The Women's Road Racing Thread 2020

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So in the end one of the main challengers had to climb off halfway through the stage. Piecing together from reports appear to suggest that Eider Merino abandoned from the front group - she crashed heavily yesterday and from the sounds of things may have overstretched herself trying to make the most of today's stage, her injuries worsened and she was forced to abandon. Mavi García took the win in a two up sprint against Anna Kiesenhofer at the summit after the two of them dropped Lauren Stephens on the final climb; the three of them rode away on the Col de la Machine after Merino, who had been a prime animator on the earlier climbs, was forced from the race. It seems the race will be settled between the three, as the next group on the road was over 4 minutes down, but does include a couple of French hopes, 24yo Victorie Guilman for FDJ, and 41-year-old domestic scene veteran Sandra Levenez, alongside Movistar's Colombian prospect Paula Andrea Patiño and ex-Waowdeals/CCC prospect Yara Kastelijn.
 
Excellent. A happy Cille is a glorious Cille.

I also note that RCS' understanding of the mountain classification has carried over to the Giro Rosa, some of the uncategorised ascents are going to cause carnage. Lots of nice stages, would have liked a proper MTF, but I guess they are a bit concerned that the last two years have petered out a bit with Annemiek opening up huge gaps on the climbs, despite van der Breggen and Moolman-Pasio both challenging her in the final mountain stage suggesting that recovery might be the only place where she has a bit of a blindspot right now. With all of these being sort of middle-sized climbs and the HTFs being short and explosive, I dare say Niewiadoma will be happy as this brings a lot of the key climbing into her range, plus the amount of uncategorised climbing is going to make this a much harder route than the last time they did a southern route, in 2017.

Elisa Longo Borghini will probably also be pretty happy as this will make it harder for her to have her usual punishing jour sans - her best GC was that 2017 route - as she has typically had one day that she's lost minutes upon minutes on.
 
Sadly it seems like Parkhotel's new-found prominence will only be a short one, what with already having lost Wiebes due to a greedy agent contractual disagreements (the disagreement was that Parkhotel thought that Wiebes signing a contract to ride with them meant she would ride with them, Wiebes' agent thought signing a contract to ride with them meant she was free to sign another contract for more money because who cares about the team that has supported and protected your rider to help her get those results, hey?); while they had been able to extend their other revelation, Demi Vollering, and re-arranged their priorities in favour of punchier races as a result, from next year they will be back to the development squad they have always been, as Demi is moving over to SD Worx (i.e. Boels-Dolmans) for the next 2 years.

Realistically this is just the status quo reasserting itself; Parkhotel have traditionally been a development squad and the most promising riders tend to move on from them as they start to emerge, and the fact that Wiebes was such an instant hit and came at the same time as Demi's breakout meant they were far more prominent than they'd ever been before at the front of races. People like Pauliena Rooijakkers came from Parkhotel, and Boels-Dolmans already have a couple of ex-PHV riders in Jip van den Bos and Eva Buurman, so realistically Demi will fit right in. With van der Breggen now confirmed to stick around another year to try to defend her Olympic title and Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak also already confirmed, plus now Vollering confirmed, fears that the team would drop away with the Boels sponsorship dropping would appear unfounded for the time being. Plus Demi makes a very useful succession plan for the hilly classics once Anna eventually does retire and somebody else will finally get the chance to win La Flèche Wallonne...
 
Lucy Van De Haar (nee Garner) has announced her retirement at the age of 25. She was, literally, a poster girl round here a few years ago. Featuring in promotional material in schools and nurseries, trying to inspire girls to take up cycling. Twice World Junior Champion, she never really carried that success through to the pro ranks unfortunately
 
Trophée des Grimpeuses today, and while it may not 'truly' be a grimpeuses race (more a puncheuses), it's still a pretty selective little parcours in southern Belgium, close to the area around Charleville-Mézières that used to hold the Critérium International.

Here's the parcours:



A few teams' second string on show with the Giro coterminous, but a few high profile names not at the Giro are likely to contend here - Lucinda Brand for Trek being the obvious big name. There are a few teams surprisingly banking on a sprint - Rally with Chloe Hosking (though Sara Poidevin is a very good climber), Valcar with Elisa Balsamo, and to a lesser extent Canyon with Alice Barnes although she's a bit more versatile than to be called a sprinter (Hosking and Balsamo are pretty durable but are both decidedly sprint-favouring). Chevalmeire (van Gogh, Ratto, Fournier) and Parkhotel Valkenburg (Koster, Nilsson, Swinkels but surprisingly no Vollering) appear to be covering all eventualities here. And it's always nice to catch sight of the brilliantly-named Loving Potatoes team.
 
Lucy Van De Haar (nee Garner) has announced her retirement at the age of 25. She was, literally, a poster girl round here a few years ago. Featuring in promotional material in schools and nurseries, trying to inspire girls to take up cycling. Twice World Junior Champion, she never really carried that success through to the pro ranks unfortunately
That's a shame, but if I remember she'd had a couple of injuries? She seemed to have found a bit of a niche over at Hitec but I guess this season with everything as it is might have forced a bit of a reappraisal and if she felt she wasn't going to get to the next level and the new generation were going to mean that she missed her time to make that step up, it's fair. A shame though.
 
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Do you know if that's acquiring some of the old Virtu apparatus, or if it signals the death knell for Hitec? Or are they going to acquire Hitec? It'd really suck to lose them but the team has been pulled from pillar to post to stay alive in recent years and obviously their main source of UCI points lately was Lucy Garner-van der Haar who's just retired.

Trophée des Grimpeuses was settled from a 10-woman group. The Belgian Ciclismo Mundial team did a number on the break after placing three riders in it; Rally were the only other team with more than one representative. Ciclismo Mundial is largely a team of cyclocrossers, and it was one of that number that took the win, as Inge van der Heijden, acquired from CCC during their cost-cutting mid-season, won ahead of teammate Yara Kastelijn, and Rally's Kristabel Doebel-Hickok. It's another win for youth - van der Heijden just turned 21 last month and Kastelijn turned 23 a couple of weeks earlier - 7 of the top 10 are 24 or younger, with Doebel-Hickok the oldest. Kata Blanka Vas in 5th, 19 earlier this month, is the youngest of them.
 
Do you know if that's acquiring some of the old Virtu apparatus, or if it signals the death knell for Hitec? Or are they going to acquire Hitec? It'd really suck to lose them but the team has been pulled from pillar to post to stay alive in recent years and obviously their main source of UCI points lately was Lucy Garner-van der Haar who's just retired.
Hard to say, it's still very early days.
However, I'd say there's nothing left of the old Virtu apparatus (on the women's side, at least). Maybe they'll buy some surplus team vehicles from what's left, but that's about it.

As for Hitec, team manager Karl Lima commented on the news with: "This is pleasing"
View: https://twitter.com/Karl_Lima_Hitec/status/1306928141600985093

Whether that means that he's happy there'll be another WWT team with a solid foundation, or that Hitec will merge into this new team, is anyone's guess.
 

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