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The Women's Road Racing Thread 2017

Page 4 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.

Valv.Piti said:
I think its funny how politically correct some reporters/journalists are trying to be when they are including the women's race in a preview of a men's race, even though you easily can tell they are giving a rats *** about it and just want to get it over with so they can talk about the men's racing.

Anyone else noticed that?

I've found previews to be so low in quality (men or women, any of the sports I follow) that I gave up reading any.
Even from authors whose post-race pieces or general articles I very much enjoy, I don't find any previews insightful or interesting.

Again, that's just me.
Longest and toughest RVV yet coming up for the women, 15 obstacles and over 150km. Same run-in as the men, but the length is more reflective of the exceptional status of the race as a major event now. As a result, there's an all-star lineup with the only real top names for the race not in attendance being those who have little choice because of illness or injury (Guarnier, Vos).

Boels as ever are mighty strong given their stacked lineup. They're led by Lizzie, which is only fair given that she's kind of the defending champion. She's had a quiet start to the year, but was 3rd in Strade Bianche so she's hardly lost it - it's just she started last year alternating periods of illness with brutal dominance and stamped her authority all over the early season. The #2 option is likely to be Chantal Blaak, who was 3rd in this race last year, riding the wave of the riders trying to chase Lizzie and Emma J down to take the sprint, which Boels managed several times last year to use to get multiple riders on the podium. Anna van der Breggen missed the top 10 last year but had four in a row before that, so she's a dangerous weapon also. Amalie Dideriksen is in the rainbow jersey, but it's her first Ronde so expectations aren't as high as they sometimes are, while Amy Pieters has settled into a role of break maker and monitor using her strong sprint from that position, and Christine Majerus is one of the toughest helpers out there. Six riders who can all make a key selection makes a formidable team.

Wiggle's lineup is interesting mainly because they seem to be geared up for this one to stay relatively fast and well together. Elisa Longo Borghini is logical option A, bearing in mind her excellent start to the season and the intention of defending the WWT leader's jersey, and indeed with her punchy climbing style and strong TT skills she has won the race before, in 2015 when she escaped solo. That year, Wiggle did a 1-2, with Jolien d'Hoore making the remaining selection and outsprinting them after being fresher from not chasing her teammate (Jolien would have won the sprint of that group most times anyway, mind). That will likely be the modus operandi here as well, as Jolien transitions back to a full-time road calendar. Giorgia Bronzini is a two time former World Champion renowned for her sprinting, but ahead of Rio reinvented herself as a versatile hard-worker for all terrains; her sprint is less than it used to be, although she's always been at her best in longer races with a few obstacles to drop the specialist sprinters, and this race is long and has a few obstacles (probably too many for her to actually win, however I may be wrong). Nettie Edmondson is their third fast woman, having won Pajot Hills. A group of that size is unlikely in de Ronde but she'll give a lot of power on the flats, as will Elisa's twin, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, a popular and monstrously tough helper. Finally, Claudia Lichtenberg, who won't be anywhere in any sprint, but that's part of why she's so great. She was top 10 here last year, foraging alone with Lotto, she's good on the climbs but probably needs some more sustained ones to be able to get away from the opposition and rely on the likes of Elisa breaking up the chase.

The Vos-less WM3 will be a much less visible factor as a result of the leader's absence, and their main hope will seemingly be that the race is really broken up to enable them to use attacking weapons like Anouska Koster and Kasia Niewiadoma. Koster has been racking up top 20s in the Benelux races so far this season and has decent form; Kasia is one of the world's best, but though she's improving in that respect the fact nobody needs to fear her sprint is a problem because with the team not having the same strength in numbers in the chase, the chances of one of her characteristic attacks being pulled back are higher. Nevertheless, the more hills the better for Katie Unknown, and we know from experience that she won't die wondering, so certainly if she has the legs she'll try something. Lauren Kitchen is a useful weapon but failed to finish either Binda or Gent-Wevelgem so unsure about her form.

Sunweb are strong. Very strong. The nominal leader is Ellen van Dijk, which makes sense as she's a former winner of this race (back in 2014) and has podiumed it outside of that too. She was 6th last year while domestiquing for Armitstead and she's one of the most powerful TT engines in the péloton, and has started the season well. Lucinda Brand is their other primary weapon, and she's started the season even better, winning Omloop solo (with van Dijk running interference behind), finishing just off the podium in Strade Bianche and making 3rd in Drenthe. She is tireless, keeps coming back for more punishment, will attack tactically but still have a good sprint at the end, her biggest problem is perhaps being too all-round to specialise in any one area, but for the women more so than the men the Ronde has that mixture of features that means that may be a benefit in this particular event. Then you have the team's North American contingent - Leah Kirchmann, who came over to a permanent base in Europe last season and reinvented herself as a strong all-rounder to sprint from the group in all terrains, before re-reinventing herself as a top level puncheur by the end of the season given her showings in races like Plouay. She's had a quiet start to the year, but it's ok because Coryn Rivera has followed her lead, going from queen of the US crits to an all-terrain reduced-sprint star in the World Tour péloton, winning the Trofeo Binda which was somewhat unexpected. She's a relatively light and small woman for a sprinter which may count against her on the cobbles, but she was in the top 20 last year and if grimpeuses like Lichtenberg and Niewiadoma can make the top 10 here there's no reason Coryn can't - and if she can make the top 10, she'll have a chance to win because not many as quick as her will make it. Rozanne Slik is a good domestique and Floortje Mackaij has been poised to break out for a while, just can't stop getting hurt, which may move her down the hierarchy a bit now the team has strengthened so well.

Canyon's leader, at least nominally, is Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, but she's starting the season quietly as she eases into her new surroundings and tries to recover a bit from an absolute annus horribilis in 2016. However, this was one of her best races of the year last season, making the penultimate selection, looking strong but not strong enough in the chasedown of Lizzie and Emma at the end and scoring a top 10 finish. PFP's perhaps the ultimate victim of her own success, as if she picked a form of cycling and stuck to it she'd be unstoppable, but continued success at all has led her to take on way too much of a workload and the success and expectation hasn't been kind on her. Luckily Canyon have two other real shots at victory, with Lisa Brennauer - a former ITT World Champion with a fast sprint finish and the power to make most selections on very good form with 5th at Dwars and 3rd at Gent-Wevelgem in the last couple of weeks - and Elena Cecchini, the smartest tactical brain in the women's péloton. She's not the strongest sprinter, she's not the most powerful rouleur, she's not the most punchy climber... but she does always have the knack of making the right break, or knowing which is the right move to follow. She hasn't been out of the top 10 once in the World Tour this season. If you want to know the chance of a late move making it to the line, you can judge it based on whether Cecchini has made the group. Elsewhere Canyon have British sprint option Hannah Barnes, Tiffany Cromwell as a further option, the Australian has a long history of strong placements and can get over most terrain, and Trixi Worrack will be on the attack at some point, because Trixi is as Trixi does (and so it is written and so it shall come to pass).

Orica are the only other team with a former winner of the race, in Annemiek van Vleuten who took the win all the way back in 2011. She was in the group behind the lead duo last year too, and everybody knows Annemiek is tough as nails that have been reinforced to make them tougher. She's been all over the front page of the results sheet this year, so we can expect her to be very visible. Orica's main other weapon on paper would likely be Amanda Spratt after her great last couple of seasons, but she's been quiet in Europe this year, with most of her results coming in the Aussie mini-season. Gracie Elvin is perhaps more likely on form, having just missed the top 10 last week and having been 2nd in Dwars door Vlaanderen a couple of weeks ago.

Cervélo are the revelations of the season, having strengthened massively in the off-season to improve their position in the bunch. Lotta Lepistö is becoming increasingly persistent and a sprinter you can't get rid of is a real weapon in a race like this, because they'll always have the chance of a free ride if somebody else on the team wants to attack, nobody will want to tow somebody of Lotta's class to the line, and she just won Dwars AND Gent-Wevelgem and now ranks #1 for the year on CQ! AMP is getting closer to full strength after her injury over the winter, but this isn't a race she's especially fond of, her best result being 10th in 2015. The terrain may suit the punchy Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig though - the 21-year-old podiumed Binda and won the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana and while she's probably a couple of years away from challenging for the win here, she will want to defend the U23 jersey.

Among other teams, Alé perhaps have the most obvious threat, with Marta another of those sprinters who can get over many obstacles that the group will want to be rid of, and Janneke Ensing having been very visible through the season to date. Hosking is their other sprint option, she has better top end speed I think but less likely to get over the obstacles than Marta. Cylance have plenty of potential, but after her win in Le Samyn Sheyla Gutiérrez has been a bit more tightly marked and gone back to her placement sprinting modus operandi (though that has yielded top 10s in her last two races), while Rossella Ratto is always a question mark because of how good she was a few years ago. It really feels like the Estado de México fallout has destroyed her, though whether that's a psychological thing or if there's something physical that just hasn't come out in to the open I don't know - she still shows glimpses of the rider she was, sporadically, so she's always a threat if she's on a good day. For Véloconcept, the team is fairly small since BMS' best riders were all pilfered last year, but Christina Siggaard is promising and was 5th in Pajot Hills so she's no scrub. Olga Z will probably be on the move for BePink, while Sanguineti is a former winner of Brétagne so bumpy rolling-to-punchy terrain is her thing. Hitec aren't as strong as they have been in the past, but the likes of Vita Heine are aggressive racers and Nina Kessler, though unlikely to make an elite selection, is a very useful sprinter from the reduced group so if a small group gets away they could get a very nice result out of her.

For Lares, Thalita de Jong is starting to find her feet in the new surroundings, with a top 10 in Dwars, but the rest of the team is a very strange odds-and-sods collection, and surprised at no van de Ree or Rivat in their selection. Flavia Oliveira is a complete question mark, never any idea what to expect from her. The Lensworld team looks nice and strong but maybe not for a race like this - Guderzo generally needs a more hilly race and although she's been rediscovering herself of late still isn't quite the same woman that won the Worlds in Mendrisio, while Riabchenko similarly is more of a climber and Kaat Hannes, the current Belgian champion, is quick but probably not durable enough for this race in this field. And FDJ have some strong and tough legs for the race with Roxane Knetemann and Shara Gillow.

Other names spread among the teams you'd expect to play minor roles in the race would be Bujak (winner of Plouay last year of course) for BTC, Kopecky in a sprint or Élise Delzenne on the attack for Lotto, the in-form Sierra for Astana, Alice Barnes for Drops who's getting stronger all the time, Rasa Leleivyte for Aromitalia, and any one of Team Druyts (aka Sport Vlaanderen).
Amy Pieters, Elisa Longo Borghini, Annemiek van Vleuten, Ash Moolman-Pasio and Ellen van Dijk the first five on the Kapelmuur...

On the way back towards the last set of climbs, Rozanne Slik solo, with around a minute's lead over Élise Delzenne who's in a chasse-patate with the bunch at 1'40"...

A couple of tentative moves from secondary contenders and the Pottenberg has halved Slik's advantage, but all of those moves have been pulled back. We now have a much more concerted effort however, with Niewiadoma attacking on the Kanarienberg, a major move which is being followed by Longo Borghini, Cecchini, Moolman-Pasio, Deignan and Gutiérrez. Van Dijk, Kopecky, Blaak, (Hannah) Barnes and Anna VDB chasing on. The pace seems to be going out of the attack now the group is getting larger again. Pieters stretches it out, 3 climbs to go and the group numbers around 25.

Brand attacks, pulls Dideriksen with her... which kills the move, Brand doesn't want the company.

Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini on the Kruisberg! This is where Elisa went when she won the race, van den Veen points out on Twitter. Race breaking up massively now. Van Vleuten and Niewiadoma join, and that's now a monstrous quartet with four of the big player teams represented. Sunweb have missed the move though, so will be leant on in the chase!

van Dijk leads a counter with Deignan, Moolman-Pasio, Brennauer and Blaak but the presence of the two Boels riders makes her desist and they're caught again, the lead quartet gaining a bit of a gap now, up to 15"! PFP joins the pacing with van Dijk. Lizzie disrupting the chase I think.

Heading towards the Kwaremont, Anna's stopped collaborating, pointing out Boels have 3 in the group behind, and the gap is tumbling as Sunweb charge on the chase! They're caught on the Kwaremont, but ELB goes again with Kasia on her wheel! Who's chasing? It's ... the same quartet going away as van Vleuten and van der Breggen make the junction! These seem to be the strongest climbers of the day, but the time is running out to make that pay with only the Paterberg to come, and also we don't know if any of the free-riding Wiggle or Boels riders in the group behind have been sandbagging and have an attack in them if needed! ELB leading van der Breggen, slight gap opening before Kasia and Annemiek. van Dijk trying to bridge with Kopecky, Moolman-Pasio and Deignan.

Right, situation coming to the Paterberg:
Group 1 - Longo Borghini, van der Breggen, van Vleuten, Niewiadoma
Group 2 - van Dijk, Deignan, Moolman-Pasio, Kopecky, Elvin, Blaak, Ensing
Group 3 - Ferrand-Prévot, Barnes, Cecchini
Group 4 - Rivera, Pieters

The climbing difference shows, the quartet move further up... now splits in two as per the top of the Kwaremont - Longo Borghini and van der Breggen in front, Niewiadoma and van Vleuten behind. 2 against 2. Looks like this will settle it. You would expect the front two to stay away (Annemiek is a great short time trialist but less good in long form, Niewiadoma is no slouch against the clock, but ELB is very strong and Anna vdB is one of the very best) unless they play games with one another.

Paterberg and the quartet reunites! great effort from Kasia and Annemiek... but Annemiek pays for it and is spat off the back. ELB stringing out the pace but can't get rid of the Dutchwoman or the Pole! Three together over the summit, 45" over the bunch - but no reason for any of them not to work now. ELB has the WWT lead to think about, Anna is the best sprinter in the group (yes, you read that right) and Kasia doesn't have any teammates behind.

Annemiek chases back on on the descent! That woman is a machine! We all love Annemiek! Chase is Deignan, Kopecky, van Dijk, Rivera, Barnes, Pieters, Elvin, Blaak, Ensing. The Canyon girls are dropped. No Wiggle riders there, so both ELB and Niewiadoma are on their own.

10k and the gap is holding, but Annemiek is slightly easing up following her effort to chase back on. Van der Breggen also now stops giving her all, with the strong Boels presence in the group behind. Annemiek contributing again, she only has one in the group behind.

Canyon have got back into the chase with Cecchini and PFP and are working to pull things back, but also for Sunweb Rivera is doing a lot of work for the chance to sprint this out. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig for Cervélo has made the junction too, after not being mentioned all day.

6km remaining, 24", this is going to come right down to the wire!!! The straight run-in could hurt things for the attackers in group 1, because they'll be in visual range...

3,5km, 15"... going to come back together I think. Van der Breggen trying to decide what to do having shirked her turns for the most part in the last few kilometres... Peter van den Veen has spotted Maria Giulia Confalonieri in the chase - like Ludwig not mentioned all day but she has a fast finish... Leleivyte too has managed to hitch a ride on the Canyon chase back into group 2... 3km, 12"... it's the Olympics all over again!

1500m and they're going to be caught. FML. Yep, there's the catch, right at the red kite. Boels now set up a leadout with their not having needed to contribute with Anna up front.


Wow. Now, you have to question a bit whether the depth of péloton increasing means that the courses need to reflect that, given that Binda, Gent-Wevelgem and now Flanders have resulted in reduced group field sprints... but that's a question for future years. And they already did toughen the course up here, I thought it would be too much for Coryn once that quartet were away but I was proven resoundingly wrong. The straight run-in did play a big role in dooming the front group, but those were big names that got pulled back, and Coryn sure as hell earnt herself the right to sprint for that win, and Sunweb knew it was their best chance once they missed the move. If they'd had Brand or van Dijk make that move, it wouldn't even have been close to the catch, but with such a strong team with such a vested interest in the chase, it kept things exciting right to the last.

1 Coryn Rivera (Sunweb)
2 Gracie Elvin (Orica)
3 Chantal Blaak (Boels)
4 Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica)
5 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto)
6 Elena Cecchini (Canyon)
7 Rasa Leleivyte (Aromitalia)
8 Anna van der Breggen (Boels)

And how about Annemiek managing 4th in the sprint after all her heroics in the attack group?
I was glad to see some 15' highlights on Sporza. Is it the first time they show highlights of the women's race or did they do it before? It should have been a great race to watch live but of course so was the men's race. Elisa seemed the best on the climbs and in the end I'm glad that young Lotte Kopecky was in contention in the sprint. :)
Grand Prix de Dottignies

1 D'HOORE Jolien Wiggle High
2 HOSKING Chloe Alé Cipollini
3 ERIC Jelena BTC City Ljubljana
4 SANGUINETI Ilaria Bepink Cogeas
5 DRUYTS Kelly Sport Vlaanderen - Guill D'or
7 GUTIÉRREZ Sheyla Cylance Pro Cycling
8 TREVISI Anna Alé Cipollini
9 CRETTI Claudia Valcar PBM
10 PAVIN Michela Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
The Healthy Ageing Tour (formerly Energiewacht Tour) begins in the Netherlands tomorrow, with 6 stages across 5 days of racing, mainly in the northeastern Dutch province of Groningen, but with the final day on the German offshore island of Borkum, part of the East Frisian group.

As you might expect given the location, this one is flat. Very flat. There's a "prologue" which is in reality the 1st stage (16,9km in length, a not insubstantial distance considering the time gaps likely opened up with the flat stages to come) and a semitappe on the first day, then on Thursday there's a TTT of a little under 20km before three remaining road stages.

For the most part, the Dutch are out in force, as you'd expect, although the absence of the WM3 team is quite surprising. Wiggle are also absent, but WM3 is more surprising since the team is based out of the country. A few other major names missing include Deignan and Ferrand-Prévot, who are resting up, but their teams have most of the rest of the challengers intact, with van der Breggen, Dideriksen and Blaak all in attendance for Boels, and Brennauer, Cromwell and the in-form Barnes are there for Canyon. Sunweb, perhaps the most strengthened team of all this season, are going without Coryn Rivera after her Classics season heroics, and instead pin their hopes on the TT prowess of van Dijk and the all-round skills of Brand, plus the talented youth like Mackaij and Lippert. Cervélo have the in-form Lotta Lepistö but only five starters, nevertheless she'll be hard to shake on these roads. Alé-Cipollini are without either of their primary sprinting options but Janneke Ensing has been going well in Classics season, while the lack of several top teams is compensated by the all-star Dutch national team - 19-year-old talent Maaike Boogaard is rather the odd one out here, alongside Orica's star Annemiek van Vleuten, FDJ's experienced all-rounder Roxane Knetemann and a trio of WM3's younger riders, with Yara Kastelijn and Riejanne Markus joining the national champion Anouska Koster. Koster and Kastelijn were of course teammates of Knetemann last year, while Rox and Annemiek also teamed together at Rabo back in 2014.

With the possibility of waaijer racing and small teams it may not be as one-dimensional as you expect, however the time trial prowess will be a key factor and therefore I expect to see Ellen van Dijk, Annemiek van Vleuten, Anna van der Breggen and Lisa Brennauer among the key protagonists.


Someday It Should Be Bingo Here

(Het Nieuwsblad – Last Monday)

Lotte Kopecky was a very good 5th after American winner Coryn Rivera

After a nice finale Coryn Rivera (24) can call herself the first Non-European winner of the Tour of Flanders for women. The American was the fastest in a sprint of large group, our fellow countrywoman Lotte Kopecky ended at a good 5th place.

Yesterday it long seemed that a royal quartet with Elisa Longo Borghini, Annemiek Van Vleuten, Anna Van der Breggen and Katarzyna Niewiadoma would compete for the win. On the Kruisberg with 26km from the finish line, the quartet accelerated strongly but the gap never increased above the half minute. With the contribution of a strong Team Sunweb duo Lucinda Brand and most of all Ellen Van Dijk a large chase group could come back with less than 2 km to go, among them was Lotte Kopecky.

When we made the junction I decided to take Cecchini’s wheel but she stayed behind and then I started moving up myself. At that moment Rivera was already passing me. I could not make the sprint I had eyed for. I have never felt so good in a finale this season. I’m disappointed but on the other hand: I’m only just 21 and end 5th at the Tour of Flanders. Then I should be glad. I think I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I was always at the front and did not have the feeling that I was less strong than anyone else today. Someday It Should Be Bingo Here

Lotte Kopecky is already looking forward to another objective. Next Friday she is leaving for Hong Kong for the Track Worlds where she will partner Jolien D’Hoore for the Madison, openly ambitioning the world title.

In the approach of the track Worlds I trained on the track last week. It seems that that preparation is not that bad to race a good Tour of Flanders. I had already reconed the Tour’s route much earlier because getting the World title is now so much more important. With the juniors I was already very close, now with Jolien it’s really a goal in itself to get that rainbow jersey. I now end 5th at the Tour but it’s not a reason to focus more insistently on the road. The track remains as important until the Tokyo Olympics.

Kopecky’s track mate Jolien D’Hoore never was in contention for the win yesterday and came 5+’ minutes behind.
I immediately felt that I had no power in the legs. I quickly “turned the nail” [Dutch idiom, I guess] and worked for the team. Certainly because Longo Borghini was really great. Then you shouldn’t doubt. I didn’t want the team to sacrifice themselves for me for a possible 5th place. Now I should try to quickly “turn the nail” with the eyes on the Worlds. With Lotte we should fully target the World Title. Shame that she has just missed the podium. Her performance shows that she’s ready for the Worlds.

D’Hoore even fetched bidons at the team car in the last race hour.

Coryn Rivera : Former Crosser Now Also Wins Classics

Coryn Rivera is a surprise winner and also not again. A few weeks ago she got the Alfredo Binda Trophy. The career of 24 year old American has reached a stream acceleration since she came to Team Sunweb this year. Until last year she only won a few stages in stage races but big wins stay out. In her youth years she seemed to make it as a crosser. She was three time national champion in cross in the youth category but not long after she chose for the road.
Every year I came to race more and more in Europe and last winter the time seemed right to switch to a European team but I hadn’t expected to win top races so soon. I’m living like in a dream

The Laatste Nieuws article will come in the next few days if you are interested but I'm too tired right now. It has interesting info too. ;)
Nice win by Pieters today. Especially after her little... stunt... earlier in the stage. How did she manage to stay upright?
(Was watching without commentating at that point.)

Also... how come Dideriksen is wearing number 1? Shouldn't it be Ellen Van Dijk?
Who did I say would be the main protagonists?

Ellen van Dijk won the ITT ahead of Anna van der Breggen, with Lisa Brennauer in 3rd. Annemiek the Prologue Queen was thrown off by this being called a prologue but being 17km long, and could only manage 5th, with Cervélo's German rider Stephanie Pohl getting into 4th. Another Cervélo German, 20-year-old Lisa Klein, made 6th, ahead of Chantal Blaak, who was the last rider inside a minute, so there's already some significant time gaps opened.

Racing in the Netherlands isn't always as straightforward as the flat profiles makes it look, and indeed the second semitappe was surprisingly selective, ending with Amy Pieters coming to the line solo with a small gap of 5" ahead of the principal selection, which numbered 13. The first point of interest was Barbara Guarischi outsprinting Lotta Lepistö for 2nd. It seems likely to have been some waaijer racing from the selection - 4 Boels (Dideriksen, Anna VDB, Majerus, Pieters), 4 Sunweb (van Dijk, Brand, Soek and Floortje), 3 Canyon (Brennauer, Guarischi, Barnes) and 2 Cervélo (Lepistö, Klein). The biggest GC casualty therefore is Pohl, who also missed the main group at 1' and thus sat up and stayed in the grupetto that lost 8 minutes - perhaps with a view to defending Klein's GC position now given that there's a TTT tomorrow and Cervélo only have five starters.
As promised


(Het Laatste Nieuws 3 April 2017)

Lotte Kopecky surprises with 5th place but …

Until Tokyo All for the Track

In Flanders since the development of female cycling Jolien D’Hoore has gained the status as ‘leading lady’. Fairly but the East-Fleming more and more has to deal with the young snake Lotte Kopecky (21): “I’m making firm steps. That’s true”.

It wouldn’t quickly occur to Gilbert, Van Avermaet or Sagan but Lotte Kopecky prepared for this Tour of Flanders … on the track. That’s the way it is. Next Friday, Lotte Kopecky flies off with Jolien D’Hoore to Hong Kong where the Track Worlds are on the agenda. The duo are openly aiming for gold in the Madison. Also, today, tomorrow and on Wednesday, both are training together at the Eddy Merckx Flemish Cycling Center. Lotte Kopecky does not want to leave anything to chance. “I would really like to get a world title. I’ve never succeeded therein yet.”

All things considered the Tour of Flanders was just an “intermezzo” for Lotte Kopecky. Firm if you are then part of a 15-woman lead group sprinting for the win.
Damn! I had super legs. I digested every climbs without trouble and kept up with the toppers. We kept the quartet in sight that attacked on the Kruisberg (Ellen Van Dijck, Elisa Longo Borghini, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Katarzyna Niewiadoma, ed). After the Paterberg on the long straight roads to Oudenaerde we bridged the gap. At that moment I started to dream a little. In the Ghent-Wevelgem bunch sprint it didn’t prevail because I was in the wind way too soon but here I was better positioned and could wait a little longer. I keep focusing on the track until Tokyo 2020. At that time I’ll still be 24.

Jolien D’Hoore Has a Total Offday

Jolien D’Hoore had expected better of her Tour of Flanders than 61st in a peloton that crossed the line more than 5’ behind winner Rivera, a race in which she was 2nd in 2015. She looked brave at the finish but couldn’t hide her disappointment. “Of course I expected better but quickly noticed that I didn’t have good legs while my teammate Elisa Longo Borghini was perfectly in order. Then you shouldn’t hesitate and play her card. What the reason was? At the moment I’m still in search of an answer. Be that as it may, keep the head up and focus on the track Worlds in Hong-Kong.”

RIVERA Sprints for the Win: Almost Dropped on the Kwaremont

The finale of the 14th edition of the Women’s Tour of Flanders was no food for the hardliners. 19 riders among whom Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) sprinted in Oudenaerde for the win and eventually Coryn Rivera could throw her front wheel as first on the line.

A few kilometers sooner, the 24 year old American was almost dropped.
On the Kwaremont it was very had for me. Anyone who had told me at that moment I would win I would have thought he was crazy. I could just hang up and then my team did everything in order to pave the way for a sprint. That prevailed and I’m happy that I could finish their job off.
[probably not Coryn’s words, sorry]

Rivera had to look for her own way in the sprint and she did it with style. Full of disbelief she crossed the line with both hands on the face.
Winning the Tour of Flanders is a dream. It probably cannot get nicer than this. This is by far the most beautiful win of my career. It feels like a dream
I like Kopecky and D'Hoore going for the Madison in
Hong Kong. With the Madison very likely to be on the
program in Tokyo, it is smart to start getting as much
experience as possible.

I expect that in Tokyo some of the Madison riders will
ride the road race, while others will race the team pursuit
and/or the omnium. And with the omnium now a single day
event it really opens up the possibility for women endurance
riders to win mulitple medals at a single Games, reap the
resulting rewards and secure sports super star status.
I just watched the women's Flanders race.

Why on earth didn't van der Breggen work in the breakaway? 45 second lead with 10k to go and she's the fastest sprinter in the group. They would have stayed away if she'd have helped and there were sprinters from other teams in the chasing pack. Why would you want the group to come back even if you have numbers there? Seemed like she was their best shot at winning.

Only thing I can think of is she felt awful or was cramping or something like that. Anyone heard why they played it like that?

jaylew said:
I just watched the women's Flanders race.

Why on earth didn't van der Breggen work in the breakaway? 45 second lead with 10k to go and she's the fastest sprinter in the group. They would have stayed away if she'd have helped and there were sprinters from other teams in the chasing pack. Why would you want the group to come back even if you have numbers there? Seemed like she was their best shot at winning.

Only thing I can think of is she felt awful or was cramping or something like that. Anyone heard why they played it like that?
Anna was bluffing because Boels had Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters and Lizzie Deignan all in the second group on the road, all of whom have a better finishing kick than anybody in her group. While there were people like Kopecky in the chase group (Rivera at 10k to go was in group 3, chasing back onto the second group) the sheer number of Boels riders meant they could feel confident from that group. And maybe they got a bit complacent because of how they'd dominated such outcomes last season, I don't know.

However, given they had three behind I expected Anna not to co-operate, and indeed she didn't, because everybody else in that group had a reason to work even if Anna was sitting on - Elisa had the overall WWT ranking to think of, Kasia had no teammates in the chasing group so the team's chances were resting entirely on her, and Annemiek only had one teammate behind and had been distanced on the Paterberg so after working so hard to get back into the group she wouldn't sacrifice that work to sit up.

In fact the issue for Boels was that the other three worked together too well, because the catch was made too late for them to be able to use their numbers to make realistic counterattacks. Realistically when you think back through the race, what doomed the breakaway was when Ellen van Dijk was dropped on the Oude Kwaremont, because if she stays with that quartet until Paterberg, even if she's dropped comprehensively then, they've worked together a few more kilometres and the group behind is shorn of one of its most powerful chasing engines, because once Rivera made the chase group, Sunweb had every reason to go all out for her, using van Dijk as the main chaser, because they had nobody up front. If they had had Ellen up front, Floortje and Lucinda don't contribute to the chase earlier in the race and the gap might have held.

Anyway, the good week for Sunweb continues, as in the Healthy Ageing Tour, they managed to defend Ellen's lead - just - in the TTT thanks to a strong 3rd place. Boels were clearly the pick of the bunch, with Dideriksen/Blaak/Majerus/van der Breggen/Pieters a formidable unit putting 30" into anybody else, but the next three teams were separated by just 4 seconds - Cervélo with Lepistö/Klein/Pohl/Dragoo, Sunweb with van Dijk/Brand/Lippert/Mackaij and Canyon with Brennauer/Kröger/Barnes/Cromwell. Cervélo are doing a great job of protecting Klein's GC position from the opening TT but the juggernaut of Boels-Dolmans has a vice-like grip over Team Time Trials at the moment.

Stage 3 was long (155km) and flat, and featured an extremely long breakaway led by Roxane Knetemann (FDJ) and Esra Tromp (Parkhotel Valkenburg). It seemed for a while that the bunch had misjudged it and the two would make it all the way to the line but after 140km of being battered by the wind coming in across the flatlands they couldn't quite make it. We got a frantic battle for the line as the front-line sprinters in the field somehow were caught out and a small gap was opened - after the first 19 riders a 4" time gap has been charged which may wind up being vital. However, most notably major contenders like Dideriksen and Guarischi missed out, while Lepistö made the selection but instead of battling for stage honours led out Klein to defend her GC position, the 20yo managing a very useful 2nd behind her compatriot, Lisa Brennauer, for whom hard-as-nails racing followed by somewhat reduced sprinting has become her forte. Ellen van Dijk was 3rd in the sprint for Sunweb ahead of teammate Mackaij which tells you how much of an unusual finish it was.
Re: Re:

You don't think they should have felt more confident with vdB in a group of 4 over one of their many riders from a decent-sized group? After all you never know how things will play out in a large-ish group. At least once they realized a catch would come so late, vdB should have started working since she'd already been sitting on and was the fastest anyway.

I would think vdB after the race was thinking, "3rd? I could have done better than that!"

In any case, I'm thrilled for Coryn. I've known about her since she was around 13 or 14 as I lived in Socal at the time and there was a lot of buzz around her and even lots of discussion about her on the triathlon forum I frequented at the time.
Re: Re:

jaylew said:
You don't think they should have felt more confident with vdB in a group of 4 over one of their many riders from a decent-sized group? After all you never know how things will play out in a large-ish group. At least once they realized a catch would come so late, vdB should have started working since she'd already been sitting on and was the fastest anyway.

I would think vdB after the race was thinking, "3rd? I could have done better than that!"

In any case, I'm thrilled for Coryn. I've known about her since she was around 13 or 14 as I lived in Socal at the time and there was a lot of buzz around her and even lots of discussion about her on the triathlon forum I frequented at the time.

Think Van Vleuten would have won the sprint if the group of 4 stayed away.
The short lengths of stages (comparatively speaking) does mean that climbs often get flattened out and the route is tougher than it appears in the official profiles, but nevertheless pretty disappointing. I'm hopeful that there will be room for some of the missing teams as only 16 have been named, 16 teams of 6 = 96 riders, usually there's more than that. There's always a couple of major teams that skip the Giro because of the comparatively small size of women's teams and with Thüringen being of importance (that may be a factor for the Canyon team). I wonder if the proximity to La Course means the organizers are wary of presenting anything too mountainous to put people off coming and exhausting themselves before Izoard.

At the same time, even in the ones Vos won there were legit mountain stages like the one to Ceresole Reale and the San Domenico MTF and the first stage to San Fior where Emma Pooley dismantled everybody three climbs out and Kasia Niewiadoma announced her arrival to the world.

The most frustrating thing is that there's already a huge, huge amount of the calendar that's well-suited to short climbs, reduced sprints and punchy riders, and a disappointing lack of real climbing races and decent length time trials that enable the women's bunch to properly separate into specialists (one-dimensional riders tend to be very limited in scope unless, like somebody like Mara Abbott, they are absolutely phenomenal at their one real strength). The Giro was one of the few races that really included the big, soaring mountains that enabled the climbers to say their piece ahead of the likes of Armitstead and co. who are phenomenal in a short climb but historically at least have been unable to maintain that on the longer ascents, and it meant different riders would target it. For example, Emma Johansson was never a fan, and she was one of the more climbing-adept of those all-rounders too, having won the Emakumeen Bira multiple times. And as we've seen, the increasing professionalism in the bunch has led to a much broader field competing and even a historically selective race like the Trofeo Binda has come down to reduced sprints this year as the gap between the best and worst rider in the bunch is greatly reduced. That said, back in 2011-12 the punchy stages in Marche and nearby were very decisive... still I miss a stage like Madonna della Guardia last year, which was fantastic entertainment start to finish.

By contrast, the Emakumeen Bira has almost gone the other way, and decided to go all out with the terrain it has available, deciding that since the UCI is trying to undermine it, it will force itself to be seen as prestigious by being the climber's race par excellence, abandoning the prologue+four road stages approach of recent years in favour of five road stages, but looking promising. The first stage is super-short (only 50km) around Iurreta using very small and inconsequential climbs, but for the Muro de Urumin 12km from the line - an 800m garage ramp averaging over 15%! There's then a stage around Markina-Xemein, which clones the 2015 final stage (which was awesome with Niewiadoma, Johansson and Moolman-Pasio split by two seconds on GC and fighting tooth and nail for it) which in turn borrows from the 2014 Vuelta al País Vasco stages, unfortunately a long flattish circuit has been appended to the route rather than a second loop around so the stage is easier than hoped. The third stage is the 'respite' with a rolling run-in after the Alto de la Deskarga and a descent through Oñati, but with a classic Basque uncategorized bump not far from the line - with the profile but not the planimetry I can't ID the climb (it may be the first 2km of Elosua into Galartza then descending, but it looks too steep for that) that will likely break it up. Then the fourth stage with an MTF at San Miguel de Áralar, albeit from the easier side. Still, it's a 13km climb and ramps of 12% on the way so should break the field up. And on the final day, a circuit around Errenteria that ends with Jaizkibel from Hondarribia and then a frantic descent to the line.