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The Women's Road Racing Thread 2019

Page 23 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Re:

jmdirt said:
I saw one headline that Liz needs a break/rest and then the next headline she won today's stage!
She's a pro at excuse-making. She was talking about how she'd been hurt in the crashes before yesterday's stage as a means to explain why she might not win. In fairness, though, the needing a break/rest article is probably getting her defence in first about missing the nationals and the Giro Rosa, after she got her fingers burnt in 2016 claiming to have missed the races ill and then having turned out to be provisionally suspended, so she doesn't want people starting to get snide I guess as clearly this time around they will be planned absences. And she will undoubtedly have wanted to peak for this race.

Overall though, there are a few takehomes from the stage.

Trek are major players, though we already rather knew that. They've taken a bit of time to establish their momentum but now looks like they're taking two of the bigger stage races in the WWT back to back. The colours may have changed, but the spirit of the Ardennes a few years ago returned, as Kasia continues to get herself into positions to be worked over 2 on 1 by rival teams. It was Lizzie and Anna van der Breggen in the Ardennes three years ago, and now history is repeating with Longo Borghini - this time it came down to the sprint, but Deignan vs. Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma in a sprint is just no contest even if ELB wasn't her teammate.

I'm going to have to see if the highlights give us more of an idea as to how Lippert lost so much time as she went over the Epynt climb in the second group, around 30 seconds back, but then disappeared from it and lost over two minutes despite that group getting closer. I haven't heard reports of a crash, but it seems unlikely that she'd have lost all that time on the descent, and her form yesterday was such that I can't imagine she lost a full minute and a half on the uncategorized climb even though it was a climb that really ought to have been categorized and would have been in other stages, so an accident or a mechanical with no helpers in sight would seem to be a more likely outcome, with her then having no wheels to follow in the descent. She'd have to be a Mara Abbott-level bad descender to have lost all of that on the descent without falling, and her results in Classics season suggest she's a better bike handler than that.
 
Nice of her to thank Longo Borghini for all her hard work over the last two days too, and not take all the credit for the victory as a validation of her own work </sarcasm>

Obviously Amalie must have done a lot of work on the flat because she was given the combativity prize, which you would have thought from the coverage provided should have gone to Erica Magnaldi hands down, as she was on the front almost every time we saw them. I'm still none the wiser as to what happened to Liane Lippert, either she blew up completely on the uncategorized ascent or something happened. She didn't have any battle scars crossing the line so I think that rules out a crash, but the fact Kirchmann wasn't called upon to protect the young Swabian suggests that they felt a better GC was achievable out of the Canadian at that point so perhaps she did just completely explode, but she looked so effortless in her climbing yesterday that that seems unexpected too. And so I'm wrong, Cavalli will probably get the six points in the WWT U23 standings tomorrow. But Liane will still almost certainly finish ahead of Coryn on GC, so I was probably right there. I did notice that she seemed to be quite badly placed when they were climbing Epynt, she was quite often at the back of the group and though she'd get herself up into a decent position she'd swiftly lose that position again, so perhaps a bit of naïveté or misplaced pacing leading her to overcook it?

It does mean five days, five different leaders, but I think it's most likely Lizzie will be the first rider to defend, unless an accident or something gets in her way; Trek will be able to manage it if Canyon attack Black Mountain, because ELB can mark moves, and riders like van Dijk can help pull if Lizzie gets dropped, and if she doesn't then obviously Lizzie need do nothing. I can't see Kasia making any moves that will stick later on because there aren't any climbs long enough to get a gap on Lizzie - yes Deignan struggled a few times to keep the wheel today, but that was over a 3-4km climb, which has typically been around her threshold (less earlier in her career, more later), whereas in the second half of tomorrow's stage the climbs are not likely to be sufficient to gain sufficient time on Lizzie given that, as we all know, Deignan holds all the cards in a sprint against Kasia and I can't see Niewiadoma successfully gaining any seconds in bonuses, and even if she does she needs multiple seconds as Deignan is ahead on countback.

Great ride by Pieters to move into a GC podium position, albeit thanks mainly to Lippert's falling completely out of contention. Vollering moves up to 4th and Majerus 5th, split by countback, plus the other Lizzie, Banks, moves up into 6th place on the GC which is pretty impressive considering Bigla only started the race with four riders. In fact, Bigla are one of three teams with two riders in the top 10, as Leah Thomas moved into the lower end of it today too. Kirchmann is now Sunweb's best placed rider in 10th, which is probably not how they'd hoped the race would go, especially given they were one of very few teams left with a full complement this morning. WNT have also been going great guns, but they probably didn't expect to win the GC given their climbers are too, well, climber-y to win bonus seconds and scrap for the time in the flat stages, and their flat engines are too, well, rouleusey to hold on on the climbs; Santesteban in 12th is now their best placed rider.
 
Big break with a minute and a half:
Coryn Rivera (Sunweb), Anna Christian (Drops), Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott), Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Romy Kasper (Alé-Cipollini), Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM), Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), Leah Thomas (Bigla), Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv), Eugénie Duval (FDJ) and Janneke Ensing (WNT). Rivera took a couple of points at the first intermediate and is now unbeatable in the metas volantes. With 11 riders in the break, if they make it to the summit of Black Mountain, Kasia is undefeatable as QOM too. Thomas is the best placed rider in the group, 9th overall. Van Dijk is obviously not contributing.

Break split to pieces on Black Mountain. The strongest group was a quartet of Leah Thomas (expected: she's in the GC top 10), Janneke Ensing (expected: she's a very strong climber), Ellen van Dijk (not unexpected: she's a very good all-rounder and hadn't been contributing to the work because of her team leader behind so was freshest) and Hannah Barnes (somewhat unexpected, but after she managed a top 20 on Mount Baldy, less than it would have been a couple of months ago. I've been really impressed with her work over tougher terrain this season, and I'm wondering if Hannah now sees herself as an all-rounder or moving towards being a rider more in Lizzie's mould, albeit perhaps less of a puncheuse than post-2015 Lizzie; she's stopped really working for sprints and has clearly massively improved her climbing. She's no longer seemingly GC relevant here, with the changes to the balance of the parcours, as obviously in 2017 this was more a flat to rolling race when she was up there on the GC, but she's clearly subordinated herself as a domestique here where in the past she'd have peaked). They didn't work together though, and Coryn Rivera (unexpected: she can get over obstacles, but typically on longer climbs has needed to be marshaled, so pacing herself back on against these riders was a bit more surprising) joined them ahead of the summit; the remainder of the breakaway took the points down to the line so I believe this means Kasia has an unassailable lead in the QOM (only 1 point but it doesn't look like Majerus scored any). Grace Brown and Chantal Blaak made contact again on the descent, while Riejanne Markus, the other survivor for CCC-Liv, got stuck in a chasse-patate, trying to make it two days out of two for the Markus sisters in a break (Riejanne tweeted earlier that she and middle sister Femke are racing in the Tour of Britain today, there's a national calendar race back at home that youngest sister Roos is entering the women's race, and Riejanne's boyfriend Jasper Ockeloen is racing the men's race... as is, well into his 40s but still entering national calendar races, the girls' father). Eventually Markus gave up the chase as the pace in the bunch was raised by Trek; van Dijk was still not collaborating and, with Thomas in the break, Trek needed to keep the gap below her one minute deficit.

At 39km from home, the break was neutralized with the second intermediate sprint approaching; Leah Kirchmann won the sprint ahead of Majerus and Deignan. Three key changes come with that. Firstly, Deignan's lead is extended from one second to two, and secondly, Majerus moves up a position in the GC, as she was tied for time with Demi Vollering, with the Parkhotel rider ahead on countback. Finally, Elisa Longo Borghini loses another GC spot - Leah Thomas picked up 3 seconds at the first intermediate sprint, and now Leah Kirchmann has picked up 3 at this one; Thomas was tied for time with Elisa but behind on countback, and Kirchmann was just 2" back on countback.

By my reckoning we are now at:

1 Deignan
2 Niewiadoma +2"
3 Pieters +33"
4 Majerus +49"
5 Vollering +51"
6/7 Banks & Thomas +58" (will go to countback)
8 Jasinska +59"
9 Kirchmann +1'00"
10 Longo Borghini +1'01"

As you can see, the bonus seconds are still very key in the Women's Tour, but they're thankfully not the be all and end all that they have been in the past (2015 and 2018 are most notable, when the GC winner never left the péloton all week; 2014 also saw Vos win despite Ratto being the comfortable winner 'on the road'). I think technically speaking Niewiadoma is the "winner on the road" so it might be another year that the bonuses are decisive in the win, but she did also lose a few seconds at the line that Deignan didn't in another stage so I might be wrong.

Edit: no, Niewiadoma would lead Deignan by 7" in a race with no time bonuses (all gained on the Burton Dassett finish), Deignan was behind the stage 1 split too, I thought she'd made that group. Even though it means just about my favourite rider in the bunch losing out to just about my least favourite rider in the bunch, I have to say that this has been a good balance for the race; at the end of the day the small gaps in the bunch and the sprint bonuses have meant that the reason Lizzie will win this race is because she's more of an all-round rider; it means climbier riders can't just sleepwalk their way through the first half of the race. If they keep this East-West formula going (and unless they're going to start getting funding to put the race in Cumbria or Scotland, I feel they should, at least so long as the regions that put the money up remain the same, I think it would be a much more disappointing outcome running west-east, with the GC more or less settled early - I think had it been reversed and you saw Niewiadoma coming in with the lead only to lose it to Deignan in an intermediate sprint in Suffolk on the final day I'd be much more anti than what we got, where those time gaps serve as the jockeying for position that gave Deignan the time advantage before Niewiadoma tried to drop her in the climbs, only for Lizzie to be just that little bit too strong for her to achieve that) then this is a good way to do the race, although I'd like something a bit more like the Newnham Hill stage in 2018 in the first half so it isn't just "the bunch rides together until all the metas volantes are dispensed with" for the first half of the race - however the early part of the race has served to produce small time gaps to act as the canvas from which the second half of the race can paint its pictures. Anyway, we're looking at the two editions of the Women's Tour I consider as being the best being the two won by my least favourite women's rider. Go figure.

Liane Lippert attacks! God bless her, I was gutted for her yesterday, and hope she can get something out of this race (well, she probably will get something out of it, which is a day in green, and as a result of it more leadership or protected roles in hilly races). Unfortunately for her, along with Lizzie Banks has got onto her coattails, and with her being under a minute down, Trek aren't letting them get anywhere... but the Swabian is persisting, and the duo now have Lotte Becker for company, who had that long breakaway in stage 4. She's strong, the veteran FDJ rider, but I think this is probably not going to be enough riders to hold off the bunch. They only have 10 seconds, and with riders like Kirchmann in position to gain on the GC if they get stage finish bonuses for a top 3, and with Banks threatening both Majerus and Vollering on GC, I doubt they'll be allowed to stay away.

Sounds like we have lots of attacking back and forth but nothing being allowed to stick. Nadia Quagliotto is the latest to chance her arm, or rather her legs, with a move; she is 16 minutes down on the GC so she's being given a bit more rope than most. In fact, she gained almost 30 seconds with 10km to go before the bunch started arranging itself for the sprint of those that remained. Grace Brown counterattacks to try to join her, fresh from her BOTD exploits. However, while she made it to Quagliotto, the bunch had too many people interested in the bunch finish, and so with 4km remaining their gap had been cut to just 12", and it seemed we were back to the good ol' days of the Women's Tour: every day a break, every day a catch with 1-2km to go, every day a sprint. Luckily this year's race hasn't been like that, and we've had two really good stages, but sadly from looking at the parcours I feared this stage would be a damp squib, with the big mountain too far out. I think it might have been more interesting had Kasia had the green jersey because Canyon would have had a vested interest in avoiding a sprint to stop Lizzie from getting past her, but Trek have done a very good job of marshalling the stage, and indeed make the catch at 2km from home to prevent any timegaps allowing significant alterations to the GC.

Amy Pieters won the sprint to cement her place on the podium, with what looks like Coryn Rivera in second, or it might have been Kirchmann. If it WAS Kirchmann, that would be key as she could vault a few places up the GC with it.

Edit:
Confirmed that it was Kirchmann. Roxane Fournier avenged her near defeat on stage 3 by sneaking 3rd ahead of Demi Vollering this time - which means Vollering cannot reclaim her 4th place from Majerus, who finished one spot behind her.

By my reckoning, the final GC is as follows (I will correct this if there are any corrections required when official results come in):

1 Elizabeth Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) GBR
2 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) POL +2"
3 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +23"
4 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) LUX +49"
5 Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) NED +51"
6 Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) CAN +54"
7 Elizabeth Banks (Bigla) GBR +58"
8 Leah Thomas (Bigla) USA +58"
9 Małgorzata Jasińska (Movistar) POL +59"
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) ITA +1'01"

I'm not sure but I think Banks is ahead on countback but it will depend also on where they finished today.
 
So:

2014, top 10 spread was 54" - although Vos won by 30" and after that 31 riders were inside 1'00", 22 of whom between 54" and 58".
2015, top 10 spread was 30", with 40 within 1'00".
2016, when they introduced a tougher route, winning margin was 11", top 10 spread was 53" and 15 were inside 1'00".
2017, Kasia's victory margin was over a minute, but if you factor her out because of the stage 1 miscalculation, you had 19 within a minute of Majerus.
2018, on a return to a flatter parcours, Rivera won by 11", top 10 spread was 34", and 25 were within 1'00".
2019, without a surprise break like 2017, we have both the tightest victory margin (2"), and the second widest spread of the top 10 (1'01") after that outlying 2017 result.

I think we can call this a positive thing for the race overall.
 
To illustrate my thoughts on the positive development I have calculated the history of the Women's Tour GC vs. "on the road" time, i.e. if there were no time bonuses in the race, to show how this year's race is clearly forward progress from a GC point of view. I'm not saying that the presence of time bonuses is a bad thing - and certainly they add intrigue, and are absolutely ingrained especially in respect of the time bonuses for stage wins/2nd/3rd at the line - however the point here is that all too often in the early days of the Women's Tour they were the be all and end all of the GC, whereas in the better editions of the race such as 2016 and 2019, they complement the parcours in producing intrigue in the racing rather than dominate it.

2014 GC
1 Marianne Vos (Rabobank)
2 Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) +30”
3 Rossella Ratto (Estado de Mexico-Faren) +35”
4 Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High 5) +38”
5 Susanna Zorzi (Astana-BePink) +44”
6 Amy Pieters (Netherlands National) +50”
7 Lucy Garner (Great Britain National) +50”
8 Hannah Barnes (United Healthcare) +50”
9 Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) +52”
10 Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico-Faren) +54”

2014 “on-the-road” GC
1 Rossella Ratto (Estadio de Mexico-Faren)
2 Susanna Zorzi (Astana-BePink) +4”
3 Marianne Vos (Rabobank) +6”
4 Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High 5) +6”
5 Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) +6”
6 Lucy Garner (Great Britain National) +6”
7 Amy Pieters (Netherlands National) +6”
8 Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico-Faren) +6”
9 Aude Biannic (Lointek) +6”
10 Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) +6”

Yes, I legitimately did the countback. Garner/Pieters/Cecchini are very, very close. The only stage which was not a bunch sprint was stage 2, when Ratto and Zorzi held off the bunch by a few seconds. Zorzi was behind a split on the line on stage 4, so she lost 4" meaning Ratto would take the GC, with 12 riders at +6" and the remainder of those who were able to remain in the péloton throughout at +10" (6" lost to Ratto/Zorzi, and 4" on the line in stage 4). Johansson's advantage over Bronzini is entirely due to intermediate bonuses, while the American teams look to be adept at working those intermediate bonuses with Hannah Barnes and Lauren Hall getting into the top 10 on the strength of them. The "actual" GC spread of the top 10 is therefore 800% larger than the "on the road" GC, for a total difference of 48 seconds.

2015 GC
1 Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)
2 Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle-High 5) +6”
3 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +7”
4 Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) +13”
5 Hannah Barnes (United Healthcare) +14”
6 Simona Frapporti (Alé-Cipollini) +26”
7 Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) +29”
8 Alexis Ryan (United Healthcare) +30”
9 Pascale Jeuland (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope ’86) +30”
10 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Alé-Cipollini) +30”

2015 “on the road” GC
1 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
2 Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) +2”
3 Emma Johansson (Orica-GreenEdge) +2”
4 Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle-High 5) +2”
5 Hannah Barnes (United Healthcare) +2”
6 Alexis Ryan (United Healthcare) +5”
7 Pascale Jeuland (Poitou Charentes-Futuroscope ’86) +5”
8 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Alé-Cipollini) +5”
9 Roxane Knetemann (Rabobank) +5”
10 Susanna Zorzi (Lotto-Belisol) +5”

The tightest spread of the top 10 to date in the Women's Tour, 2015's race was also won from the péloton. There were no breaks that stuck, and Majerus' victory "on the road" was the product of an attack in the final kilometre of the slightly uphill finish of stage 3 that opened up a couple of small gaps at the line. Six riders made it to the line at +2" from Majerus before a second gap, but Guarischi and Garner lost time at the line in stage 4. Everyone from Ryan down got their position from the péloton. First and second on GC change due to time bonuses, while Johansson loses a podium, and Frapporti and Kirchmann's top 10s are entirely built around them (whereas Kirchmann lost out on a top 10 for the same reason in 2014). The 'actual' GC spread is therefore 500% larger and a total difference of 25 seconds

2016 GC
1 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) +11”
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) +13”
4 Marianne Vos (Rabobank) +18”
5 Amanda Spratt (Orica-Green Edge) +20”
6 Leah Kirchmann (Team Liv-Plantur) +40”
7 Amy Pieters (Wiggle-High 5) +43”
8 Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High 5) +49”
9 Gracie Elvin (Orica-Green Edge) +50”
10 Floortje Mackaij (Team Liv-Plantur) +53”

2016 “on the road” GC
1 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans)
2 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5)
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla)
4 Amanda Spratt (Orica-Green Edge) +3”
5 Marianne Vos (Rabobank) +36"
6 Leah Kirchmann (Team Liv-Plantur) +36”
7 Amy Pieters (Wiggle-High 5) +36”
8 Floortje Mackaij (Team Liv-Plantur) +36”
9 Emma Johansson (Orica-Green Edge) +36”
10 Dani King (Wiggle-High 5) +36”

The main difference maker here is stage 3, around Chesterfield, which was the most selective Women's Tour to date. The steep climb in the town of Matlock proved decisive, with Moolman-Pasio attacking and setting up the quartet which formed the top 4 in the "on the road" GC. Mackaij loses a couple of positions due to bonuses, while Elvin moves into the top 10 with them. ELB is ahead of Moolman-Pasio on the "on the road" GC due to countback, so Ash is 2nd on bonuses, and Vos overturns 35" of difference through time bonuses on Spratt, but for the first time, the winner "on the road" and the genuine GC winner are the same individual. We also, by virtue of the more selective stages (stage 4 also saw only 17 riders make it on no time loss, so once you get past the top 20 on GC the timeloss is well over 2 minutes), see the impact of the bonus seconds being much less, and much more of the race being settled on the road; the actual GC spread is 47% larger and a total difference of 17 seconds.

2017 GC
1 Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3)
2 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +1’18”
3 Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) +1’30”
4 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) +1’36”
5 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +1’39”
6 Alice Barnes (Drops) +1’47”
7 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) +1’53”
8 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) +1’59”
9 Dani King (Cylance) +2’00”
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) +2’01”

2017 “on the road” GC
1 Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3)
2 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +1’31”
3 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) +1’35”
4 Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) +1’37”
5 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +1’37”
6 Alice Barnes (Drops) +1’42”
7 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) +1’42”
8 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) +1’48”
9 Dani King (Cylance) +1’49”
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) +1’50”

2017 is a bit of an outlier, as you know, because of the gap that was afforded to Niewiadoma on stage 1. That stage featured the same drag of a finish that Majerus had made her time gap on in 2015, so there were some differences at the line - 17 riders at +1'42", with 2 at +1'49, and 31 more at +1'50". Stage 2 was also pretty decisive, with only 10 riders arriving at the same time as the winner, Amy Pieters; further groups were at +6", +10" and +15". This was much more fun to calculate, much less countback and more actual time gaps. A breakaway also took stage 4, although Roy who won the stage was GC-irrelevant, a few riders gained some meaningful time there. Very interesting how little the GC is impacted by bonus seconds here - apart from Kirchmann being displaced on the podium by Hannah Barnes, the top 10 is otherwise unchanged. The actual GC spread is 10% larger and a total difference of 11 seconds, the lowest of all.

2018 GC
1 Coryn Rivera (Sunweb)
2 Marianne Vos (Waowdeals) +11”
3 Dani Rowe (Waowdeals) +25”
4 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +27”
5 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) +28”
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) +32”
7 Eugenia Bujak-Alickun (BTC City-Ljubljana) +33”
8 Eva Buurman (Trek-Drops) +34”
9 Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Canyon-SRAM) +34”
10 Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals) +34”

2018 “on the road” GC
1 Marianne Vos (Waowdeals)
2 Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) +st
3 Eugenia Bujak-Alickun (BTC City-Ljubljana) +2”
4 Eva Buurman (Trek-Drops) +2”
5 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) +2”
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High 5) +2”
7 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +2”
8 Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Canyon-SRAM) +2”
9 Dani Rowe (Waowdeals) +2”
10 Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals) +2”

Two steps forward, one step back; after two much more selective races (admittedly 2017's aggressive racing was necessitated by the stage 1 miscalculation, but the Stoke-on-Trent stage was strong and meant that there were notable gaps in position other than just Kasia's advantage), 2018's was, in terms of time spread, the most bonus-affected yet. As you can see, just 2" separates 1st and 10th - the differences are produced by the sprint in stage 3, where six riders finished in front of a small time gap. The most important stage was stage 2 where the small Newnham Hill climb (1,2km @ 5%) was close enough to the finish to try something, but in the end 17 riders arrived on +st and only a few seconds ahead of another group of the same size. Marianne Vos and Coryn Rivera were the only riders to make it in front of both splits, so they are 1 and 2 on the 'on the road' GC, with Vos ahead on countback, in contrast to the real GC where Rivera held a comfortable GC lead thanks to time bonuses. The rest of the GC is settled by countback, as you can see the main benefactors are Dani Rowe and Christine Majerus, who gain several positions, and the main riders who lose out are Eugenia Bujak, who loses a podium, and Eva Buurman who loses four positions. Perhaps connected to that is the fact that those two riders are on the smallest teams among those in the top 10s of either the real or the assumed classification. With no attacks surviving, and the only difference very limited, we have an actual GC spread which is 1600% larger and amounting to 32 seconds

2019 GC
1 Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo)
2 Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) +2”
3 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) +23”
4 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +49”
5 Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) +51”
6 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) +54”
7 Lizzie Banks (Bigla) +58”
8 Leah Thomas (Bigla) +58”
9 Malgorzata Jasinska (Movistar) +59”
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +1’01”

2019 “on the road” GC
1 Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)
2 Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) +7”
3 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) +24”
4 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) +33”
5 Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) +37”
6 Lizzie Banks (Bigla) +40”
7 Malgorzata Jasinska (Movistar) +41”
8 Leah Thomas (Bigla) +43”
9 Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) +45”
10 Marta Cavalli (Valcar-Cylance) +45”

And so on to this year's race. As you can see, it's the fourth time out of six that the winner 'on the road' has not taken the GC, but we have both in the real and assumed GCs the second biggest spread after the anomalous 2017 results. Time gaps on the line in all three sprint stages in the first half of the race, plus two genuine selective stages that shook up the GC, mean we had both one of the most competitive, most (racing-wise) interesting and most spread out races. And also, though this may be somewhat artificially affected by Vos crashing out after having accrued quite a few of them, one of the least affected by the bonus seconds as, other than Deignan inheriting the win (with a 9" turnaround due to bonuses, nothing compared to 2014 or 2018), only Kirchmann's final day bonus second grabbing, after Rivera's and Lippert's GCs failed, causes notable differences between the actual and non-time-adjusted GCs. The spread is 36% larger and the gap in absolute time terms is 16" difference, the second smallest.

Overall, therefore, 2017 is the race which has been least affected by bonus seconds, with it amounting to a 10% time adjustment only across the GC top 10, and considering the 10" win bonus that Niewiadoma will have acquired for her stage win too, that suggests that there was little difference that would have been made over the course of the race by the time gaps, at least relative to Kasia, who didn't exactly go hell for leather picking up bonus seconds, partly as she already had a healthy lead and partly because she isn't much of a sprinter. Taking her out of the equation a 19" spread over the 'real' time gaps between places 2 to 10 becomes a 43" spread on the actual GC, which is more than 100%. Therefore I think 2017 is an outlier, and 2016 and 2019 are the best comparison points. We must also consider the differences between the highly selective 2016 Chesterfield stage and the much less selective 2017 stage around the same city, due to pacing issues with the 2016 stage arriving from the hilly west, and the 2017 stage using that terrain early in the stage but then finishing with the flatter east of the city.

With 2017 taken out of the equation, 2019 is the edition which sees the closest correlation between the actual GC and the situation on the road, which suggests that the route was selective enough to produce racing which was not heavily altered by the bonus seconds, or rather that, while the bonuses may have determined the actual winner of the race, they did not unduly change the race dynamics; the time bonuses did not negate the situation on the road, nor did they negate the time gaps created by the parcours as they had in 2014 and 2015; Lizzie did not win by strategically gathering bonus seconds; she won by being one of the strongest on the HTF, and by fighting very hard to not get dropped when it looked a couple of times like she might be after Niewiadoma counterattacked on the penultimate day; Lizzie had to be one of the strongest riders, and considering Lippert lost so much time in Wales, I think we can safely state that Lizzie and Kasia were the two strongest riders in the race, and Lizzie's tactical ability and greater all-round strength in terms of being able to access those bonuses that Kasia could not were the difference-maker.

The crowds in Burton Dassett were pretty good, especially considering the weather. Hopefully this can encourage more HTFs and stages with more significant obstacles, or pacing the stages better if places like Stoke on Trent and Chesterfield come back on to the race route. Although the fact that the GC has been settled by bonus seconds on 3/5 occasions prior to this week's race has been one of the things I have criticised about the Women's Tour, in terms of the ability to win it from the péloton, I don't actually feel bad or despondent about it becoming 4/6, because I don't really feel aggrieved that Deignan won it on time bonuses, because of what I stated above. Interestingly, it is the editions like 2016 and 2019 that have been best received generally among the fanbase (I'll have to wait for a few more rider reviews once the dust has settled, but I remember Deignan and Johansson both reviewing 2016 positively, especially after the latter was so scathing of the 2014 and 2015 routes). The selling of the race as one of the focal points of the calendar may have rung true from the perspective that the strong organization and the huge crowds made it a highlight of the calendar as an experience for the riders, but at first it was very much a truism that as a race the trumping itself up as one of the biggest races of the year rang a bit false at first, with sprints dominating, and I felt like the race was headed in the right direction, only for 2018 to be something of a regression, too easily controlled and too affected by bonus seconds (which my analysis above proves, with the GC being the most artificial of all editions thus far, with significant jumps up and down in position), so this year's race was a real leap forwards, back towards where the race should be.

The additional racing day was a bit of a washout; the Kent Cyclopark stage was pretty uneventful and didn't add anything to the race and with the lack of action the highlights took the form of an extended infomercial for the facility; however being a closed circuit means it probably didn't add too much to the organisational costs and extended the racing by a day, and is probably therefore a good way to phase the additional stage in. Hopefully this results in a sixth full road stage next year, or at least a more selective circuit race if they're going to go with something like that, which has some more undulating terrain or is at least wide enough that a team can't roadblock the front when they hit the tempo. Alternatively, an ITT would be nice from a fan's perspective; I noticed that Karl Lima, the Hitec boss, pointed out that although they'd be over a smaller area, this would increase costs to organizers (closing off and policing a whole area for the duration rather than rolling roadblocks) and teams (having to take the TT bikes and gear too) which may have been a factor, so unless they could get, say, a motor racing venue like Silverstone or Donington Park to host the TT, a bit like the Miller Motorsports Park TTT in the Tour of Utah a few years ago, this would probably not be an easy way to extend the event.
 
Just read that it appears the women are not just getting a Clasica San Sebastian but a good route that is similar to the men's route. It sounds like the organizers are committed to making this work.
 
Re:

Koronin said:
Just read that it appears the women are not just getting a Clasica San Sebastian but a good route that is similar to the men's route. It sounds like the organizers are committed to making this work.
Yes, this looks great! We have Jaizkibel, Arkale and two times up the final ascent, and it's almost 150km long - a real, genuine, proper tough Classic.

Ironically on the same day as RideLondon, which admirably offers a big prize pot and is in the Women's World Tour, but is a short circuit race in central London on the same day as the average Joes can go and do the proper course. I don't think there will be much crossover of field, though, as with RideLondon being very much a sprinter's race and San Sebastián being very much NOT a sprinter's race, the only issue will be for teams that don't have enough riders to offer a full team to both. Valcar, for example, would be best advised to go to London, for Elisa Balsamo, while Bigla will probably have more joy with Cille, Banks and Thomas in San Sebastián.

Speaking of Balsamo, the latest round of Balsamo vs. Wiebes in the battle of the young star sprinters took place on Sunday in the Lotto Cycling Cup, with the SPAR Flanders Diamond Tour, around the town of Nijlen in the north of Belgium. Wiebes has, of course, been smashing everybody to all parts in the sprints this season, amassing 8 victories for the season, half of which have been at the World Tour level (albeit at Chongming Island, against a lesser field than she faced when she podiumed De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem). Wiebes beat her slightly older adversary (Balsamo is 21, Wiebes 20) quite comprehensively in the EPZ Omloop van Borsele, but while she was away in China, Balsamo took the Trofee Maarten Wynants in the Lotto Cycling Cup, and then took a stage of the Tour of California to open her WWT account too. Balsamo was also top 10, albeit lower down, in the two field sprints that Wiebes podiumed in the WWT - though Balsamo is a bit more versatile, also managing 10th in the Amstel Gold Race. Last week, at Dwars door de Westhoek, she got one over on her Dutch adversary, winning the sprint to lay a marker down, so there was some interest in this nascent rivalry brewing.

Despite the best efforts of Eugenia Bujak, one of the stronger riders in the field - remember, she has also won WWT races, Plouay a couple of years ago - with a late solo attack, the sprinters were not to be denied; this time, Wiebes took it. But it was close. REALLY close. So close that Balsamo and Valcar demanded to have a look at the photo to see how close it had been as Wiebes celebrated and nearly lost it to the Italian's bike throw at the line. But the Dutchwoman was not to be denied, and Parkhotel's year of glory continues apace. Lotte Kopecky rounded out the podium, in what is becoming a familiar feeling for the young Belgian - it is her sixth third placed finish of the season, four of which in races won by Lorena Wiebes (one with Balsamo 2nd, one with Lisa Klein and two with Jutatip Maneephan between them) and the other two of which with Wiebes 2nd (de Panne won by Wild and de Westhoek by Balsamo).

 
Re: Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
Koronin said:
Just read that it appears the women are not just getting a Clasica San Sebastian but a good route that is similar to the men's route. It sounds like the organizers are committed to making this work.
Yes, this looks great! We have Jaizkibel, Arkale and two times up the final ascent, and it's almost 150km long - a real, genuine, proper tough Classic.

Ironically on the same day as RideLondon, which admirably offers a big prize pot and is in the Women's World Tour, but is a short circuit race in central London on the same day as the average Joes can go and do the proper course. I don't think there will be much crossover of field, though, as with RideLondon being very much a sprinter's race and San Sebastián being very much NOT a sprinter's race, the only issue will be for teams that don't have enough riders to offer a full team to both. Valcar, for example, would be best advised to go to London, for Elisa Balsamo, while Bigla will probably have more joy with Cille, Banks and Thomas in San Sebastián.

Having those two on the same day isn't ideal, but they are totally different types of races. I'm impressive with what Classica San Sebastian is putting together as it looks like a real hilly classics race. Unlike the Ardennes with the ASO they might get some TV coverage (just not over here, but we don't get the men's race either).
 
Re:

Zinoviev Letter said:
It seems that Voxwomen and Trek will be providing a daily highlights show for the Giro. Does anyone know how much of it will actually be race footage?
In fairness, this isn't all that different from what we got last year; PMG Sport did an hour long highlights show which for the most part showed the last 50 minutes as-live in flat stages with more genuine highlights coverage in the mountain stages. The difference with Voxwomen/Trek is that it will be in English - PMG produced coverage in Italian which Eurosport International then took and broadcast on a 24hr delay with Declan Quigley commentating. If anything, I'd be wary that we may actually get less on-bike coverage if they go all out on the companion parts of the show (interviews, featurettes and so on). So long as they are able to provide coverage with objectivity (bearing in mind Trek of course sponsor a team which is led by the most prominent English-speaking rider in the current bunch, and the best Italian stage racer of the current time, so I am wary of potential bias either in coverage or in terms of the race footage being supplemented by interviews and featurettes which are heavily dominated by the Trek team) then hopefully it works well.
 
That was a comparatively strong startlist too, when contrasted to the men's race.

Some worse news now, and that's that according to Danish TV2, Team Virtu is going to fold at the end of the season, due to a lack of sponsorship commitments, a perennial problem that Bjarne Riis has had for the last decade. It seems that even getting a number of high profile wins - including the Ronde van Vlaanderen - was not enough to bring somebody on board; not sure as to the reason here, what the attachment level required was (or what Bjarne's asking price was in terms of what his goals were, continuing the team at the same level or growing it) or if they were only looking for long-term commitments or what, but if they are able to keep the team going it's likely to be at a lower level than it currently is, which will likely put some big names - some of whom with some serious WWT points too - into the market for next year.
 
Yeah, that's a bummer. Can't help but fearing it's because some people are more interested in a men's team - even if it's just conti - than a women's team.
I mean, based on results and level they should keep the women's team, and ditch the men's team.
 
Some other somewhat disappointing news (amid some pretty good news): some drip-drip details of the WWT 2020 calendar have been released, and a couple of current WWT races are not on it. The two notable absences are the RideLondon Classique, which is dropped because of the calendar clash with the Tour of Norway as the calendar adapts to an Olympic year, and the Emakumeen Bira, for which little explanation has been given, although the calendar clash with the Tour of California is a likely culprit as UCI mention that they want to make it as easy as possible for teams to compete in all events if they so wish. Bira has had to jump around the calendar repeatedly and had finally seemed to have got itself ingrained at the top table, a key point for the oldest continuous women's stage race on the calendar, which had been really run over roughshod by the implementation of the WWT, so I'm a bit worried, especially as it was one of very few real hilly to mountainous stage races that the women have available, and it was already compliant with the UCI's new broadcast rules for the women's game that had caused such controversy (there's also a months' gap between California and Britain). I don't really mourn the loss of RideLondon, which with the prize pot it offers will probably still draw a pretty good field, but I've had a lot to say about the fact the women ride around a London park for two hours to allow the average Joes and Janes to ride the real course (the fact that women get to ride a harder course by retiring and entering the sportive is a sticking point) while the men do the proper race a day later, and let's face it, 45 minutes of coverage of RideLondon isn't going to be as clamoured for as 45 minutes of, say, Binda, or Strade Bianche, or San Sebastián, or Flèche Wallonne.

Speaking of which: both ASO-organized Ardennes classics are on the provisional list, which UCI say contains only those races which had "approved" the new criteria. So either that means ASO are leading the UCI down the garden path, or they have changed their stance, which would be a welcome surprise.

In place of these two races comes the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, to give a WWT focus to the Australian mini-season that, at the moment, gets very little attention outside of that part of the world, and those international names that do go to Australia to compete often do so as guests or on under-sized teams.

Elsewhere, it's been ITT time. In Minsk, Marlen Reusser was perhaps a surprise victor, but the Swiss medic launched a blistering ride which took the victory with some authority, demoting Chantal Blaak to silver and with TT specialist Hayley Simmonds sneaking ahead of her compatriot Alice Barnes for bronze on the split seconds (and both Britons just one second ahead of home favourite Alena Amialiusik). It is maybe slightly hollow, though - it would be very interesting to see how Marlen would have fared against a real world class lineup; last year Chantal Blaak was 5th in the Dutch national ITT, at a similar level of deficit to the one she had from Reusser, behind a very close four way battle between van der Breggen, van Vleuten, Brand and van Dijk. And the quartet were too busy to race in Minsk, fighting in Ede - very close to Annemiek's hometown in fact - for the Dutch national jersey.

Which we aren't likely to see for a few months anyway, since not even home road advantage can explain on its own the level of domination that Annemiek van Vleuten displayed here; sure home field advantage may have played a part, but the rest of her ride can be put down to the simple fact that Annemiek is awesome. She rode over 90 seconds into second placed van Dijk, with van der Breggen narrowly squeezing past Brand at nearly 2 minutes down.
 
So apparently the story with the Emakumeen Bira is that the regional government and ETB are trying to push them to make the race coterminous with the Euskal Herriko Itzulia, which they are pushing against because the proximity to the Ronde van Vlaanderen would really hurt the field (as well as trample on the Vuelta a Burgos, which has a post-Ardennes spot in the calendar which means it leads nicely into the Emakumeen Bira, and is trying to grow), plus if there ever was to be a women's Paris-Roubaix, which of course there is periodically clamour for, though ASO are not exactly being especially supportive of women's cycling right now compared to a few years ago because reasons, then of course sitting between de Ronde and Roubaix would be a terrible spot - sure, it's not a problem for the Itzulia because of the significantly different focus between climbers and Northern Classics men in men's cycling, but the women's Ronde features a lot of strong climbers in its ranks, with van Vleuten, van der Breggen, and Longo Borghini all having won it, and the likes of Cille having made the podium, while others like Moolman-Pasio and Niewiadoma have scored big results in Flanders too. There's also a sense of feeling that the women's race was originally created as a female counterpart to the Euskal Bizikleta, a men's race which has been dead for over a decade after merging with the Itzulia, has long established itself as a standalone event, until being forced to sing and dance for its life by the UCI when the WWT was created; it had recreated itself in its new slot, and felt it would be better served going it alone than being forced into an uneasy marriage with the men's race.
 

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