No rest for the racing though. The women don't have a Hell of the North, unfortunately, and the grimpeuses will take time out until Amstel Gold for the most part. But the rouleuses are going to be out in force, because we have the Healthy Ageing Tour, a 5-day/6-stage battle through the northern Netherlands, beginning tomorrow. And it can be pretty hellish in its own right, despite being pan flat and all that - it's as pure Dutch racing as it gets, and that means street furniture (a lot of street furniture), serious fast pace, sprints and waaijers (a lot of waaijers). This, under its former guise of the Energiewacht Tour, was the race which Ina-Yoko Teutenberg once reminisced about driving a teammate of hers, who had been deriding it as easy due to being completely flat, to tears with the strong winds and fast pace. Last year, helped by a sizable TTT, Boels-Dolmans locked out the podium, with Amy Pieters winning the race ahead of Chantal Blaak and Christine Majerus.
This year, they're out for blood again, with Pieters, van der Breggen, Majerus, d'Hoore, van den Bos (who thankfully wasn't injured at de Ronde, she looked in a baaaad way sprawled out in the roundabout unmoving) and Schneider a team which is more than capable of locking out the podium again. Chief among their antagonists will be Trek, whose nominal leader will be Ellen van Dijk, a three time winner of this race, with Worrack, Lepistö and Paternoster among her team. WNT are also going all out at this race, with Kirsten Wild and Lisa Brennauer both in attendance, the latter of whom is also a former GC winner here, in 2015, perhaps influenced by the fact that neither are likely to be a factor in Ardennes week - though the team's best climber, Ane Santesteban, is here too. Lea Lin Teutenberg is here too, trying to follow in her mother's footsteps - Ina won in 2012. Canyon-SRAM and Virtu are both strong teams but missing key names - Canyon suffered a few injuries at de Ronde and don't consider the race to suit Niewiadoma for, well, obvious reasons (although she did win the Ronde van Gelderland in her Rabobank days!) so have gone with a team made primarily of their younger names, with Alice Barnes and Lisa Klein (who had a pretty good race at de Ronde, being prominent until quite late on and being in the first group in behind the Bertizzolo/van Dijk/Blaak/Niewiadoma quartet) the nominal leaders; Virtu rest Bertizzolo and Bastianelli and instead will rely on Anouska Koster's local knowledge and Barbara Guarischi's sprint skills. Parkhotel Valkenburg may be surprisingly strong too, with youth phenom Lorena Wiebes in the sprints and Ann-Sophie Duyck's skill against the clock. The rest of the startlist is a mixture of smaller Dutch teams including the occasional established name (the oft-controversial through no fault of her own Nathalie van Gogh, for example, with Biehler), Hitec Products, and national teams with a few established riders (Susanne Andersen and Stine Borgli for Norway, Nicole Steigenga, Maaike Boogaard, Karlijn Swinkels and Julia Soek for the Netherlands, Romy Kasper for Germany, Kaat Hannes and Saartje Vandenbroucke for Belgium).
As if by magic, hard racing and echelons means that on stage 1, we've trimmed the likely winners down to 14, with that small-sized group making it to the line over four minutes up on the bunch. Lotta Lepistö was the strongest in said group, even ahead of echelon queen Kirsten Wild, though unsurprisingly the WNT sprinter did successfully make the group. Boels had three riders in the group - Majerus (perhaps unsurprisingly, she's probably the most all-round rider they have in terms of which races she features in), Amy Pieters and Jolien d'Hoore, while Canyon had 2 (Klein and Alice Barnes) as did Virtu (Guarischi and Koster) and Trek (Lepistö and van Dijk), as well as, most remarkably, the very young British development team, with Jessica Roberts (who turned 20 today) and Rhona Callander (who isn't 20 until June) their two representatives. The other three riders in the group were Wild, Lorena Wiebes and Nathalie van Gogh.
Virtu's super season start continued with German rouleuse Mieke Kröger taking her first pro level road win since 2016's nationals, with an advantage of 13" over compatriot Romy Kasper, moonlighting in the national team. Lepistö defended her leader's jersey by being among the sprint to the line, though Jolien d'Hoore took a few seconds back from her by taking the bonuses at the line. d'Hoore, Wiebes, Klein, Lepistö and Wild gained a couple of seconds at the line from their fellow breakmates from the previous day's stage, while further splits at the line meant Roberts and Barnes dropped 10" to them.
I've just re-read sir fly's post, and if you didn't know how to read it, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were suggesting that Cille would be motivated by "the number and profile of her followers" "on this board", i.e. that she would read this board and see the likes of me and RedheadDane praising her, and think "if people of that repute are supporting me, I MUST be great!" like our board kudos makes a difference
Oh, and just so I can be smug, here's my RVV preview from 2017 where I described Cille as being "probably a couple of years away from challenging for the win here".
Not that it really took a fortune teller after her July-September stint in 2016.
The thinning-out process of who can win the race continued with a group of 19 surviving stage 3 - a few of those who made the stage 1 breakaway missed the move and so drop out of contention, coming in in the group a minute and a half down - Anouska Koster, Nathalie van Gogh and Jessica Roberts therefore fall out of the contention. From the group that did make it to the finish together, Wild was, helpfully for her, not isolated this time, with Brennauer helping her in the group, which is a key helper to have with her time trial prowess managing escapees. This was instrumental in her righting the perceived wrong of stage 1 and taking the victory, besting Guarischi and Lepistö, though the Finn did enough to defend her race leader's jersey.
Elsewhere, though, it's a day for returns; Lizzie Deignan is back for Trek, returning from her baby break for the Ardennes and, assuming she hasn't lost a step, once she shakes off the ring rust she'll be ready to be a large part of the team's plans going forward. But it's not just her - after iliac artery surgery, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot returned to training also.
The Healthy Ageing Tour ended with two more days' action; first a split stage and then a final road day. On the split stage, you had an ITT which was won by Ellen van Dijk, but her winning margin of two seconds over Canyon's Lisa Klein was not sufficient to wrestle the race lead, which instead fell to the young German by virtue of her time bonuses accrued. Klein's skillset is such that she is basically Brennauer Jr. - a chrono specialist with a strong sprint and the ability to get over smaller obstacles - while van der Breggen finishing third, 13 seconds adrift, is a good scalp for the two even if Anna may be demonstrably below her best as she eases back into action. Disappointingly among the young Britons Rhona Callander lost over 2 minutes; she had been attentive and made all the front splits, whereas Jess Roberts, who had a better TT showing, had missed the stage 3 split. The afternoon semitappe saw Lisa Brennauer - who had been 7th in the TT - win a two-up sprint against Anouska Koster, while Jip van den Bos and her former teammate Anna Plichta, now with Trek, also survived a few seconds ahead of the bunch. Nobody of significance to the GC failed to make it in with the bunch, so we were set for the final day's action. The hard work to pressure Canyon did cost them some of their helpers, and Klein came in among the last few of the péloton, but van Dijk couldn't make a decisive gap, and so the German held on for the GC win, with the final stage ending in the inevitable sprint, Kirsten Wild defeating Jolien d'Hoore and Lorena Wiebes to the line.
1 Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM) GER 14'16'52
2 Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) NED +8"
3 Kirsten Wild (WNT) NED +31"
4 Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) NED +57"
5 Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) GBR +1'01"
6 Jolien d'Hoore (Boels-Dolmans) BEL +1'23"
7 Lotta Lepistö (Trek Factory Racing) FIN +1'29"
8 Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) LUX +1'31"
9 Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) NED +1'58"
10 Anouska Koster (Team Virtu) NED +2'27"
Obviously Brabantse Pijl is undoubtedly going to be remembered primarily for the moto trying to sabotage Liane Lippert through the medium of assault, but Sofie de Vuyst managed a strong win from the remains of that group of 13. Sunweb weren't able to come through on the win despite having 4 riders in the group of 13 that made up the main selection and with the most established sprinter in the group in Rivera, who could only manage third (21-year-old Italian prospect Marta Cavalli was 2nd, for the record), but without that moto, who knows? Lippert's move was clearly making progress at the time, in the end she trailed in a couple of minutes back.
It was always likely that Niewiadoma would win this type of race and Chapeau - Strange tactics by VOS who did so much work t the front of the peleton in the last 30 kms Reckon if the last km was a touch uphill then AVV would have caught Niewiadoma - Another excellent edition of Amstel Gold.
Yes, sod's law would have it that when my favourite women's pro finally rights that incomprehensible wrong of having never won an Ardennes Classic, I'm away and don't get to see it, so had to play catchup. It had to be said that when I first saw the results I almost had a coronary because Annemiek being on +s.t. suggested that Kasia had outsprinted her, which I would never have anticipated even if Kasia is no longer as completely incapable of a sprint as she once was, as she's still very much an outsider and the people I'd back her in a sprint against remain limited to the Longo Borghinis of this world (she's only ever won 3 races that weren't solo with a time gap - the European U23 RR in Tartu, when she snuck through a trio that was looking at one another; the Ronde van Gelderland in a two-up against Nathalie van Gogh; and a sprint of 5 in Sittard-Geleen which was uphill at 7% so didn't open up timegaps but was still an uphill sprint). I would say that it's nice to see Lizzie Deignan back, but I think we all know that she isn't my cup of tea; nevertheless while her entitled attitude and "take credit for all good, apportion blame for all bad" personality has always rubbed me up the wrong way, from a racing perspective she adds another wildcard into proceedings, as a former star in this kind of terrain (she had always been good at the Amstel Gold type of hills, it was the longer ones like Huy and the Liège ones that she only took to in the last couple of years before her baby break) and also in new surroundings rather than shielded by the dominant Boels machine (the division of talents in women's cycling seems much more equitable this season and it's made for more varied racing as a result, at least in the fairly selective parcours; not much would have helped races like de Panne short of a windstorm, sadly - at the same time, we saw Boels with four riders in the front group late on here, a couple of years ago it would have been a dark day in hell before they lost that position to a rider foraging alone as Kasia was, with no other Canyon riders in sight, but here they didn't have a single rider able to respond to Annemiek's attack on the Bemelerberg and van der Breggen was forced to make a strong solo chase to get across the gap to the escape. Of course that got neutralized and they marshalled things better after that, but it was a sign that they weren't quite the all conquering behemoth of the past, and it may have encouraged others to try their luck too) - as well as having her as a secondary contender means that ELB is furnished with additional opportunities for tactics in a way that she hasn't been for the last couple of years since Emma J retired - other stars on Wiggle in the last couple of seasons were either not suited to the same kind of racing - Bronzini, Brennauer - or not explosive, meaning the one-two punch was harder to work with - Lichtenberg - so how they bounce off each other once Lizzie is back on her game will be very interesting. Commentators seemed to think she was showing her strength when she made that move on the Cauberg but I thought she'd probably just have been testing how the legs respond in her first race back and getting a feel for where she is relative to the péloton given the development of the WWT and the changes in the péloton since she last raced. However, her presence and that she had shown off the ability to press on earlier in the race may have been part of why the group with Elisa in it was allowed to get up the road - Spratt and Hall are obviously secondary threats for their team (I know that sounds belittling for Amanda, but I only say that because Annemiek is such a superstar, whereas Hall is, for all her achievements in the US, a newcomer to the European péloton in her first year with Boels, and with people like van der Breggen on board, she'll always likely be outranked by somebody on the startline), while Elisa and Kasia are not renowned for sprint weapons, so everybody with a fast finish was still behind and it helped garner some cooperation, which you probably wouldn't ordinarily have expected; with major team leading options like Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma in the group, Spratt would not have been criticised had she nuked the escape for van Vleuten behind. I very much enjoyed how the members of that break refused to give up their position at the front, too, even after a second attack was caught after Vos pulled back the initial quartet.
I'd actually say that I think Flèche and LBL are more Kasia's kind of terrain because the climbs there are sustained enough to get rid of some more of the all-rounders (even if she has won on the Cauberg in the past, in the Boels Rentals Tour in 2016). I think we've discussed before that in the last 2-3 years we've found that Niewiadoma tends to be best in the sort of mid-sized climbs by men's racing size - the sort of cat.2 to borderline cat.1 types in the 4-8km kind of range; long enough to rid the bunch of the Blaak types, but she's struggled to match the likes of van der Breggen, van Vleuten and Moolman-Pasio on the real behemoths. Bira would seem to be ideal for her, and is indeed pretty much her first big win. However, she got her form wrong for the Ardennes last year, having been so good there the couple of years beforehand (arguably the strongest in 2017, but unable to compete when comfortably outnumbered and with Anna VDB and Lizzie both at comparable strength and able to out-think and out-position her), so it's pleasing that that seems to have been rectified, because it means she's hitting the climbing part of the season, where she should be coming out to play, at peak form.
So look, yes, I am a Kasia fan, we know that. And I also marked out like anything when the camera was pointing out that Annemiek and Anna VDB were duelling it out at the front, but with Cille foraging alone right on their tail (Cille with Bigla this season is reminding me a bit of Kasia with WM3, we shall see as this week goes on if the parallels continue). But there are some serious performances elsewhere in this race that really need to be talked about.
First and foremost, Marta Bastianelli is doing what Coryn Rivera managed a couple of years ago and being incredibly strong and surprisingly resilient in a race like this - obviously Coryn was able to withstand Binda so is no climbing mug just as Bastianelli managing to get to the end of de Ronde at the front showcases her durability, but the actual finish in Amstel Gold clearly doesn't suit her, but she still managed to hold on for a top 10 to keep hold of a very strong position in the overall WWT from an all-year-long perspective; she'll find it harder to replicate this kind of points performance in the Belgian races this week, but nevertheless, continuing to pile points onto that formidable early season lead is making her quite the comeback story this season (which probably wasn't in Lizzie's script since she's obviously the biggest name returnee this year, and she'll have to really go some to outdo Marta's achievements already this year!). Marta chasing Vos when she annihilated the breakaway was quite impressive too, even if she paid for it in the end. I don't attach the same importance to her being able to follow van Vleuten on the Bemelerberg, however, since that is probably the crappiest climb in all of cycling.
Also Demi Vollering is more than worth mentioning - a 22-year-old puncheuse in her first pro year, with the local Parkhotel Valkenburg team. Not sure if local expertise will have formed the basis of her success, I don't know a great deal about her, although on similar roads to these she won the women's version of the Volta Limburg Classic - a national event only, so no UCI points at all, but the field looks to have been pretty decent, including Andersen, Wiebes, Hannes, Ensing, Buurman, Mathiesen, Labous, and Schneider. Top 10 in a World Tour race would in an ordinary season be a great result for the Parkhotel team, but with Lorena Wiebes being so great in the sprints, they aren't wanting for WWT points. Still...
We should also talk about Annika Langvad, who doesn't do many road races but is continuing her trend of being Boels' best rider when she races, which is of course no mean feat. And this despite crashing (despite likely having the best technical chops of anybody in the field). She may be one of those cases like Jean-Christophe Péraud where we wonder just what she could have achieved had she switched to road at her peak - I will be very interested to see if she will do MTB through the summer or if, given the super-mountainous route, Boels rope her in to do the Giro. With van der Breggen likely to return to the race this year, but Guarnier gone to retirement (technically speaking she's on the roster of TIBCO but she hasn't raced and likely won't race apart from maybe one or two in the States, it's one of those deals where she's a registered rider and the team acquires her points from the previous season but she isn't likely to actually turn out for the team as anything other than an occasional ringer, I believe Emma Johansson's role within Wiggle in 2017 was not dissimilar) and Deignan to Trek, a bit of the depth is harmed; her and Hall would go a long way to rectifying that and preventing Boels from leaving their leader isolated in the mountains if Mitchelton-Scott go like they did last season.
But really, that was quite the exhibition on the Cauberg from Kasia, it was like Gilbert on Huy in 2011 or something, just going straight away, dropping everybody and keeping on going. Quite a masterful bit of positioning too, I noticed that van Vleuten didn't get a great final left-hander into the Cauberg; Cille was right at the back of the group, and the Pole was surrounded mainly by a few of the less well known names in the group, like Vollering and Paladin, which meant that a few people just had a little bit longer for the road to clear in front of them to follow, by which time it was too late. Watching van Vleuten close made me think we were going to get a re-run of La Course last year (not that there's anything wrong with that, who doesn't love a dramatic finale?). Kept it tense! Not sure I agree with Hatch calling it the biggest win of her career (Tour of Britain is at least parallel, Emakumeen Bira is one of the most important stage races, Trofeo Binda is a more historic race), but no doubt she'll be going into Flèche and Liège brimming with confidence, especially for Huy after putting everybody to the sword.
And, you know, more quotable gold: on being asked why she makes so many attacks so early, and if she's not afraid of running out of energy, the response? "That's my style". And about how she keeps being told to not waste her energy making too many attacks, but she can't stop herself. Let's face it, that's the kind of rider we should all want more of.
ASO... at this point I'm almost certain that it's wilful sabotage. Between the steadfast refusal to offer any airtime to their races and the 2019 La Course being five laps of the Pau ITT course (which means that the women must be finished by the time the men start, which with likely around 160 men starting means they'll need 3hrs + the time to complete the course for the men to do it (1 min gaps for the first 150, then 3 min gaps for the top 10), meaning the women will probably have to start four hours before the men are scheduled to make sure there's time to do all the podium ceremonies and everything, meaning they start seven hours before the people that the fans want to see go by, and also of course it's a flat to rolling slightly hilly one-day race, something that is very over-represented on the women's calendar, as opposed to the last two editions which have been very mountainous and somewhat unique on the calendar, and also it's less likely to draw the positive crowd factor of the Champs Elysées editions either.
I mean, how can they look at the climactic final kilometres of the women's race in 2018, with van Vleuten stalking van der Breggen every moment to the line, with Anna holding on for grim death and looking like she'd done it only for disaster to befall her at the last, how can they look at the mano a mano battles for the last 30km compared to the phony war enacted by the men a few hours later, how can they look at that Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig interview, in tears on the tarmac out of sheer passion and joy at, just once a year, being made to feel like a star, and say "we need to provide less of this" unless their goal is actively to stop women's cycling from catching on? See I actually kind of think that is their goal. Firstly, because at La Course last year the women rather upstaged the men. Partly that was because the women had just come from a tough Giro and there were varying fatigue levels, as opposed to the men who had raced a week of pan-flat boring stages. Partly that's because La Course is not the universal target that the Tour is on the men's calendar, so people weren't all at the same point in their form cycle. And partly that's because it was a one-day race for the women, with no tomorrow to fear. But the women's race was better received and more active than the men's. And not only have ASO failed to - no, refused to capitalise, but they have actively regressed. Why, unless they were trying to prevent the women producing an exciting race?
Why? I think ASO are worried about having to spend money that they don't want to spend. They don't want to take any risks. That's the crux of it. They don't want to be pressured into producing a bigger women's race; the whole point with La Course was to do the bare minimum and pat themselves on the back about it, so that they could say they were 'doing their bit' for equality. That's why they stuck with the Champs crit for a few years until there was expectation for more, and then they decided to ape a different stage of the race, building buzz but not having to go out of their way. If you look at the way ASO has expanded its portfolio in recent years, it's all been about taking on established races (increased stake in Unipublic, purchase of the Dauphiné) or taking money from oil rich states in the pay-to-play fashion (Qatar, Oman and similar). This can help them fund their often loss-making pet project, the Dakar Rally, which is somewhat beleaguered at the moment, this year's race struggling to get support with Bolivia and Chile both pulling out and Peru having problems stumping up the money to host. Le Tour and the cycling portfolio basically props up the Amaury family's Rally Raid interests. Spending money on what is seen as a risky investment, expanding their women's cycling portfolio, is not something they're keen to do at such a time as audiences are reducing for Le Tour, and the Dakar is in a bad way.
But, at the same time, in today's environment, they are also feeling ever more pressure to give the women more inclusive treatment. Having overstretched themselves and wildly miscalculating the level of professionalism in women's cycling when first trying to launch a women's Tour in the 80s, ASO are reluctant to try again, even at the point at which professionalism in women's cycling has come on in leaps and bounds. And they want to stymy all of the clamour to do so, in the wake of some pretty exciting racing now being seen by more people thanks to other race organisers having the temerity to produce better coverage. As a result, they don't want to run any women's cycling events that aren't concurrent with a men's event which is already extant; and they don't want to give any airtime to that women's event. By not showing the women's race, it is hard for people to judge the women's races against the men's, and it's hard for the casual fan to develop the same kind of support for the characters of the women's péloton that allows them to choose sides and want to follow them all year round; by only running events in conjunction with the men, it makes it impossible to judge what the actual appeal of a standalone women's event would be (this can vary wildly; many will only start and finish in pretty obscure locations, and many promoters struggle with a lack of funding that means races aren't well marketed, but well-run standalone races like the Women's Tour and the Ladies' Tour of Norway show that you can get some good crowds for women-only races).
As such, the only way we're going to get proper TV coverage for La Flèche Wallonne Féminin is in one of the following circumstances:
- ASO caves to the pressure and creates a bigger July race out of La Course, a facsimile of a Women's Tour de France or otherwise, and feels the need to push women's cycling elsewhere in order to maximise the potential of their investment, leading them to focus on improving coverage of those races already in their portfolio;
- Another race organiser is tasked with organising La Flèche Wallonne, with more interest in promoting the women's race
- the UCI makes it compulsory that they broadcast it.
- if we're really, really lucky, ASO will start making money from the Dakar and some more competitive editions of Le Tour will bring some more sponsors on board and mean they're willing to take a few more risks.
I mean, when the women are in the decisive parts of the race, the men are easing around with absolutely jack happening, so it's not like we can't catch up.
Anyway: should talk a bit about the race. But it would have been nicer to see it. Great work from Anna VDB and, having mentioned that Boels haven't been quite as dominant as they had been in recent years just yesterday, they fire back by doing a classic two-of-the-three-on-the-podium job here - and with Langvad continuing her "only race sporadically, always be amazing when you race" road career, she now seems like the #2 on the team in the hills. The star of the week looks like being Demi Vollering, though - top 5 on Huy after the top 10 in Amstel Gold, from a very much unexpected source - she's young and I know little about her, in her first pro year after being on the Swaboladies amateur team before; she doesn't have too much in the way of results until fairly recently but part of that appears to be a lack of climbing races in her experience, a bit like how Nosková was slept on by a lot of teams while a CX specialist because she'd only been doing flattish road races, so when BePink sent her to races like the Emakumeen Bira and Giro del Trentino she excelled; Vollering's best results before this were in races like the Tour de l'Ardêche and Thüringen Rundfahrt on its most difficult stages so suggests she's a good climber. And I mean, when the three riders trailing you home are Niewiadoma, Moolman-Pasio and Ludwig, then you've obviously got some real chops for this, especially considering we saw what kind of form Kasia is in at the weekend. Brodie Chapman for TIBCO is another slightly surprising top 10, but as she's in some kind of physical peak, at 28, and she got some good results, particularly in California, last year, but hasn't raced too much in Europe, this is less of a serving-notice than Vollering, but still.
A couple of big teams will be pretty disappointed though; Sunweb had Coryn DNF, and their climbing side - Ensing and Brand at this kind of climb - were a long way down so as to be a non-factor by the time they got onto the Mur. Leah Kirchmann in 17th was their best finisher on the day, one place ahead of Floortje. Trek were even more surprisingly uncompetitive - Longo Borghini's form was only good for 20th, while Deignan is still finding her feet again and was a little way below. Jolanda Neff, their potential wildcard option, was at around the same level, while Winder and Wiles were out of contention early on.
Van Vleuten was quoted after the race as saying she was "proud that this race was on live television. People want to see it. Really sad that ASO don't take us, and the rules, seriously, by not broadcasting Fleche and Liege live."
The refusal to broadcast the women's race at all in Europe is baffling to me, given that (as you pointed out) there usually isn't much going on during the men's race when the women's race is at the pointy end. To me it makes total sense to show the final 40 kms of the women's race (let's say that the men have 100 kms to race at that point in time), but with the potential to cross back to the men's race at any time, for when something of relevance actually happens. Or even if for starters, they showed just the last half an hour of a women's event (15-20 kms), that would still be decent. I don't have the interest in the sport to chase up results, or to watch on grainy live feeds, but I would probably watch a lot of the racing if it was broadcast on tv. And I don't even always watch the men's races (partly because in Australia they are not all broadcast, and when they are it is on late at night), but I'll sometimes 'watch' via people's posts on the racing threads, which I find an entertaining way to take it all in, sometimes even to read them the following day. Of course this is also something that we do not have with the women's races, and is something that can build interest (but you need interest in in the first place to have) and love for the sport.
Anyway, do the women race LBL as well this weekend? In Australia we will be broadcasting the men's race, I know that much.
Yup, LBL on Sunday, but no coverage at all because ASO.
It's not like it's The Women's Tour either, where they made a conscious decision not to broadcast live, but produce a detailed hour long highlights package every day including rider featurettes and similar to help people familiarise themselves with the women's péloton (and oftentimes disguise the lack of action. The course for this year is slightly more promising - it includes a HTF on stage 4 and stage 5 includes the most vertical metres ever in a Women's Tour stage, but given odd designs like the Chesterfield stage the year Kasia won, where they went through the Peak District in the first half of the stage then a rolling section east of the city in the second half to negate those gaps, I need to see a profile before I get excited. Stage 6 also includes the Black Mountain climb that was used in the 2010 men's Tour of Britain, and is one of Britain's tougher accessible passes, but is also quite a way from the finish). Emakumeen Bira has now got full coverage via a small online streaming service, with highlights and the final stage live broadcast with ETB. Increasingly, ASO are being left in the dark ages with the coverage, and despite being the oldest and most prestigious of the women's hilly classics, Flèche may find its position being usurped if they don't try to keep up. Given how keen ASO usually are to protect their positions of strength, this does suggest a conscious decision.
The TT at Borsele is not a UCI event, and is technically speaking open entry, although it's really a pro event. It's a bit like those Colombian pro races like the Clásico RCN which have proper pro startlists but no UCI status. It's then connected to a one-day race which does have UCI categorization. Sunweb aren't entering the event, but Pernille isn't racing with them at Liège. Because the one-day road race is a UCI event (1.1 as mentioned above by Tim), Pernille could only race if she could be agreed as a guest racer by both Sunweb and whichever team she deigned to race for, because she can't race as a lone entrant. However, she can enter an ITT as a lone entrant even if the Borsele ITT did go UCI, because it would then be like the Chrono des Nations or similar. I assume that Pernille has been in the Netherlands for training or with the rest of the team that isn't doing the Ardennes, and has therefore decided that since she's around, she may as well get some racing in, and has entered Borsele accordingly.
Lack of race coverage is primarily an ASO issue - It's stated that Lefevre is behind the times well ASO share the same cave - Limited race coverage of women's races while they refuse to have a Paris Roubiax - PR would be a great race for women as I have no idea who would win - And of course a TDF stage race at whatever period maybe around late August or Early September would be great.