant they were able to nurse Abbott's problems by allowing her to race only her intended calendar, guesting in the US and just coming to Europe for Binda and the Giro, there are huge gaps now emerging in the squad. With Johansson's retirement planned, they lose their most consistent all-rounder, with Hosking leaving and Bronzini retiring they lose two of their three real sprint options and will have to rely heavily on d'Hoore for those results, with King leaving they lose one of their most trusted domestiques, and they haven't really done any strengthening. Apart from PFP there are no significant rumours to the team either, and at the moment Pauline is staying tight-lipped as she's needing a break from cycling.

Meanwhile, Cervélo continue to grow, renewing contracts for Hänselmann and Koppenburg whilst also bringing Allie Dragoo into the fold, the American was a key part of Kristin Armstrong's Twenty16-BikeRider team and is very good against the clock so will be a very useful helper for Moolman-Pasio and Lepistö (and potentially also Ludwig if Plumelec is anything to go by).

Liv have also been strengthening considerably this off-season, retaining most of their key riders and also making some significant signings such as Brand and van Dijk. They also now have retained Rozanne Slik, and signed 18-year-old German junior Liane Lippert, who was 6th overall in the Trophée d'Or and just outside the top 20 in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, so promising results. It also means Floortje's no longer the baby of the team!
Yes. Chloe Hosking, Dani King and Mara, Emma J and Bronzini are riders they will miss, but they do have:

Jolien D’Hoore
Mayuko Hagiwara
Anna Sanchis

All contracted for 2017

and quite a few not officially confirmed in or out:

Lucy Garner
Amy Pieters
Annette Edmondson

Audrey Cordon
Amy Roberts

Anna Christian

Of those, Edmondson seems to be staying and I suspect Garner, Roberts, Christian and Pieters will too. ELB seems to be the future of GC for Wiggle, but her plans may by influenced by what Audrey does, and she’s hinted that she wants more opportunities so I don’t know.

Even if they keep those ten, you’d think they need a strong rouleur at minimum. For sprints, Edmo, Garner, Pieters and Jolien are decent… Annette is fast and will be full time, and Lucy must start to fulfil her potential at some point. For hills, ELB, Hagiwara, Sanchis and Christian is a start, assuming Anna Sanchis rides more than the 20 days she did in ’16, and Anna Christian improves.

They have previously maintained a core of GB talent but hard to see who they could bring in who would be useful in the short term. Bring back Eileen Roe? Try to tempt Hannah Barnes from Canyon? Sign a domestic talent like Claire Rose or Katy Archibald?

It’s all quite surprising given how active in recruitment they have previously been.

GuyIncognito said:
It's amazing how the riders I enjoy watching are all retiring at the same time.
2017 is going to be a heck of a lot less interesting, that's a given.
A lot will depend really. The Olympic cycle has a much more prominent effect in women's cycling. I think the biggest loss to the racing is going to be Emma J, undoubtedly, because she's so key to the racing in such a wide spectrum of events and due to experience and race smarts seemingly always makes the right selections. Bronzini is a great experienced hand, but the last couple of years have seen her relying on experience and guile to beat the riders coming through who now have superior top end speed; there are some other riders in Giorgia's mould in the péloton, while Abbott only races sporadically and while her tempo in the mountains usually breaks things apart, her lopsided skillset and unwillingness to break from the calendar she feels comfortable with means that there's only going to be a few races - the Giro and the US domestic races - that will really suffer from an enjoyability point of view from her absence. Stevens I think is a big loss, as I always really liked her, but Boels have already replaced her quite comprehensively with the signing of van der Breggen - and Evie did a reduced calendar over the last couple of years which means that her absence may not be as immediately felt as Johansson. She has a great backstory that makes her easy to warm to. Pooley had already retired once already and so this comeback was relatively limited anyhow, and Armstrong is already onto retirement 3.0 and her comeback was very limited in scope anyway so it's hard to have the same attachment to her as the riders I follow week in week out.

Sentimentally I will miss Evie Stevie a lot, but Emma J's absence is going to feel really weird.