The Women's Road Racing Thread 2021

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It's hard to predict the winner of the Tour of Britain - When you factor in the freshness of the riders, the inclusion of an ITT and a not too hard parcours.

I still find it hard to fathom that TOB has received little or no scrutiny for it's lack of live coverage from the general media ( including this publication ) or social media, but yet the Gira Donne and PR organizers continue to be criticised.

And Lucy Kennedy has come out of retirement to ride this race for Bike Exchange who are short of riders.
When it comes to the Giro, there have been a few other things to be critical about plus it plus the Women's Tour doesn't have the same high status. But I agree there should be more outrage about it. I would be a lot more forgiving, if they at least provided some kind of live coverage, but non at all is simply not good enough in this day and age. It's not really a good sign for the future of the race either. One can only hope AJ Bell and other sponsors will provide more funding for next year's edition.

Regarding the outcome of the race, a strong TTer like Labous could have good chance here, especially because she definitely isn't fatigued after Paris-Roubaix, and DSM has a solid team to help her. But Trek and SD Worx might still be too strong for them. If Lowden is fully ready to race on the road again, she shouldn't be underestimated either.
 
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Oct 3, 2021
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When it comes to the Giro, there have been a few other things to be critical about plus it plus the Women's Tour doesn't have the same high status. But I agree there should be more outrage about it. I would be a lot more forgiving, if they at least provided some kind of live coverage, but non at all is simply not good enough in this day and age. It's not really a good sign for the future of the race either. One can only hope AJ Bell and other sponsors will provide more funding for next year's edition.

Regarding the outcome of the race, a strong TTer like Labous could have good chance here, especially because she definitely isn't fatigued after Paris-Roubaix, and DSM has a solid team to help her. But Trek and SD Worx might still be too strong for them. If Lowden is fully ready to race on the road again, she shouldn't be underestimated either.
true tv coverage wasnt the only issue at the Giro, but it was the big stick used to beat it with, and Ive been amazed how the same live tv aspect is being completely overlooked for the Women's Tour by the same media cheerleaders who were chastising the ASO for not showing the Paris Roubaix Femmes in its entirety, clearly its not what you know but who you know that gets you a good press for these things.

van Vleuten was my pick when she was down for the race,obv not happening now, and Im astounded Canyon Sram are only going with 4 riders on their team so theyll struggle to make an impact, was PRB that bad for them injuries wise ? Trek are down a rider too with Ellen van Dijk out with concussion, and I dont know if Lizzie will suffer from a post victory kind of hangover and just use it to focus on nationals and boosting her teammates chances instead as its not really her kind of course.

I dont think the ITT stage will have an impact as its too short for a proper time trialist to take any advantage, not too different from the ITT at this years Giro,

I could see Amy Pieters, or even Demi Vollering if she is given freedom to race winning it really, SD worx probably have the strongest line up, actually I look at it and think why on earth did Jolien D'hoore retire this weekend, this route is tailor made for a sprinter to win alot of the stages, or a Marianne Vos style rider, and ok I know Jumbo Visma dont get automatic invites as only a conti level team, but that seems a surprising absentee.
 
true tv coverage wasnt the only issue at the Giro, but it was the big stick used to beat it with, and Ive been amazed how the same live tv aspect is being completely overlooked for the Women's Tour by the same media cheerleaders who were chastising the ASO for not showing the Paris Roubaix Femmes in its entirety, clearly its not what you know but who you know that gets you a good press for these things.

van Vleuten was my pick when she was down for the race,obv not happening now, and Im astounded Canyon Sram are only going with 4 riders on their team so theyll struggle to make an impact, was PRB that bad for them injuries wise ? Trek are down a rider too with Ellen van Dijk out with concussion, and I dont know if Lizzie will suffer from a post victory kind of hangover and just use it to focus on nationals and boosting her teammates chances instead as its not really her kind of course.

I dont think the ITT stage will have an impact as its too short for a proper time trialist to take any advantage, not too different from the ITT at this years Giro,

I could see Amy Pieters, or even Demi Vollering if she is given freedom to race winning it really, SD worx probably have the strongest line up, actually I look at it and think why on earth did Jolien D'hoore retire this weekend, this route is tailor made for a sprinter to win alot of the stages, or a Marianne Vos style rider, and ok I know Jumbo Visma dont get automatic invites as only a conti level team, but that seems a surprising absentee.
Niewiadoma was supposed to ride it, but she crashed out before the first cobbles in P-R and hurt her knee. Amialiusik crashed out as well, and Lisa Klein also had a training accident before the race and had to undergo surgery on her shoulder.

The ITT is about the same length as the one in the Simac Ladies Tour, which resulted in only three riders really having a chance of winning the race afterwards, and that was even before the huge crash on the following stage. Of course non of the riders in this race are as good as Reusser and Van Dijk, but Van den Broek-Blaak also took a lot of time on many riders on that stage.

The other stages and bonus seconds will obviously also have an impact on the final result, but if you lose more than a minute or maybe just 30 seconds during the ITT, it won't be easy to gain back.

The race has made a deal with PCS to provide livestats, which is better than nothing, though PCS of course has been fully neglecting women's races for years.
 
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Thalita de Jong won the inaugural Grote Prijs Beerens today. Her first pro win in more than five years.

And Thalita de Jong is looking for a neat team, because Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire will be closing down. Currently they only have six riders, who are able/want to ride for them, and they aren't sure if they will even make it to the startline for Binche Chimay Binche tomorrow. LS will probably be saddened to learn that Rossella Ratto rode the last race of her career in Ardèche.
 
And Thalita de Jong is looking for a neat team, because Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire will be closing down. Currently they only have six riders, who are able/want to ride for them, and they aren't sure if they will even make it to the startline for Binche Chimay Binche tomorrow. LS will probably be saddened to learn that Rossella Ratto rode the last race of her career in Ardèche.
BEX got Lucy Kennedy out of retirement for this race as the team has been decimated for various reasons.
 
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Coop-Hitec had a day with mixed results. Josie Nelson got her first WWT top 10 finish, while she was upposed to have been doing the leadout for Ingvild Gåskjenn who got involved in a big crash inside the last 2 km. Emma Boogaard had to abandon, because both of the neutral service cars were in front of the peloton when she had a puncture.

View: https://twitter.com/josienelsonx/status/1445063410849308675


View: https://mobile.twitter.com/EmmaBoogaard/status/1445064681337524231
 
What a difference a pandemic makes. It seems last time we saw it, the Women's Tour was going from strength to strength, with the 2019 edition having been a strong race, with it extending by a day for the first time, adding in its first hill top finish, and throwing in the hardest stage the race had had to date with a tough Welsh stage including some climbing that, if not anything that might make it comparable to a Giro or an Emakumeen Bira, was at least long enough to really give everybody a chance. It had arrived in the calendar with huge crowds and strong support, with the support for the race and the quality organisation, prize money and accommodation making it a well-deserved hit with the teams and riders, and the hour-long highlights package light years ahead of what most races were providing at the time. The race's in-competition aspect at the time left a bit to be desired with uninspiring parcours, however, and lagged behind the organisation, with the first few editions settled on bonus seconds alone and unable to deliver the level of spectacle that the race's hype train would have you believe.

Over time, the parcours has ebbed and flowed. The race, while always well-planned from an organisational standpoint, has struggled to provide a point of differentiation to those not in the péloton, where the point of differentiation was the respect with which they were treated and the size of the crowds. On the bike, it's only been in two editions - 2016 and 2019 - that we've really seen a break from the time bonuses being decisive - 2018 for me being particularly disappointing because the preceding two editions had been steps in the right direction, but in 2018 Coryn Rivera managed to win both the intermediate sprints classification and the GC, all without leaving the confines of the péloton. I appreciate - in many ways even support - the desire to honour and return to those areas of the country that helped establish the race, but even taking into account the relatively flat terrain in Eastern and Central England, they are skipping past a lot of the potentially more interesting terrain in the area and always have done. For example, 2019's race had a stage finish in Stowmarket, and did you know there's a climb of 800m at 6% just outside the town that, while not likely to disturb the sprinters, could have added some intrigue and a platform to attack from? Don't worry, neither did the organisers.

Obviously, 2020 changed everything and the Britons were somewhat slow to react when the pandemic began, meaning the chances of opening up enough to hold the race in 2020 were pretty much eliminated, and title sponsors Ovo Energy left the fold as well. The organisers, SweetSpot, decided early on not to bother trying to throw something together in the rapidly congested 2020 season that began later on, feeling they couldn't do their event justice (and depending on when they lost the title sponsor on the way, that may have played a role too). They were far from alone in this and I do not blame them for it. However, I do resent that the punishment meted out to the Giro Donne for failing to provide live coverage in 2020 could so easily have been avoided had they, like the Women's Tour, simply not bothered to run it and kicked the can down the road. The 2020 Giro Donne was thrown together on short notice and it clearly showed, with the race having to be rapidly amended on the fly and changes to the course happening even while the riders were already on the road, but they managed to put on an event and they probably regretted it, seeing as they got their WWT status revoked due to the issues they'd faced.

Now, the Giro Donne's organisation leaves a lot to be desired, and it has done for a long time. That I cannot dispute. However, the Women's Tour - which has always had very professional and slick TV production, but has crucially never had any live coverage - was frequently used as the counterpart to the Giro, and as something that it should aspire to. It does seem - and it is something I am ambivalent about - that the era of the privateer organiser in women's cycling is coming to an end. I'm ambivalent about that because those underfunded volunteer organisations have been the lifeblood of the sport for many years, keeping it alive while the big event organisers had no interest, and I feel a sense of regret that they're being chewed up and spat out by the likes of ASO, who've spent so many years trying their hardest to do as little as possible for women's cycling; but at the same time the more races that take place with top level organisation, with better coverage and better prize money, the stronger the level of professionalism in the women's bunch and the less need there is for the privateer group that cannot secure significant prize money or sponsorships, not through lack of willing but through lack of resource.

However, a lot has changed in the two and a half years since the Women's Tour was last run. The UCI have made live coverage compulsory, and even ASO have acquiesced. Paris-Roubaix has been added, there is talk of a women's Lombardia (long overdue, and for all the criticism ASO take for their token efforts, RCS do even less) and we finally have live coverage at events like La Flèche Wallonne. We've had an Olympics which has given us some major headlines and put women's cycling, albeit briefly and not necessarily for the right reasons, at the forefront of international sports news. We've had a Women's Tour de France announced, and we've had races like the Vuelta Challenge turned from one of those old pseudo-crits into a mountainous stage race, even if only in the short term. And in that time, in Britain, things have stagnated. And now, far from being the ones setting the pace, they're the ones struggling to keep up.

Now, obviously, the change in the calendar to October has not helped. Rather than being a focal point of the season, taking place in May or June, the race is taking place as something of a coda at the end of the season, and with all other conceivable season's targets now passed, it feels like something of an afterthought. That coverage that had been groundbreaking is now decidedly passe, and although some people are unwilling to call them out (Jose Been, for example, has pleaded for understanding with the race, although the fact the Women's Tour gave her one of her first major TV breakthroughs might predispose her to a more sympathetic outlook of course) there have also been a lot of voices calling for the WWT status to be revoked, since the precedent has now been set. Starting just one day's rest after the first ever women's Paris-Roubaix means hardly anybody has been talking about the Women's Tour, and it feels very much like an afterthought after an epic day's racing in the rain and the mud on Saturday. An insipid parcours that has a lot more in common with the early bonus second fiesta editions than the stronger editions in 2016 and 2019 does not help (a certain irony in that those two editions were the ones won by the home star, Lizzie Deignan, so you would have thought that the combination of better quality racing and a marketable winner in the race's home market would have inspired them to follow that formula, but the reverse seems to have been the case) with its only defining feature being a long ITT which, with no hilly stages to counterbalance it, threatens to completely imbalance the GC. This combination has really hurt the star power this year too, with no Jumbo-Visma or Ceratizit, and a huge number of the biggest names still active missing - and not just those that the route doesn't suit, like Niewiadoma or Uttrup, but those that it does, like Vos, Brennauer and Norsgaard, too.

Hopefully this can be a one-year anomaly, but realistically they should earn their WWT status back. The organiser is the same one that produces the men's Tour of Britain, which just had live coverage less than a month ago, and is a race at a considerably lower level relative to the calendar than the Women's Tour is, or at least how it purports to be. Now, not all of this is SweetSpot's fault. Of interest was the discovery that, although they had played nice and explained it was because the idea was that it was a Women's Tour in Britain rather than a Women's Tour of Britain that the race wasn't called Tour of Britain, minimising some of the debate that periodically arises when one of the constituent parts of the UK has been neglected by the race in the men's Tour of Britain for a while, in reality SweetSpot run the men's Tour of Britain in conjunction with British Cycling, whereas British Cycling are not involved in the organisation of the Women's Tour and protected their trademark of the title Tour of Britain, preventing SweetSpot from using it, and it is likely this link to British Cycling and the more marketable names that hold sway in the live coverage debate. And it strikes a worrying note, reminding me of ASO suing the organisers of women's stage races in France if they used the word Tour or had a yellow leader's jersey. Or maybe British Cycling as an entity, that has controlled pretty much all cycling in Britain for decades, is growing a bit concerned about losing some of that stranglehold? Who knows, but the Women's Tour really needs something to inject some momentum back into it, even if it's just a return to its regular calendar spot, because the race has gone from a focal point on the calendar attracting almost all the top stars and receiving praise for its coverage to a late-season afterthought in danger of falling behind the curve very, very quickly.
 
Watched the highlights of the Women's Tour on ITV. Shocking absolutely shocking. A race like this deserves better. A race like this also deserves better courses too. The last time this was run, the 60km or whatever route on that cycle track in Gravesend was a complete joke.
 
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What a difference a pandemic makes. It seems last time we saw it, the Women's Tour was going from strength to strength, with the 2019 edition having been a strong race, with it extending by a day for the first time, adding in its first hill top finish, and throwing in the hardest stage the race had had to date with a tough Welsh stage including some climbing that, if not anything that might make it comparable to a Giro or an Emakumeen Bira, was at least long enough to really give everybody a chance. It had arrived in the calendar with huge crowds and strong support, with the support for the race and the quality organisation, prize money and accommodation making it a well-deserved hit with the teams and riders, and the hour-long highlights package light years ahead of what most races were providing at the time. The race's in-competition aspect at the time left a bit to be desired with uninspiring parcours, however, and lagged behind the organisation, with the first few editions settled on bonus seconds alone and unable to deliver the level of spectacle that the race's hype train would have you believe.

Over time, the parcours has ebbed and flowed. The race, while always well-planned from an organisational standpoint, has struggled to provide a point of differentiation to those not in the péloton, where the point of differentiation was the respect with which they were treated and the size of the crowds. On the bike, it's only been in two editions - 2016 and 2019 - that we've really seen a break from the time bonuses being decisive - 2018 for me being particularly disappointing because the preceding two editions had been steps in the right direction, but in 2018 Coryn Rivera managed to win both the intermediate sprints classification and the GC, all without leaving the confines of the péloton. I appreciate - in many ways even support - the desire to honour and return to those areas of the country that helped establish the race, but even taking into account the relatively flat terrain in Eastern and Central England, they are skipping past a lot of the potentially more interesting terrain in the area and always have done. For example, 2019's race had a stage finish in Stowmarket, and did you know there's a climb of 800m at 6% just outside the town that, while not likely to disturb the sprinters, could have added some intrigue and a platform to attack from? Don't worry, neither did the organisers.

Obviously, 2020 changed everything and the Britons were somewhat slow to react when the pandemic began, meaning the chances of opening up enough to hold the race in 2020 were pretty much eliminated, and title sponsors Ovo Energy left the fold as well. The organisers, SweetSpot, decided early on not to bother trying to throw something together in the rapidly congested 2020 season that began later on, feeling they couldn't do their event justice (and depending on when they lost the title sponsor on the way, that may have played a role too). They were far from alone in this and I do not blame them for it. However, I do resent that the punishment meted out to the Giro Donne for failing to provide live coverage in 2020 could so easily have been avoided had they, like the Women's Tour, simply not bothered to run it and kicked the can down the road. The 2020 Giro Donne was thrown together on short notice and it clearly showed, with the race having to be rapidly amended on the fly and changes to the course happening even while the riders were already on the road, but they managed to put on an event and they probably regretted it, seeing as they got their WWT status revoked due to the issues they'd faced.

Now, the Giro Donne's organisation leaves a lot to be desired, and it has done for a long time. That I cannot dispute. However, the Women's Tour - which has always had very professional and slick TV production, but has crucially never had any live coverage - was frequently used as the counterpart to the Giro, and as something that it should aspire to. It does seem - and it is something I am ambivalent about - that the era of the privateer organiser in women's cycling is coming to an end. I'm ambivalent about that because those underfunded volunteer organisations have been the lifeblood of the sport for many years, keeping it alive while the big event organisers had no interest, and I feel a sense of regret that they're being chewed up and spat out by the likes of ASO, who've spent so many years trying their hardest to do as little as possible for women's cycling; but at the same time the more races that take place with top level organisation, with better coverage and better prize money, the stronger the level of professionalism in the women's bunch and the less need there is for the privateer group that cannot secure significant prize money or sponsorships, not through lack of willing but through lack of resource.

However, a lot has changed in the two and a half years since the Women's Tour was last run. The UCI have made live coverage compulsory, and even ASO have acquiesced. Paris-Roubaix has been added, there is talk of a women's Lombardia (long overdue, and for all the criticism ASO take for their token efforts, RCS do even less) and we finally have live coverage at events like La Flèche Wallonne. We've had an Olympics which has given us some major headlines and put women's cycling, albeit briefly and not necessarily for the right reasons, at the forefront of international sports news. We've had a Women's Tour de France announced, and we've had races like the Vuelta Challenge turned from one of those old pseudo-crits into a mountainous stage race, even if only in the short term. And in that time, in Britain, things have stagnated. And now, far from being the ones setting the pace, they're the ones struggling to keep up.

Now, obviously, the change in the calendar to October has not helped. Rather than being a focal point of the season, taking place in May or June, the race is taking place as something of a coda at the end of the season, and with all other conceivable season's targets now passed, it feels like something of an afterthought. That coverage that had been groundbreaking is now decidedly passe, and although some people are unwilling to call them out (Jose Been, for example, has pleaded for understanding with the race, although the fact the Women's Tour gave her one of her first major TV breakthroughs might predispose her to a more sympathetic outlook of course) there have also been a lot of voices calling for the WWT status to be revoked, since the precedent has now been set. Starting just one day's rest after the first ever women's Paris-Roubaix means hardly anybody has been talking about the Women's Tour, and it feels very much like an afterthought after an epic day's racing in the rain and the mud on Saturday. An insipid parcours that has a lot more in common with the early bonus second fiesta editions than the stronger editions in 2016 and 2019 does not help (a certain irony in that those two editions were the ones won by the home star, Lizzie Deignan, so you would have thought that the combination of better quality racing and a marketable winner in the race's home market would have inspired them to follow that formula, but the reverse seems to have been the case) with its only defining feature being a long ITT which, with no hilly stages to counterbalance it, threatens to completely imbalance the GC. This combination has really hurt the star power this year too, with no Jumbo-Visma or Ceratizit, and a huge number of the biggest names still active missing - and not just those that the route doesn't suit, like Niewiadoma or Uttrup, but those that it does, like Vos, Brennauer and Norsgaard, too.

Hopefully this can be a one-year anomaly, but realistically they should earn their WWT status back. The organiser is the same one that produces the men's Tour of Britain, which just had live coverage less than a month ago, and is a race at a considerably lower level relative to the calendar than the Women's Tour is, or at least how it purports to be. Now, not all of this is SweetSpot's fault. Of interest was the discovery that, although they had played nice and explained it was because the idea was that it was a Women's Tour in Britain rather than a Women's Tour of Britain that the race wasn't called Tour of Britain, minimising some of the debate that periodically arises when one of the constituent parts of the UK has been neglected by the race in the men's Tour of Britain for a while, in reality SweetSpot run the men's Tour of Britain in conjunction with British Cycling, whereas British Cycling are not involved in the organisation of the Women's Tour and protected their trademark of the title Tour of Britain, preventing SweetSpot from using it, and it is likely this link to British Cycling and the more marketable names that hold sway in the live coverage debate. And it strikes a worrying note, reminding me of ASO suing the organisers of women's stage races in France if they used the word Tour or had a yellow leader's jersey. Or maybe British Cycling as an entity, that has controlled pretty much all cycling in Britain for decades, is growing a bit concerned about losing some of that stranglehold? Who knows, but the Women's Tour really needs something to inject some momentum back into it, even if it's just a return to its regular calendar spot, because the race has gone from a focal point on the calendar attracting almost all the top stars and receiving praise for its coverage to a late-season afterthought in danger of falling behind the curve very, very quickly.
Let's just hope the race returns in a better shape next year.

If they had known beforehand that Deignan would come in with a fresh P-R win, they might have produced a different route.

Hitec has lost Gåskjenn and Caroline Andersson due to yesterday's crash, while Jeanne Korevaar has broken her collarbone. Liv has also lost Alison Jackson.
 
Amy Pieters won stage 2 from a group of 10, while Clara Copponi took over the race lead. The peloton finished 42 seconds behind, so the overall winner will most likely be one of those 10 riders.


Lucy Kennedy has now officially retired for the second time.

View: https://twitter.com/lucyjkenn/status/1445417693960708097
 
Vollering, Labous and Chabbey clearly want this one, they've been very active. Audrey Cordon-Ragot is an interesting factor for tomorrow's ITT, too. She's a very strong rouleuse and good in poor conditions, but seldom gets the chance to fight for her own chances. Probably because of being mistaken for Elisa Longo Borghini every time she tries to attack :p
 
Vollering, Labous and Chabbey clearly want this one, they've been very active. Audrey Cordon-Ragot is an interesting factor for tomorrow's ITT, too. She's a very strong rouleuse and good in poor conditions, but seldom gets the chance to fight for her own chances. Probably because of being mistaken for Elisa Longo Borghini every time she tries to attack :p
I actually missed that Cordon-Ragot lost three minutes yesterday, so she won't have a chance in the GC, but the ITT should suit her. Deignan is also more than a minute behind on GC, so not the best start for Trek, though they would have won yesterday if Copponi hadn't opened up enough space for Bastianelli to come through and overtake Hosking.
 

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