Monday, 27 May 2013

Giro del Trentino Alto Adige-Südtirol 2013

15-16.06.2013 Official Site
Italy, 3-stage Road Race, 204.4km
UCI 2.1

Also known as the Giro del Trentino Femminile, the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige-Südtirol is now in its 20th edition and is an event that has grown to become perhaps Italy's most popular women's race after the Giro Donne (renamed the Giro Rosa this year) for which, with a good selection of steep climbs along the parcours, it forms important preparation for the riders (the Italian National Championships take place in between the two races, making the race doubly important to the Italian riders - expect teams to be sending any riders they have who'll be in the Championships).

However, its been won by an Italian rider only once in the last decade - Fabiana Luperini, who also won in 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2002, took the honours for a record fifth time in 2008. Luisa Tamanini, another Italian, won in 2003; German Tina Liebig won in 2004; the Russian Svetlana Bubnenkova won in 2005 and 2006; Lithuania's Edita Pucinskaite dominated by winning both stages and overall in 2007; Britain got its first win when Welsh Nicole Cooke won in 2008, then British riders dominated in 2009 when Emma Pooley won the first stage and Cooke won the second and overall in 2010; Judith Arndt from Germany won in 2011 and the Danish-born New Zealander Linda Villumsen won in 2012. (Incidentally, Luperini also came third in the first edition back in 1994 and second in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2007. She's still racing to this day, for the Faren-Let's Go Finland team, but isn't taking part in this event - or she's not on the roster, anyway: what start lists say and what actually happens in women's races are two very different things.)

The most notable difference this year is the addition of a team time trial stage (Stage 1). In 2012, there was a 5km individual time trial, won by Villumsen, but in the years prior to that the race had consisted entirely of mass-start road races. The race has also grown in length when compared to 2012 with 204.4km compared to 166.8km.


Stage 1a (TTT, Revò - Lauregno, 11.80 km)

View Trentino2013St1 in a larger map

Now here's something you don't see everyday - a team time trial that's uphill from start to finish. Hilly time trials and even time trials with serious climbs along the route are not unknown, but I can't recall ever seeing one that climbed in virtually every metre and it's something that will have the teams' directeurs sportif pondering exactly how to tackle the stage: since a team's time is determined according to the time recorded by the third rider over the line, they'll have to carefully work out who'll be pulling at the front and who will be most likely to have the strength to keep up at the end. That might make this prime territory for Specialized-Lululemon to find an early advantage prior to the mass-start stages beginning tomorrow - the team is widely-known for coherency and clever tactics under DS Ronny Lauke.

Stage 1a climbs almost all the way - and it's no
easy climb, either
There are a few potentially hazardous points along the way. The first is the pair of hairpins as the SP42 joins the SP28 which, being one of the main routes into Revo, is regularly used by delivery trucks and as such may be prone to slippery diesel spillages; the same is true 2.05km further on, still on the SP28, where there is a lumberyard on the right of the road.

Stage 1b (Termon di Campodenno, 88.80 km)

View GdT2013St1a in a larger map

Expect the sprinters and rouleurs to go all out for a big
lead over the climbers early on in Stage 1a
Starting on the slopes of a mountain at Termon with excellent views across the valley to the high mountains on the left, Stage 1a takes place in the afternoon of June the 15th after the team time trial. The initial 2km don't descend particularly steeply, but since climbers often lack the body weight they need to be able to maintain a comfortable degree of control over their bikes when descending it's likely that a large number of riders who prefer other sorts of terrain will make use of the much steeper 1.5km that follow to get ahead, then attempt to lengthen the gap and, if they can, stay ahead for the remainder of the race so as to arrive at the Category 2 climb in the final 9km with a healthy advantage. However, inexperienced riders will need to take very great care, especially if the weather is bad - and if a large number of riders attempt to escape together, a small mistake by one rider could very easily turn into enormous pile-up carnage.

Haderburg, Catello di Salorno
The parcours is flat from 10 to 70km. After traveling as far south as Zambana, the riders turn north-east and continue to San Michele All'adige and then, a few kilometres ahead, begin a circuit passing through Faedo, Salorno and Rovere' della Luna, sitting in the narrow Aldige valley and enjoying some of the most beautiful natural scenery anywhere in Italy. Two laps will be completed, after which the riders will take the SS43 leading back to Mezzolombardo and then reverse the route they took earlier to return to Cressino.

Instead of turning west to go straight to Termon, they now continue north along the SP73/SP43 to Denno where they begin the stage's GPM climb, ascending 100m in around 9km over the first section of the climb and then a far stiffer 300m in 6.1km, average gradient 5%. There are two hairpins on the way to Denno (which is itself 60m higher than Mezzolombardo) and three more after it as the race progresses to Cunevo; as ever, riders who are pushed towards the tightest part of the bend will experience a much higher gradient than those further from the kerb. The climb ends at the Piazza SS Redentore in Cunevo, 86.5km from the start; there is then a short descent and short climb over the remaining 2.1km to the finish line, located at the same point as the start in Termon.

Stage 2 (Sanzeno - Sarnonico, 103.8km)
Words can't do the Santuario justice, so
here's a photo
Some Grand Tour fans, strange as it may seem, are not cycling fans - they watch the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana not in order to see the teams and riders battling to become the victors of the greatest races in cycling (the greatest in sport, some say), but for the incredible scenery that they pass through. Castles and cathedrals are as popular as the beautiful mountains, so much so that there's even a name for the arty helicopter shots of them: chateauporn. We don't get televised coverage (even without helicopters) of the Giro del Trentino (because it's a women's race and the world hasn't yet realised how great women's cycling is), but if you're fortunate enough to be able to go along and watch it and fancy some red hot architecture action, you absolutely must see Stage 2 set off from the Santuario di San Romedio - a complex of five churches, dating from 1000 to 1918, set among breathtaking mountains and joined together by a flight of steps.

Sanzeno, 3km from the Santuario and where the racing gets underway, is not without its charms either; though tiny - it has only 900 inhabitants - it's been a community since before Roman times and has many interesting old houses, a basilica and an ancient church.

View GdT2013Stage2 in a larger map

Once the neutralised zone ends, the riders begin heading north-east via Casez and Dambel on the SP24, then pass through dense forest and, shortly before emerging by a golf club, enter the circuit that will form the remainder of the race. They bypass Seio before arriving at Sarnonico, site of the 2009 National Junior Championships, continuing on the SP24 into the town, crossing the finish line to begin the first of six 15.3km laps.

The Category 2 climb also begins at the finish line with the summit located 0.6km away once the race turns south; the ascent is only 33m in total but, gained in such a short distance, the average gradient is 5.5% - and as the altimetry profile shows, it becomes considerably steeper in the final part. The riders then progress to Cavareno and onward to Romeno, then through Salter and via two hairpins to Magolo where they turn north to rejoin the SS43 and return to Romeno. Now they turn north-west and once again take the SP24 to get back to Sarnonico, taking the same route back to the finish line to begin a new lap.

It's likely that a break will form early on in the stage, very probably as soon as the neutral zone ends. Whether it gets anywhere remains to be seen: a group of strong riders could get away, increase their advantage on the climbs (the GPM climb and the one that comes before it) and then work together to preserve and potentially even widen the gap all the way to the end. However, this is a stage that gradually grinds away at the riders' energy, draining them gradually with each lap of the circuit rather than hits them with one big all-or-nothing hill or sprint: a weaker break's reserves will begin to be seriously depleted sooner or later and a strong break will be considerably weakened as the race goes on.

Please note: although great care has been taken when producing these stage maps, they should be considered to be for illustrative purposes only. If in any doubt it should be assumed that official maps and directions provided by the race organisers are correct.

Start List
Subject to change. Official list hereWomen Cycling Fever also has a regularly updated list.

Following the Race
The Giro has an official Twitter account via which organisers provide regular updates on race day, as well as various interesting snippets of information on the event, the riders and Italian cycling in general throughout the rest of the year.

2012 Photostream

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tour of Adygeya 2013

Russia, Road Race
UCI 2.2

The second of Russia's two UCI Elite Women's events, the Tour of Adygeya - like the Grand Prix of Maykop that takes place two days before the Tour begins - does not have a dedicated website, the link on the UCI calendar leading to the Russian Federation's page where its impossible for non-Russian speakers to track down any information (there is an English version, but it consists of a brief history of the Federation and has no search function). Last year, when the race took place for the first time, there were four stages; it appears that this will be the case again in 2013.


1 Alexandra Burchenkova 9h08'19"
2 Marina Likchanova +04'41"
3 Irina Molicheva +05'14"

Start List
Subject to change, more details as they become available


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Weekly Women's Cycling News 19-26.05.2013

Vos and Johansson battle in Aalburg and Gooik - Creswick wins R1, JHT GP - McQuaid promises Women's Commission - Not enough "participation and involvement of the women at grassroots-level cycling," says Martin Barras - Reports from the UK - Reports from around the world - Photo of the Week - more to come

Vos wins home race, Johansson wins Gooik
It's a well-known fact that riders have an advantage in races taking place near to their homes. Sometimes that's purely because of their desire to win in front of family and friends, sometimes - though not as commonly as was once the case - it's because their rivals don't race quite as hard as they might otherwise have done, letting a popular rider win (in days gone by, because they'd been paid to do so).

Queen Marianne of Meeuwen wins again
When that local rider is Marianne Vos, however, things are rather different - even though the Rabobank 7-Dorpenomloop van Aalburg passed through the 26-year-old's home village Meeuwen on Saturday the 25th and despite the fact that huge crowds turned out to see her (she is, after all, the most famous female cyclist in the world today, familiar even to those cycling fans who don't follow the women), Vos wins so many races that suspicions of bribes could only have arisen if she hadn't won.

The event was marred early on by a big crash which saw Sabrina Stultiens fall hard. Though she attempted to continue, she left the race later on. Annemiek van Vleuten, also of Rabobank and the winner of the Dorpenomloop last year when Vos was recovering from a broken collarbone, also crashed later in the race and, though uninjured, was left too far back to get into the seven-strong lead group that controlled the race in its later stages.

Vos was helped by the pancake-flat parcours because, although she can climb with the best in the world and regularly wins mountainous races, she's also able to keep turning the pedals at maximum RPM for kilometre after kilometre, then persuade her legs to give one last burst of power when others have given all they've got. The other teams didn't make things easy for her, though - Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) was strong in the latter parts of the race and, aided by team mate Loes Gunnewijk, kept things uncertain right into the final 10km. Vos' Rabo team mate Roxane Kneteman attacked as the race neared an end but was unable to trouble the lead group greatly; Vos did the same a short while later. Johansson was next to go and, with 5km to go, was riding out in front with Rabo's Liesbet de Vocht and, with 3km to go, they'd opened a gap of 15" between themselves and their chasers. It wasn't enough: a kilometre later, the gap was slashed to 7"; then the seven leaders were together again as the finish line came within sight - and that's when Vos did what she does best, tapping into a new reserve of the high-octane fuel that runs through her arteries to overpower her challengers and cross the line in first place, winning what is to all intents and purposes her race for the fifth time.

1 Marianne VOS (Rabo-Liv/Giant) 3h00'14"
2 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Rabo-Liv/Giant) ST
4 Amy PIETERS (Argos-Shimano) ST
5 Lauren KITCHEN (Wiggle-Honda) ST
7 Roxane KNETEMAN (Rabo-Liv/Giant) +18"
8 Vera KOEDOODER (Sengers) +02'16"
9 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabo-Liv/Giant) +02'39"
10 Nina KESSLER (Boels-Dolmans) ST
Full results 

The race
Vos wins (by Bart Hazen)

Sunday the 26th brought Belgium's Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik which, with its four big climbs including the notorious Kapelmuur, rated as the toughest climb in the country for its steep gradient and step-like cobbles, is an entirely different beast to the Dorpenomloop.

That Orica-AIS were going to do well was immediately obvious: firstly, all of their six riders got into the lead group that formed when the first climb split the peloton into several smaller groups and secondly, the Australian team is home to some of the top cobbles specialists in the world today, riders who were able to strengthen their lead when the going became rough. By the close of the Grote Ronde, the lead group contained eight riders - Emma Johansson and Tiffany Cromwell (Orica), Rosella Ratto (Hitec Products-UCK, who seem to have a rider in every lead group and break in every race this year), Katarzyna Pawlowska (GSD Gestion-Kallisto), Maaike Polspoel (Sengers), Jessie Daams (Boels-Dolmans) and Orica's biggest rivals, Rabo-Liv/Giant's Iris Slappendel and Marianne Vos.

The gap, 33" as the first local lap began, grew to just over a minute as the eight worked together, then fell to 36" when they sparred with one another during the second. In the third they worked together again and got it back to a minute. On the sixth lap, Vos attacked on a small climb near the finish line, a point that Cromwell later revealed was precisely where she and Johansson had been planning to make their move in the next and final lap, forcing them to change their tactics.

Emma Johansson
"When Marianne went, I thought ‘No. No way. I cannot go - I was really on the limit. Tiff was tired, too, but she went after her. Iris countered as soon as Marianne came back to us. She got a small gap, and I knew I had to go after her. Tiff couldn’t do it again. Even though I was cooked, I knew I had to give it everything at that moment," Johansson says, going on to explain that she fully expected Vos to bridge the small gap and take control. Yet this time, it was Vos whose reserves were exhausted and, with Polspoel bridging to join Johansson and Slappendel, she was unable to join them. During the seventh lap, the trio had put 30" between themselves and Vos' group. Slappendel attacked, forcing Johansson to expend valuable and limited energy on chasing her down before the final sprint.

"I was hurting a lot," says the Swedish rider. "I knew I could beat Iris in the sprint, but I wasn’t sure about Maaike. I went at 250 metres. I took the corner wide so neither of them could pass me on the outside, and I sprinted straight for the line after that." After taking the final bend wide to prevent Polspoel overtaking, she was too fast for the Belgian and crossed the line in first place.

"I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it to the finish in that break today, I was so cooked," Johansson told reporters. Sharing Vos' ability to overcome exhaustion and somehow persuade her body to make one final explosive effort, she's a very powerful rival to the Dutch World Champion indeed.


1 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) 3h30'11"
2 Maaike POLSPOEL (Sengers) ST
3 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
4 Tiffany CROMWELL (Orica-AIS) +48"
5 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +48"
6 Jessie DAAMS (Boels-Dolmans) +48"
7 Katarzyna PAWLOWSKA (GSD Gestion-Kallisto) +48"
8 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) +48"
9 Christine MAJERUS (Sengers) +05'50"
10 Adrie VISSER (Boels-Dolmans) +ST

Full result

Creswick wins Round 1, Johnson HealthTech GP
The Johnson HealthTech GP Series has grown and developed over the course of its existence and is now one of the best-known, most hotly-contested and popular women's events on the British cycling calendar. Running in conjunction with the men's Pearl Izumi Tour Series, the original idea was that the races would benefit from having the ready-made audience there to watch the men race; now in its third year, the GP Series attracts large numbers of fans in its own right - for many of them, getting to see the men's race too is a bonus rather than the reason to be there.

Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport
(image credit: Sigma Sport)
This year's series got underway in Stoke-on-Trent on the 21st of May, where Natalie Creswick of Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport did her bit to persuade even more people that women's cycling is every bit as exciting and interesting as men's cycling with a ride that was widely hailed as the most outstanding in either race and also netted her the Combativity Award - launching her attack soon after the competition started, she metered out her energy impeccably to stay ahead of strong challengers Hannah Barnes and Charline Joiner (both MG-Maxifuel), Jo Tindley, Gabby Day and Hannah Walker (all Matrix Fitness Race Academy), Sarah Byrne (Champion Systems-MaxGear-Base), Alice Barnes (Scott Contessa-Epic) and Hayley Jones (Node 4-Giordana) to cross the line with an advantage just short of a fill minute. Meanwhile, Creswick's team mate Louise Mahé was third.

Creswick leads Barnes in the overall Series standings with 20 points to 19. Matrix, with three riders in the top ten, were the winning team for the round and Hannah Walker won the Sprints. Matrix lead the overall team standings with 45 points, Mulebar and MG-Maxifuel are second and third with 38 points apiece.

 Highlights of the race will be broadcast on ITV4 at 10pm on the 22nd of May.

One chuffed @NatCres doing her team @MuleBarGirl proud winning @JHTUK GP series last night in Stoke. #womenscycling

Natalie blogs about her victory.

Result, Round 1
1. Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport)
2. Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel)
3. Louise Mahé (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport)
4. Jo Tindley (Matrix Fitness Race Academy)
5. Sarah Byrne (Champion Systems-Maxgear-Base)
6. Gabby Day (Matrix Fitness Race Academy)
7. Charline Joiner (MG-Maxifuel)
8. Hannah Walker (Matrix Fitness Race Academy)
9. Alice Barnes (Scott Contessa Epic)
10. Hayley Jones (Node4-Giordana)
Full Round 1, Overall and other classification standings

Next Rounds
Round 2  30th May (Colchester)
Round 3  4th June (Redditch)
Round 4  11th June (Woking)
Round 5  13th June (Aylsham)

McQuaid promises Women's Cycling Commission
There have been calls from riders (including Emma Pooley, who has used her fame as a platform to be very vocal on the subject), team officials and fans for a dedicated body to oversee the development of women's cycling for some years now, with many people accusing the UCI of showing little concern for the sport.

Money talks, and fans = money With existing fans becoming more vocal in their support and large numbers of new fans following the sport after the enormous success of the Women's Road Race at the Olympics, it seems that cycling's governing body has decided that the time is right to listen to those demands: president Pat McQuaid has revealed that if re-elected to the post for a third term, he'll create a new Women's Commission at the UCI's annual conference this September.

Will it be given the money and powers it needs if it's going to set right decades of neglect and turn women's cycling into the popular, profitable sport that it could be? Over to you, Pat.

Cash grants for four American projects aiming to get women cycling
$7,500 (£4,944 or €5,809) isn't a huge amount of cash in the big scheme of things - the toilet roll holders on Team Sky's tour coach probably cost more* - but shares of it are enough to make a massive difference to not-for-profit organisations working to get more women onto bikes or teaching them to be bike mechanics, such as the four recipients of grants made by the League of American Bicyclist's Women Bike program.

The four organisations are We Are All Mechanics of Madison, Wisconsin ($1,500); Girl Scouts On Wheels (part of Women Bike PHL) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ($1,500); Women On Wheels In Spanish at the Marin County Bicycle Federation ($2,500) and Engaging Latina Women Through Bilingual Outreach and Resources of WE Bike, NYC ($2,000).

"We want to make sure the best efforts take root and serve as examples for the rest of the nation," says the League's Women Bike director of communications Carolyn Szczepanski.

*OK, possibly rather than probably.

Are YOU: A; Australian, B; Fast?
Fancy joining McCulloch and Meares on
the podium?
If you're female and your answer is yes to both questions or even "No, but I live there" to A and "Not yet, but I'm going to be" to B, then consider getting in touch with and joining your local cycling club - because they're being encouraged by National Cycling Team coach Martin Barras to make sure they offer more of what female cyclists need and want in an effort to guarantee the country has a new generation of world-beating riders ready to race with Anna Meares, Chloe Hosking, Kaarle McCulloch and the rest.

"The battleground for us is very much the detection and development level, we're still not seeing enough participation and involvement of the women at grassroots-level cycling," Barras says. "It's not good enough to just open the doors and hope that women are going to come in. You have to go and seek them, make it inviting for them to get them into the sport, then you have to look after them as well. It's not good enough to send out women and say 'you're going to train with guys and that's going to be good enough and interesting and make for a great experience', it needs to be … more specific."

Chances are you won't be riding alongside Hosking as she takes on Marianne Vos and Giorgia Bronzini at the Giro Rosa next year, but you might - and you'll have a lot of fun finding out.

Recommended reports from the Web
Herne Hill Women's Track Cycling  (Track Cycling News)
Raising the Barr - Jane Barr's rise to the top (Herald Scotland)


[Australian] National Women's Cycling Team ready to roll (Adelaide Now)
Ukrainian Milavitsa amateur race will take place in 2013 (Ukrainian News)
"It’s like the government is saying, “Look, we’re giving you something! Shut up, women!” - Saudi Arabia isn't having a feminist revolution (
Marijn de Vries on crashing (Marijn's blog)
Q&A with Elly Blue, Feminist Bike Activist and Independent Media Titan (DC StreetsBlog, USA)
Robin Farina: We can benefit from men's circuit (ESPN-W)
Female cycling athletes compete with men for first time in USA championships (
Cycling's Occupational Hazard - Amber Neben on crashing (Wall Street Journal)
Bike-themed festival kicks off with Boston woman’s tale (Boston Globe)
Largest ever women's field for third round of [Benchmark Homes] cycling series (Yahoo Sport)
“Paris Roubaix? That would be awesome” Marianne Vos on MTB and the future (CX Magazine)
Afghan Women's Cycling Team is working all the gears (Green Prophet)
Top Five Worst Arguments Against Promoting Equality in Pro Cycling: It's Not Worth It (Women Cyclists)
Finegan wins at Victoria Country road cycling championships (Bendigo Advertiser)

Photo of the Week
Boels-Dolmans Ladies
(image by Pauliena Rooijakkers)

Emakumeen Euskal Bira 2013

06-09.06.2013 Official Site
Euskadi/Spain, Four stages, 296.9km
UCI 2.1

Once upon a time there were three Grand Tours in women's cycling, just as there are three in men's cycling. They were the Grand Boucle (also known as the Tour de France Féminin, Grand Boucle also being a nickname for the men's Tour de France), the Tour de l'Aude Cycliste Féminin and the Giro d'Italia Femminile (better known as the Giro Donne and now renamed the Giro Rosa).

The Tour de France Féminin was last held in 2009, by which time a lack of sponsorship had left it a pale shadow of its former self - trimmed down to just four stages (in 1985, when Maria Canins won, there had been 17 and a prologue), only 66 riders started and winner Emma Pooley joked ruefully that it had become the Petite Boucle. The Tour de l'Aude Cycliste Féminin, which had grown from four stages to ten and developed into perhaps the most beautiful women's race of them all, went the same way for the same reason a year later. Then only the Giro Rosa was left (and it came close to disappearing in 2012, too; fortunately, new organisers and sponsors came onboard and the race has been saved).

Fans, riders and team officials are united in wanting more women's Grand Tours; either new versions of those that have vanished, completely new events or bigger, better versions of races that already take place. The third option is the most practical for three main reasons: an experienced organising committee is already in place, the race has an established name that fans already know and those same fans already look forward to the race. How would such a new Grand Tour be developed? Simple, really: as ever, it's down to money - money from the UCI (and all indicators suggest they could afford it), then even more money from sponsors once the sport gets that financial kickstart and begins to look more attractive to the bean-counting suits who get to decide whether a company is going to sponsor something or not (sadly, very few companies genuinely care about women's sports; one example is Boels - everything between this set of parantheses exists merely to give mention to them, simply because they deserve it for being as willing as they are to put money into women's cycling when so many other firms are not).

That leaves one question: which races would be a good choice for development? Why not copy men's cycling's example and have one in Italy (as is the case), one in France (La Route de France, which has massive unrealised potential) and one in Spain? The Emakumeen Bira would be a fantastic choice for the Spanish Grand Tour: imagine that it was given the funds to expand to ten stages with four in the autonomous Basque Country of Northern Spain, two in the stunningly gorgeous Haute Pyrenees, then four in the French Pyrénées-Atlantiques Basque region Iparralde - what a superb showcase not just for women's cycle but for professional cycling in general that would be.

One day, perhaps. In the meantime, the Bira is already a superb race with a unique character all of its own; so enough of that for now and let's have a look at the 2013 race. (Oh, and by the way - the organisers are superb, too. When I emailed them to ask for details of the race, they sent back large scale profiles and route guides from the race manual. Thanks, Roberto!)

Past Winners 
1988 Imma De Carlos, 1989 Maria Mora, 1990 Josune Gorostidi, 1991 Joane Somarriba, 1992 Lenka Ilavská, 1993 Elena Barillová, 1994 Elena Barillová, 1995 Jeannie Longo, 1996 Teodora Ruano, 1997 Hanka Kupfernagel, 1998 Hanka Kupfernagel, 1999 Hanka Kupfernagel, 2000 Leontien van Moorsel, 2001 Joane Somarriba, 2002 Edita Pučinskaitė, 2003 Mirjam Melchers, 2004 Joane Somarriba, 2005 Svetlana Bubnenkova, 2006 Fabiana Luperini, 2007 Susanne Ljungskog, 2008 Marianne Vos, 2009 Judith Arndt, 2010 Claudia Häusler, 2011 Marianne Vos, 2012 Judith Arndt.

The Parcours
Like mountains, do you? I'm guessing almost certainly so because all cycling fans like mountains, and for that reason you'll be pleased to know that this race has mountains. Proper ones in the Pyrenees, with the first categorised climb - a Cat 3 (and the Bira organisers don't tend to use quite so much poetic licence when categorising the climbs as organisers at some other races do) - comes in the first 60km of the first stage. Don't go thinking that an ace grimpeur such as Pooley, Vos or Moolman is a sure-fire winner though (on the other hand, any one of those three could very well win), because this parcours has been cleverly designed to include plenty of opportunities for other kinds of riders to push their names a few places up the General Classification listings each day.

Stage 1 (Iurreta-Iuretta, 06.06, 91.3km)
Click to enlarge
Many roads and locations in the Bira will be familiar from its sister race the Emakumeen Saria, which takes place two days earlier. Among them is Iurreta, where Stage 1 begins by the car park at 14 Maspe Kalea with 200 flat, straight metres to a tight right turn leading onto the N-634 heading east. The route climbs slightly to the next junction, where the riders turn right to head south over a level crossing to pass Matiena before continuing past a large industrial estate (where, as is always the case on any road regularly used by heavy trucks, there's a possibility of hazardous diesel spills on the road surface) and on to Abadino, where the terrains begins to climb more steeply - nevertheless, expect early attempts to break away from the peloton as those riders who aren't here to do battle on the mountains to come try to get into a position to bag the best points at the first intermediate sprint, 10.5km from the start on the San Fausto Kalea leading into Elorrio.

The race turns north and keeps climbing, reaching a point 250m above sea level some 13.8km from the start in the woods between Elorrio and Miota. At Olakueta, the road passes under the AP-8 motorway before leading into the village, then the riders immediately follow a bend to the left and travel back under the motorway to rejoin the N-634 which will take them downhill via Eitua and Matiena and back into Iurreta at 22.5km. It's downhill for the next 5.8km to Euba, then an easy climb gains 50m over 6.5km en route to Gumuzio where the race leaves the N-634 behind and heads north to Larrabetzu. Another climb, without GPM points, begins here and gains approximately 100m in 3.7km to Astoreka 44.9km from the start; the ascent isn't tough enough to give the climbers any serious advantage but the descent, which drops 150m in 4.9km to Fika and is considerably steeper than the average gradient of -3% in places, may put them at a disadvantage - something any heavier riders, who are able to maintain better control on a descent than the featherweight grimpeurs, will have noted.

Euskadi has many industrialised areas, some of which are
visited on this stage, which has enabled it to remain more
prosperous than Spain during the current recession.
However, modern and ancient sit comfortably side-by-side
and there is much to interest tourists, such as the medieval
buildings in Elorrio.
However, at the end of the less steep descent over the next 3.5km to Elgezabal, the tables are turned when the race arrives at the first categorised climb - a Cat. 3 ascent of 160m in 3.3km, average gradient 4.8km and steeper in places. This climb, being approximately two-thirds into the parcours with more climbs to go, might turn out to be decisive: if a good all-rounder (which could happen; the grimpeurs could decide to save energy for the bigger climbs in later stages, and this isn't a hugely taxing climb) or a climber who didn't lag behind on the descents earlier on (and doesn't do so on the one just ahead either) gets to the top at Arritugane, 57.7km from the start, first they may do so with a sufficient lead on the pack to stay away for the remainder of the stage. If not, the descent - 150m in 3.5km at -4.3% - is opportunity for the pack to reduce a leader's advantage.

There's a flat section of around 3.7km between Derio and Zamudio which will see some jostling for position because as the parcours starts to climb again at Lezama, 68.9km from the start, the riders arrive at the second intermediate sprint. The route passes through Larrabetzu again at 72km, then Gumuzio at 79.5km where it rejoins the N-634. The next 6.5km to Euba descend gently, then the final 5.3km climbs around 50m to carry the peloton back to Iurreta and the finish line at the same location as the start on Maspe Kalea.

Stage 2 (Aretxabaleta-Aretxabaleta, 07.06, 103.5km)

Yesterday, the riders faced climbs right from the start; today is entirely different with hardly any climbing at all in the first 39km. There's no reason to think this is a sprinters' stage, though: that long, flat section terminates with a Cat. 3 ascent and then, in the final 20km, there's a harsh Cat. 1 gaining 350m in 6km at an average gradient of 5.8% with several steeper bits on the way to the summit. If a climber can leave the pack behind on the way there, she'll only have to stay away 15.5km to win the stage - but the descent over the next 9.5km is steep too, and many climbers don't like descents. Add a far more gentle descent over the final 6km back into Aretxabala into the equation and the eventual outcome is far from certain.

Aretxabaleta is around 11km south (as the crow flies) from Elorrio, the southernmost point of Stage 1, and the race begins there at 32 Durana Kalea. The riders first take a complex route south-west via Errota Barri to Eskoriatza and then back to Aretxabaleta, north to Arrasate, back to Aretxabaleta (with the first intermediate sprint at 18.5km, hence probable breaks in the first section) and Erroto Barri again and north once more to return to Arrasate after 25km before heading north-east, then south-east to Onati.

View of Kurtzebarri from Aretxabalete across Apotzaga
Just east of Onati is the Cat. 3 climb, complete with four hairpin bends in the forest on the way up - if you're lucky enough to be able to visit the race, the second hairpin is a very good place to watch it go by due to a spectacular view of the mountains (the third bend is a better choice if you want to paint riders' names on the road, though). Following a descent likely to be too short for the pack to catch up with leading climbers, the race reaches Legazpi 50km from the start and begin a less taxing climb of 100m in 5km; the descent that comes after it loses 300m in a little under 7km on the way to Bergara and could see the climbers lose time, giving the others time to catch up on the far gentler incline over the next 20km via San Prudentzio, Arrasate (with the second intermediate sprint at 73km), Aretxabalete and Eskoriatza. After 81.5km, the parcours turns right at Aingeru Guarda and heads to Marulanda, beginning the Cat. 1 climb at 85km; the summit and GPM points are 3km ahead.

Although the climb is sufficiently challenging to make it entirely possible for a climber to get away and build up a lead, the descent has the potential to change everything - in parts, it's much steeper than the average gradient of -4.5%. After arriving back at Eskoriatza, there are 6km of far less steep descending via Aretxabaleta and Mugarri, then back to Aretxabaleta to reach the finish line located at the same point as the start on Durana Kalea.

Stage 3 (Orduna-Orduna, 08.06, 13.4km Time Trial)
Time trials are usually fairly flat - but there isn't much flat space in Euskadi and this is the Emakumeen Bira, so this time trial has around 300m of climbing along its 13.4km.

The stage gets underway at Orduna's grand Foru Enparantza, a civic square that looks as though it belongs to Bilbao, Paris, Rome or one of Europe's other great cities rather than to what is, despite its official city status, a town of only a little over 4,000 people; and it leaves by heading west out of the city along narrow streets and then turning north to join the Tras Santiago Bidea for a straight 0.7km section to the next turn - a good place for those riders who know they'll be slower than the climbers on the two hills later in the stage to get their heads down and bank a few seconds. The Arbieto Auzoa leads off to the right, continuing for 0.45km to a sweeping right-hand bend; as it passes the car park for the football ground on the left (football being another Basque passion), it begins to climb. Just around the bend the road becomes the Vista Alegre Auzoa and the riders stay on it for 0.5km, traveling south to a sharp left turn leading into a gently curving 0.3km section that begins to climb from 0.15km, bcoming steeper in the final third prior to a very tight right onto the Ibazura Auzoa. The following 0.7km section is straight but climbs steeply in the first half, giving the climbers a chance to gain time on their rivals; it descends gradually in the second half but riders will need to brake towards the end in order to take the extremely tight right turn leading into the next section, a steep 0.3km descent ending with a 90-degree left turn at a crossroads. They climb gradually for the next 0.3km to arrive at a junction between three roads where they turn left again, heading uphill along the Aloria Entitatea for half a kilometre to another crossroads where they turn right and continue south for 0.86km, crossing another crossroads on the way to a left onto the BI-4907. Climbing for the next 0.7km brings them to a tight right turn just north of the little village Artomana, followed by a 0.5km descent to a left at a crossroads and a straight 1.68km section along the Artomana Entitatea - it descends in the first half, then climbs slightly in the second and the view at the end, where Delika nestles among the mountains all around, is remarkable.

Delika Canyon
A surprisingly high percentage of cycling fans say they don't like time trials. Some of them say this is because a stage races can be all too easily won with a good trial time, which is a fair accusation - nobody wants to see a rider who hasn't performed well in other stages snatch victory from a rider who has on the back of one short stage (well, unless it's Fabian Cancellara, since we all love him) but the majority aren't able to give a reason, disliking them for some other reason that they perhaps don't know for themselves. I'm willing to hazard a guess that, for a good few of those in the latter category, it's because time trials aren't usually routed along roads chosen to show off an area's natural and architectural beauty, as other stages tend to be - and we all love professional cycling as much for the places as much as for the sport, hence the "chateau porn" at the Tour de France. This isn't going to be a problem in the Bira because this time trial goes past one of Europe's most incredible and surprisingly not very well-known landscapes - the vast Delika Canyon, carved out of the rock over millions of years by the Nervion River that plunges 300m into it, creating one of the world's most spectacular waterfalls. Just a pity the race won't be televised so we could see it, isn't it?

Turning left leads them along the BI-4906 into Delika and they follow the road as it curves through the town, then negotiate a left-left-right series of corners to lead onto a bridge crossing a railway on the way out of town. The road climbs for 0.2km en route to a right turn, beginning the 2.48km section to Tertango; the first kilometre is mostly downhill, but there's a short and steep climb through the woods over the next 0.25km before more downhill in the final kilometre. At a T-junction just east of Tertanga the riders turn right (they'll be glad they don't go left - there's a series of seven hairpin bends carrying the road 200m upwards 2km further south) and begin heading back to Orduna. The first part is o.63km in length and downhill, passing under a railway bridge on its way to a left turn at a roundabout that leads into a 0.3km flat section along a new road, ending at another roundabout and a right turn onto the Gama Erripdea - the first 0.26km is wide, but it becomes far narrower over the final 0.6km leading past the bull ring (the Basques, fine people that they are, unfortunately share the Spaniards' love of torturing cattle to death) and into the city. Just beyond the left turn at the bull ring is a 0.34km section along the straight and wide Barrio San Francisco; it ends at a junction of roads followed by a final 0.16km along very narrow streets leading back to the Foru Enparantza.

Stage 4 (Fruiz-Gatika, 09.06, 88.7km)
There are 24km at the start of this stage - with both intermediate sprints falling within it, at 10 and 23.2km - before the rest of the race is handed over to the climbers to decide the outcome of the stage and, unless anybody managed to build up an unbeatable lead earlier on, the final overall General Classification: there are five big climbs in the last 63km, including one Cat. 3 and two Cat. 2s, as well as an uphill approach to the finish, making it a stage that needs to be ridden intelligently - if a rider uses up too much energy on the first couple of climbs (an easy thing to do after the last three stages), she could very easily burn out on the Cat. 2s and fall several places down the GC list.

The first 5km is downhill, then the terrain rises gently over the next five to the beginning of the first intermediate sprint at the Cafe Lekuona in Maruri-Jatabe; a situation likely to encourage early breakaways with domestiques battling one another for valuable points while the climbers and GC contenders preserve themselves for later. The following 6.8km is flat, then another gentle leads 3.8km to take the riders for the first time to Gatika, where another downhill section of 2.6km will probably see more attempts to break away as the race approaches the second intermediate sprint 23.2km from the start at Mungia - and, so far as those riders who can't keep up with the real mountain goats are concerned, that's the end of the race: from this point onwards, it's mountains all the way. The first, an uncategorised ascent of approximately 110m over 5km, leads to Meñaka, more a collection of hillside micro-hamlets than a village. The descent isn't particularly challenging but provides an opportunity for climbers who don't fear descending to gain a lead over those that do on the way to the next climb, a Cat. 3 175m in 5.4km ascent with an average gradient of 3.2% but much steeper in parts. The descent, lasting for 14.1km, takes the race into Gernika, the Basque spelling of Guernica - the town that was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1937, an event that inspired Picasso's most famous (and, by far, most disturbing) painting.

The next climb, beginning at Gernika, is one of the most difficult in the race and, in the right circumstances, may even prove to the pivotal point that decides the winner. Rising 275m in 5km at an average gradient of 5.5%, a rider able to make a solo break to the top might be able to build up enough of a lead to stay away on the next climbs and get to the finish line alone. There's a descent over the next 4.2km to Atxika, followed by another climb which, at 75m in 4.9km, doesn't look much on paper but the fact that it's rated at Cat.2 suggests some sections much steeper than the 1.5% average gradient and some very difficult road surfaces; the name of the village at the top of the climb, Arrieta, comes from the Basque word harrieta, meaning scree - extremely slippery and abrasive stuff when it collects on bends and corners. With that in mind the descent, 175m in 2.7km (average gradient -6.4%), begins to look rather like it might be the most dangerous section anywhere along the parcours since the race started in Iurreta and the riders will need to tackle it with very great care.

Butroeko Gaztelua
There is still one considerable, if uncategorised, climb to go. Beginning at the foot of the Arrieta descent at Ibarra some 71.1km from the start, it gains 100m in 5.2km; an average gradient less than 2% but sufficiently steep to potentially affect the leadership order so near to the end of a mountainous stage. It leads back to Meñaka, where a 7.4km route differing to the one taken earlier continues back to Maruri and to the last uphill 5km section to the finish line at Gatika, a town famous for Butroeko Gaztelua, Butron Castle - which looks so much like a medieval castle is romantically supposed to look (a grand palace for a benevolent lord and place of refuge for his subjects), as opposed to how they actually look (grim expressions of military power also intended to suppress any revolutionary ideas among the peasants) that it seems too good to be true. And in fact it is - although it really is a medieval castle, it was extensively and radically remodeled by a romantically-minded 19th Century architect and marquis Francisco de Cubas, who made it look like a Bavarian mountain castle (that it manages to do so despite being surrounded by distinctly non-Bavarian palm trees is evidence that the Marquis knew what he was doing).

Subject to change.

1 Emma Johansson
2 Tiffany Cromwell
3 Shara Gillow
4 Loes Gunnewijk
5 Annette Edmondson
6 Amanda Spratt

11 Ashleigh Moolman
12 Carlee Taylor
13 Marijn de Vries
14 Ann-Sophie Duyck
15 Kaat Hannes
16 Sharon Laws

Hitec Products-UCK
21 Elisa Longo Borghini
22 Emilia Fahlin
23 Mirian Bjornsrud
24 Rachel Neylan
25 Rossella Ratto
26 Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen

Faren-Let's Go Finland
31 Marta Bastianelli
32 Elena Cecchini
33 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau
34 Fabiana Luperini
35 Sara Mustonen
36 Patricia Schwager

Michela Fanini-ROX
41 Edwige Pitel
42 Liisi Rist
43 Katia Barazna
44 Mireia Epelde
45 Lara Viecel
46 Jutattip Maneephan

51 Emma Crum
52 Belen Lopez
53 Yulia Ilinykh
54 Eider Merino
55 Elena Utrobina
56 Alexia Muffar

61 Madelene Olsson
62 Jessica Kihlborn
63 Isabelle Soderberg
64 Hanna Nilsson
65 Martina Thomasson
66 Linnea Sjoblom

Cyclelive Plus-Zannata
71 Carla Ryan
72 Annelies van Doorslaer
73 Latoya Brulee
74 Annelies Dom
75 Monique van der Ree
76 Liz Hatch

Fassa Bortolo
81 Elena Berlato
82 Silvia Cecchini
83 Jennifer Fiori
84 Francesca Cauz
85 Chiara Pierobon
86 Francesca Stefani

91 Anna Sanchis
92 Joane Hogan
93 Ane Santestaban
94 Dorleta Eskamendi
95 Mayalen Noriega
96 Lourdes Oyarbide

101 Evelyn Stevens
102 Ellen van Dijk
103 Trixi Worrack
104 Ina-Yoko Teutenberg
105 Lisa Brennauer
106 Katie Colclough

111 Sarah-Lena Hofmann
112 Laura van der Kamp
113 Anouska Koster
114 Mieke Kroeger
115 Mascha Pijnenborg
116 Stephanie Pohl

121 Marianne Vos
122 Annemiek van Vleuten
123 Lucinda Brand
124 Megan Guarnier
125 Thalita de Jong
126 Pauline Ferrand-Prevot

Pasta Zara-Cogeas
131 Rosella Callovi
132 Inga Cilvinaite
133 Evelyn Garcia
134 Edita Janeliunate
135 Martina Ruzickova
136 Lorena Vargas

141 Lizzie Armsitstead
142 Martina Bras
143 Jessie Daams
144 Romy Kasper
145 Adrie Visser
146 Marieke Vanroij

151 Noemi Cantele
152 Simona Frapporti
153 Silvia Valsecchi
154 Alena Amialiusik
155 Daniela Levi
156 Alice Algisi

161 Charlotte Becker
162 Janneke Busser
163 Willeke Knol
164 Elke Gebhardt
165 Amy Pieters
166 Kirsten Wild

171 Anna van der Breggen
172 Julia Soek
173 Maaike Polspoel
174 Sofie de Vuyst
175 Christine Majerus
176 Evelyne Arijs

How To Follow The Race
The first point of call for race information is obviously the official race website - Bira organisers do a better job of keeping it all up-to-date than the organisers of, shall we say, some other races that took place over the last few weeks. Regular readers of this site will already be familiar with Karl Lima, the manager of the Hitec Products-UCK team - Karl somehow finds the time while following his riders at races to provide regular and detailed Tweets. Many fans rely on him to keep them informed as to what's going on in races and he's very much worth following. Anton Vos, brother of World Champion Marianne, also attends the big races in his capacity as a photographer, as does photographer and journalist Bart Hazen - both are also top-value Twitter follows.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Weekly Women's Cycling News 13-19.05.2013

Tour Languedoc Roussillon cancellation - Wiggo rides like a girl - Neben injured - YOU can help make a women's cycling documentary - Inequality in BMX - Inequality in California - Afghan Women's Team organiser wins award - Rowsell to lead Manchester ride - Ipswich Johnson HealthTech round relocated to Redditch - Abbott back in the saddle - Bano wins Pakistan Nats - more news - Photo of the Week

Tour Languedoc Roussillon cancelled... then reinstated
"What a scandal!" tweeted Martine Bras
The biggest news of the week is the cancellation of the Tour Languedoc Roussillon - announced the day before the race was due to begin, when numerous teams were either already at the start town on en route, causing much anger among riders and fans alike. The precise reason for the cancellation hasn't yet been made clear with some claims that local police had stopped the event while others suggested financial problems. The latter seems most likely to be true as the race was reinstated a day later, reduced by one stage and shortened in length, after a new sponsor was reportedly found. Nevertheless, some teams - including Rabobank, who later listed "just a few reasons" for their decision - declined to go ahead as an act of protest.

Since the Languedoc-Roussillon organisers don't have the best reputation in cycling (having cancelled last year's edition a fortnight before the start, which also created problems for the teams), this raises an even more important and, for those organisers, extremely awkward question: why didn't they tell anyone that they were experiencing difficulties at an earlier date? Women's professional cycling teams operate on budgets that are mere pocket money when compared to those enjoyed by men's teams and the cost of getting a team, bikes, team officials, team car and so on to a race in the first place accounts for a large percentage of that; cancelling a race with so little notice could bring one of the poorer teams close to bankruptcy. If they have lost money, will they be recompensed? The organisers have no money, so it'd be down to the UCI. That, for many fans, equals "no they won't."

Finally, one of the most shocking aspects of the story less than a year after the world started to take notice of women's cycling at the Olympics, is that the news has been almost entirely overlooked by the media with most of the well-known cycling news websites ignoring it entirely.

The Unofficial Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling Blog has much more on what the news means for women's cycling.
More from Bridie O'Donnell.
(See also: Photo of the Week, at the bottom of this page)

Wiggo rides like a girl - he wishes!
Bradley Wiggins (no medieval honorifics on this blog, comrades) has kicked up a bit of a stink by explaining his loss of time at the Giro d'Italia thus: "I descended like bit of a girl really after the crash."

"Oh, but Wiggo won a Tour!"
some fans may argue. True.
However,so did Luperini.
Three times.
Throwaway comment? Perhaps, but a very stupid one all the same - especially since Wiggins put some of his own money towards backing British-registered pro women's team Wiggle-Honda, who've been doing more than their fair share of work to try to raise awareness of women's cycling. Let's hope team boss Rochelle Gilmore has a little word.

Or perhaps what Wiggo meant to say was "If I'd descended like a girl after the crash, I'd have still had a chance of winning." After all, if he really did ride like a girl he might actually have won the Giro, just like Fabiana Luperini won the Giro Donne five times.

The price of forgiveness? An admission that he's been a bit stupid and another few thousand for Wiggle-Honda ought to do the trick, I reckon.

Neben breaks hip and ribs
Current US National Time Trial Champion Amber Neben will be unable to defend her title on the 25th of May after a bad crash at the Tour of California left her with a fractured hip and cracked ribs. The 38-year-old was caught by a strong crosswind on a steep descent, putting her out of her line as she went into a corner. Braking the caused her to skid off the road where she collided with a cliff and hit the ground hard.

"Bummer. This hurts literally and figuratively. I'll recover, though... Believe it or not, there can be positive stuff that comes out of adversity," she told reporters afterwards.

Wanna see a women's cycling documentary?
Would you like to see a documentary film about women's cycling and the issues that surround it? Of course you would - and with a little help from your wallet, Kathryn Bertine can make it happen.

"HALF THE ROAD is a documentary film that explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on both the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequality that modern-day female riders face in a male dominated sport. With footage from some of the world’s best international UCI races to interviews with Olympians, World Champions, rookies, coaches, managers, officials, doctors and family members, HALF THE ROAD offers a unique insight to the drive, dedication, and passion it takes for female cyclists to thrive.  Both on and off the bike, the voices and advocates of women’s pro cycling take their audience on a journey of enlightenment, depth, strength, love, humor and best of all, change & growth."

Any donations, in any currency, are welcomed; donations of $50 or greater will get the donor's name in the film credits.

Other reports
Cycling sexism: BMX bandits steal money from women
"At the 2013 BMX Nationals held in Brisbane last week, female competitors received half the prize money of male riders in the main event..." (Herald Sun, Australia)

Stevens, van Garderen call for equal footing for women’s racing
"The one-day-a-year spotlight the women racers get at the Amgen Tour of California is wonderful. Just not wonderful enough. Not hardly." (VeloNews)

Afghan National Women's Team organiser wins prestigious award
Shannon Galpin, founder of a charity that provides aid to women in war zones and one of the main figures behind the newly-organised Afghanistan Women's Cycling Team, has been awarded the National Geographic Humanitarian of the Year Award. More from the Huffington Post.

Joanna Rowsell to lead out Great Manchester Cycle
"The Olympic gold medal track cyclist will be leading out this year's Great Manchester Cycle on Sunday June 30." (Road.CC)

Ipswich round of Johnson HealthTech GP relocated to Redditch
More from Eastern Daily Times

Mara Abbott finds her way back to road
More from ESPN-W

Raheela Bano wins Pakistan Nationals
More from The News, Lahore

More News
Pendleton hails rising popularity of women's cycling (GiveMeSport)
More Pendlenews (AllMediaScotland)
CTC: 'Why we launched an elite women's race team' (BikeBiz)
Sexism is endemic in cycling. Keep calm ladies and ride on (Daily Telegraph)

Pedal-pushers hail new Woodstock women's bike race (, NY, USA)
Good performance from Cuba in PanAmerican women’s cycling championships (Granma, Cuba)

Photo of the Week
Riders stage a sit-down protest at the Tour Languedoc Roussillon
Tweeted by Lotto-Belisol Ladies

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Grand Prix of Maykop 2013

04.06.2013 Official Site
Russia, One-day Road Race
UCI 1.2

With most of the Elite Women keeping themselves busy at Chongming Island and Gooik-Geraardsbergen, the Grand Prix of Maykop was given over entirely to riders from the ex-Soviet nations when it was held for the first time on the 13th of May in 2012: out of the ten riders first over the line, nine were Russian (including all the first seven); all the other riders to take part were either Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian or Lithuanian. This led to the race losing its UCI points due to a failure to satisfy Article 2.1.003 in the UCI rules, "To be able to be registered on the international calendar, a race must guarantee the participation of at least 5 foreign teams. A mixed team is regarded as a foreign team if the majority of its riders are of foreign nationality."

The race takes place some three weeks later in early June this year, which probably had the organisers hoping for a more international field - unfortunately, it now clashes with the Emakumeen Saria which, as important preparation for the Emakumeen Bira in addition to being an important and prestigious race in its own right, is likely to attract more riders than Maykop can, possibly leaving the Russian race in the same situation. With so many races having vanished forever in the last couple of years it'd be a great pity if this one did the same after only two years.

However, the organisers might find that their event generated a lot more interest if they made some information available now that there's less than a month to go until it takes place. Over an hour spent on Google has turned up nothing other than the results from last year - no map, news or anything at all, even on the official website (which would be of much more use to a great many cycling fans in this world if the English version didn't have such limited information and functionality, incidentally).

Anyway, I'll add any details I can find here when (and if) I find them.

Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria 2013

04.06.2013 Official Site
Basque Country/Spain, One-day Road Race, 110km
UCI 1.2

After spending much of the last month visiting far-flung targets of the UCI's attempts to globalise professional cycling, the Elite Women's peloton returns to Europe for a race in what may be the only nation where the population's adoration of cycling rivals that of the Belgians - the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria, a one-day race taking place in the ancient Basque Country.

Basque rider Joane Sommariba won in 2004, the first time that the race was held as a UCI 1.2 event, repeating her successes of 2003 and 2002 when it was a UCI 1.9.2 race, as it had been since 2001 when the Italian Sara Felloni won the very first edition. Miriam Melchers began the process of making the Netherlands the most successful nation in the history of the 1.2 race (three victories) when she won in 2005, then Susanne Ljungskog became the first and only Swedish winner in 2006 and in 2007 there was another first when Edita Pučinskaitė was the only Lithuanian to have won. In 2008 the race didn't take place, but Noemi Cantele continued the trend and became the first Italian winner in 2009. In 2010 the inevitable happened - Marianne Vos won; when she won again in 2011 she became the only rider to have won the 1.2 race twice and finished off what Melchers had started back in 2005 and, in 2012, Britain got its first podium when Emma Pooley won.

The Parcours

C/O Velofocus. View Durango Saria in a larger map

The parcours will follow the same 110km route as in 2012 with four laps of a circuit from Durango to Elorrio (taking in a steep climb and fast descent on each) followed by one final lap including two Cat. 2 climbs to an altitude of 385m, ending back at Durango.

Start List
Subject to change



Bizkaia Durango


Hitec Products-UCK




86 MOOLMAN Ashleigh


S.C. Michela Fanini-ROX

Faren-Let's Go Finland

Top Fassa Bortolo



151 CANTELE, Noemi

How To Follow The Race
As ever, Hitec Products-UCK manager Karl Lima, Boels-Dolmans mechanic Richie Steege and photographer Anton Vos (who also happens to be Marianne's brother) are the people to follow for live race updates.