Not the same, but I hope and believe that Emma will still be part of bike racing. Her 2017 contract was signed with both sides knowing she would be largely or completely off the bike.
I suppose it's mostly that, when summed up. But there's more detail to it that I'm having trouble putting in writing.Libertine Seguros said:I get what you mean, there are a few stories that have developed over several years that have meant you don't need to follow the sport fanatically to pick them up (edit as this didn't come across right: this is not intended to mean that you aren't a fan, more to say that having these narratives that are easy to pick up are good because they can give a first time viewer a reason to care and become invested in the races, increasing their attachment to competitors and likelihood of coming back to watch more, which is obviously a good thing for the sport) - there are ones like the Abbott/Pooley mountain duels which were never truly a rivalry because of different season's aims, but as the two truly elite climbers they always did battle in the most mountainous races, but the most compelling one that we now miss out on is Emma J's quest for the huge victory amid that flood of podiums that now looks like it will forever elude her. It's about as straightforward and sympathetic a story as you can get - the Poulidor-like battle to shake that reputation as the nearly-woman as she's unable to quite get one over when it counts on the all-conquering champions. It's also true that while there are some interesting backstories in the bunch to match Evie's, riders like Delzenne, while strong, are not at the same level of prominence that Stevens was at her best.
Well, I've never really been one to willingly seek out the 'behind the scenes' stuff in any sport.Libertine Seguros said:If anything the problem may be an unintended consequence of the improved coverage and move towards sustainability that that generation fought for - we can see more of the racing now, which is a great thing, but it does mean teams don't necessarily feel as much necessity for the 'inside the péloton' type stuff to get the characters known. The other issue is that while there are still some strong and compelling characters in women's cycling, they aren't necessarily the ones at the front of the péloton scoring the big wins, so the storyline may be more that you want to see them do well without it holding the same kind of emotional attachment as we feel as Johansson takes another punch to the gut at the finishing line.
I'm not aiming to "resent" anyone, as you put it. For me personally that reduces my interest in races. When people like (retired examples from the men's peloton to distance as much as possible from the current women's) Cancellara or Bettini were racing, I was less inclined to take an interest as there was a chance the asshat might win and I don't want to see that. It's not about disliking someone.Libertine Seguros said:It's certainly possible after Rio that Annemiek becomes one of those stories, with renewed interest in her travails following her dramatic exit from an almost certain gold medal position; and much as I dislike her (and in fact precisely because of it, not because of me individually but because of her PR in general) Armitstead's success might create a strong storyline as well - one of the problems with the top name riders you mention is that, simply speaking, Vos is just too nice to truly resent. She's no cannibal, she celebrates her teammates' wins, is happy to pass up wins to keep her riders onside with her and doesn't rub many people up the wrong way, so there's just far less of a compelling storyline in trying to beat her (although going forward, with the much weaker post-Rabo team, her quest to stay in her position at the forefront may be an interesting storyline in and of itself), whereas Lizzie is riding for the dominant team at the moment, when she's on form she's almost unstoppable, and she cuts quite an unlikable figure, which any combat sports promoter can tell you is a good way to rally support around the challengers.
As you say, the personalities will eventually fill the void, but for now the void is there.Libertine Seguros said:I do see where you're coming from with Anna VDB and Megan not really having established the kind of character that fans can latch on to just yet, but in time they may. Although she's 31, Megan hasn't been at the absolute forefront of the sport until the last two or three years, and at Boels she's been second fiddle to Lizzie in PR much of the time anyhow; Anna being at Rabo is fairly similar because with Vos they have perhaps the most well-known name in the sport, and also PFP who is both a world class cyclist and a media darling, so despite her prominence within the sport we haven't really had the chance to get to know Anna to the same extent as had she been racing in a team where she was the biggest name. However there are still plenty of people to become characters.
On the opposite side, if my motivation was about finding sympathetic riders, ELB would be the poster child. She's hard for anyone to dislike.Libertine Seguros said:ELB I find sympathetic, I think she can be a good character for the sport, especially if the team is able to keep her and Audrey together as "the twins" have been quite a major part of Wiggle's behind the scenes reportage. Chloe Hosking is nicely outspoken as well. With so many riders moving on from Vos' squad Niewiadoma will likely be more prominent in it, she is likable as a personality and compelling as a rider given that she has both a lopsided skillset and never-say-die attitude. Marta Bastianelli has been rather quiet until the last 18 months or so, but her comeback story is a great compelling storyline and she's still yet to turn 30. She could potentially be a candidate for the win in Doha, and that would be one hell of a redemption story. Blaak is another likable rider, and then there's the riders I like who always seem to be foraging alone for comparatively small teams in the big stage races - Guderzo, Lichtenberg and Moolman-Pasio (who also has a good backstory).
Absolutely. I've had the experience myself that when you're competing at a sport for the sport itself and not for financial gain, repeated retirements and returns are extremely common, as for most humans motivation fluctuates wildly.Libertine Seguros said:And of course, if the last few years are anything to go by, all may not be lost regards the retiring riders anyway. It will depend on what they choose to do; Bronzini and Johansson at least are not planning to leave the sport entirely, are far from over the hill and are still among the best riders in the world, who's to say that they won't feel the temptation to come back? After all, Amber Neben has retired and come back and is still going well at 41, Kristin Armstrong has retired twice and this year we even saw Nicole Brändli return after no fewer than seven years out!
Oh, it's not like I support or like Abbott in any way (well...not any more than the average rider). She simply made the climbing races exciting.Libertine Seguros said:The big question mark will be Mara, I do think that after seeing her blog post after the Olympics she was quite broken, but she's left the sport (albeit on health grounds) before and she's only 30, what's to say that while the pressure of being a full time pro on a major European team (even one that affords her a lot of freedom to pick and choose her racing) is more than she's willing to take, she won't feel the itch to return and right those perceived wrongs a couple of years down the line? I mean, personally I see what you're saying regarding the Giro, but at the same time that extremely selective calendar is frustrating and I didn't find her particularly sympathetic even despite all of her well-documented problems, because she came across as very selfish (only races where she leads) and as she was hard to follow year round because of that I didn't get the same chance to develop an attachment to her as I did with others. Well, and she kept beating Emma Pooley, which made her hard to warm to for the simple fact that she stood between Emma and victory.
The talent seems to be spreading out a bit more, especially from those that are leaving Wiggle and Rabo to various teams.Libertine Seguros said:I'm personally cautiously optimistic, but then maybe that's because I've got used to some of the stories being over (Pooley retiring for example) and while a péloton without Evie or Emma J will be strange to me, I have a few storylines and characters I'm following quite intently that still have years left to run, and because, Doha aside, the season is all but over, feel that the off-season will sort a lot of this uncertainty about the future out as clearly there's much less of the transfer bedlam as in the men's péloton, likely as budgets and race calendars will be fixed much later. But with the introduction of some key sponsors (FDJ taking over the Futuroscope team) and the news that Rabo will continue in some form (albeit massively truncated; I'm kind of hoping they can get some transfers in to pad out the lineup though) as well as the strengthening of some of the second-tier teams like Liv-Plantur and Cervélo hopefully it won't be the same kind of bogarting of the top prizes by the same couple of teams that we've seen in recent years, although others' quest to derail the runaway Boels-Dolmans freight train may become the story in and of itself...
Hosking has been excellent this week. If she can hold her form it's hard to see anyone beating her in Doha.Libertine Seguros said:Following on from Emilia, a very similar field took on the inaugural women's GP Bruno Beghelli, taking on 6 laps of the course over an 80km distance so a pretty short race. The short distance helped stronger sprinters hold on to the pace and meant that it didn't become as selective as we may have thought; the fact the race had the chance to end with a reduced sprint did make it somewhat more useful as a form guide for riders aiming for the Worlds than the hilltop finish at San Luca yesterday as well.
Piecing together what I can from limited information it appears that there were a few attacks on the hill, including two separate moves involving Annemiek van Vleuten, but the only one to get any significant distance was a small group including Jasinska and Lotta Lepistö, the latter somewhat surprisingly - perhaps overestimating the selectivity of the circuit and anticipating the other sprinters would be dropped? Either way, it was a good weekend for Wiggle as, following ELB's win in Emilia, Chloe Hosking laid another marker down in stating why she should be Australia's #1 bullet in the gun for Doha, sprinting to victory ahead of Vos and Barbara Guarischi. There are some unexpected names up there in the sprint - Fahlin for example, even despite her win at Vårgårda, would not normally be Alé's #1 option for a sprint, and also, riding for the Veneto Selection team (as opposed to her regular gig with Astana) the 21yo prospect Arianna Fidanza outsprinted some pretty significant names.
1 Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High 5) AUS 1'59'38
2 Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) NED +st
3 Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM) ITA +st
4 Arianna Fidanza (Sel. Veneto) ITA +st
5 Emilia Fahlin (Alé-Cipollini) SWE +st
6 Rasa Leleivyte (Aromitalia-Vaiano) LTU +st
7 Joëlle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla) CAN +st
8 Katarzyna Pawlowska (Poland National) POL +st
9 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy National) ITA +st
10 Lotte Kopecky (Belgium National) BEL +st
Jonhard said:Anna Christian from Wiggle to Drops. Fair enough really, but that's half the squad gone. Six riders plus Emma J under contract for '17; uncertainty over Cordon, Pieters and Roberts. Surely Rochelle Gilmore has got something up her sleeve... some Aussies maybe.
Rivera has apparently signed for one of the bigger European teams.Libertine Seguros said:A couple of 2017 rosters released today.
First up, our friends Parkhotel Valkenburg, who've entertained us with their breakaway antics for much of the year with their young Dutch team. They've lost two of their most recognizable riders in Jip and Ilona Hoeksma, Lady of Steel, and it's also unclear on whether Janneke Ensing returns or retires, but they have retained much of the team's core, keeping their young guns like Eva Buurman, Pauliena Rooijakkers, Jermaine Post and Chanella Stougje as well as more experienced hands like the veteran Nathalie van Gogh (continuing into her 40s) and the controversial Hanna Solovey, as well as having a prominent CX presence through Sophie de Boer. They've also brought Kyara Stijns across from Liv, and Esther van Veen from Swabo Ladies (the 26-year-old has seemingly been racing part time but good showings have got her a contract with a stronger team) as well as two 18-year-olds in Nina Buysman and Aafke Soet. The latter in particular is a good pickup as she's hotly tipped.
The other team to issue their roster is United Healthcare, who've made some large-scale changes to their roster. In addition to losing Iris Slappendel to retirement they've also cut seven other riders (!) and hired in six more. The highest profile signing is probably Tayler Wiles from Orica, elsewhere they're a mixture of the interesting and confusing. Lauretta Hanson is a nice signing especially in the US circuit; she's been very strong in the crit circuit both in Europe and America, was top 10 of both the TDU and Qatar and is 21 years old, and in Janelle Cole there's also another promising young rider. The selections of Lauren Tucker Hall (37) and Kate Sherwin (43) are a bit harder to fathom, however, when you consider that among those riders they haven't kept on are Coryn Rivera and Linda Villumsen. Rivera is great on the US scene and is a versatile sprinter, while Villumsen is the reigning time trial world champion; they're about UHC's best known riders in fact, so I can't see them not having something lined up. Given her tendency to focus on a small number of events around her TT speciality I can see Villumsen going to the low-contact national contract type scheme, but for Coryn that would be preposterous; I'm sure there's a WT ride about to be announced for her. The only question is where; Fortitude don't have a true sprinter, but they have Vos. Wiggle have huge roster gaps, but they already have a lead sprinter.
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