Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Women's Cycling News 9-16.06.2013

Women's Cycling News You Might Have Missed

Johansson wins the Bira - JHT GP: Barnes wins Woking, Day wins Aylsham - Barnes also wins controversial Nocturne - British Cycling boss Cookson to stand for UCI presidency - New US MTB race seeks to even up pay disparity - Interesting Links - Elite Women Results - Photo of the Week - more to come...

Johansson bosses Vos at Bira
Emma Johansson, 2013 Emakumeen Bira victor
Rabo-Liv/Giant's Marianne Vos is widely considered the most successful cyclist in the world, so when she won Stage 1 at the Emakumeen Bira much of the women's cycling world sat back and waited for what very often seems to be inevitable - Marianne's total domination of the race. However, Marianne's incredible success has not negatively affected the sport by reducing competition as some commentators suggested it might: in fact, the opposite is true and, just as Helen Wyman wisely argued in January 2012, competition has become stronger as other riders have stepped up their efforts to take on the current World Champion.

One of those riders is Emma Johansson, who moved from Hitec Products to Orica-AIS for 2013 and has been no stranger to the podiums this year, proving herself a very strong adversary to Vos in the process and beating her at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik in May. The Swede got into a break with Orica team mate Tiffany Cromwell, old Hitec team mate Elisa Longo Borghini and Vos during Stage 2, leaving the pack behind shortly after the middle point of the stage as heavy rain created treacherous conditions. At the final climb, Johansson and Longo Borghini were able to split the break and began heading towards the finish together.

With Vos marooned away from helpers and with Longo Borghini having used up more energy due to not benefiting from the assistance of a team mate in the earlier break, this seemed an ideal situation for Johansson, but she knows that Vos must never be underestimated. "Elisa and I knew we had to go at it together. We couldn’t start playing games. We needed to try to keep the distance between us and the chasers as big as possible. We knew Marianne would take risks on the descent, but we played it safe. We worked together all the way to the line," she explained after the stage.

Elisa Longo Borghini, a rider heading
for the top of the sport...
Stage 1 had ended with a bunch sprint, meaning that although Johansson had finished 18 places behind Vos the Dutch woman had started Stage 2 without a time advantage; when Longo Borghini took second place Johansson now found herself with a very valuable 26" overall lead - and Stage 3 was to be an individual time trial, a discipline at which by her own admission Vos doesn't excel (her palmares suggests it's the only one at which she doesn't excel) but one at which Johansson performs very well indeed. A difficult parcours and more heavy rain made it a very hard stage. "I was suffering the whole time," she said later, but the first time check revealed that her speed was not - she was 10" faster than Longo Borghini and, as the stage progressed, she got even faster: "I was confident in Emma’s ability, but I was pleasantly surprised at the time gaps,” Orica directeur sportif Dave McPartland admitted. “Technically, her ride was brilliant. It had been raining to varying degrees all day, and it was a slight drizzle on and off during Emma’s ride. She rode as if it was dry and told me after her race that she hadn’t taken any risks. I’d like to see what she looks like when she is taking risks!" When the stage ended, she had finished 38" faster than second, third and fourth-placed riders Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon), Longo Borghini and Anna van der Breggen (Sengers) and taken Orica's 200th podium place since the team came into being at the beginning of 2012.

...as is Anna van der Breggen
She thus began the fourth and final stage with 38" on Longo Borghini and a whole 1'51" on Vos, time gaps sufficient to allow her to win the race by cruising along in the peloton surrounded by a phalanx of protecting team mates. Except that women's cycling doesn't tend to work that way - after the first hour-and-a-half of racing had been spent with numerous attacks, counter-attacks and constant changes at the front of the pack, Longo Borghini and Johansson escaped again, this time accompanied Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) and Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS). Gillow worked hard for her leader, finally leaving the break between the two final climbs; that the 23-year-old Anna van der Breggen was able to bridge and join the break as the other three riders collaborated and increased their advantage on the way up the last hill is indication that she's a rider destined for greatness and very much one of the riders to watch at the forthcoming Tour de Bretagne, which she won in spectacular style last year. This time around, the stage deservedly went to Longo Borghini who had worked so hard throughout the race. Stevens followed her over the line for second with Johansson right on the American's back wheel for third, the three women recording an equal time while van der Breggen was three seconds slower; Vos was 1'06" down in sixth place.

"This is as close to a hometown win as anything for me,” the jubilant Johansson said once she'd climbed down from the podium and begun celebrating her first General Classification victory since 2012's Tour de Free State. "My first contract was with a Basque team based in Durango. I lived up north in Sweden at that time, so I couldn’t go home between races. Instead, I stayed with the girls here. I became good friends with my teammates. Their family became my family. I saw a lot of familiar faces out on the course every day. It feels like I’ve won at home." The Basques have a tradition of adopting riders they see as being worthy of becoming honourary Basques; Emma may ride for an Australian team these days, but she'll always find a warm welcome in Euskadi. (Race results further down the page)

Johnson HealthTech GP: Hannah Barnes wins Woking, Gabby Day wins Aylsham
Hannah Barnes, who required nine stitches
in her chin after winning in Woking, is
the 2013 overall winner.
She crashed hard enough early on in the race to need medical assistance once she'd crossed the finish line, but a rider like MG-Maxifuel's Hannah Barnes doesn't let anything as trifling as pain get in her way and her injuries didn't prevent her winning the round.

Her biggest rivals were Louise Borthwick of Edinburgh RC, who attacked time and time again throughout the race and finished up winning both the Sprints category and the Combativity award, and France's Roxanne Fournier who put up a stiff fight in the final sprint, only just missing out to Barnes at the line. MG-Maxifuel were the winning team and went to the fifth and final round in Aylsham with 180 points amassed so far, an advantage of 28 to second-placed MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport's 152. This closely resembled the situation in the individual riders category where Barnes, with 72 points, led while Louise Mahe (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport) has 52.

Woking has hosted a round of the Tour series every year since its inception. Aylsham is a new addition, but with both the races and the afternoon of free cycling-related activities proving hugely popular despite heavy rain, it seems likely that this won't be the last visit. Other rounds have also been more successful than ever this year, proving that women's cycling is definitely on the up in Britain - let's hope that, in order to allow those towns that want the Series to come back next year to again host races and also retain an interesting variety of courses, we'll get a couple of extra rounds for 2014.

The rain made the course treacherous, leading to a nasty crash for Penny Rowson (Breast Cancer Care) who hit the barriers hard and was extremely fortunate (and surprised, going by her Twitter messages after the race) to escape without broken bones. Six other riders, including last year's Individual Standings overall winner Annie Simpson, were unable to finish.

Penny ‏@penny_rowson
Omg thankyou so much for the lovely messages I am one lucky girl! Hit the barriers hard and nothings broken or fractured! #madeofstrongstuff

Annie Simpson ‏@LittleSimo
Very happy to have @penny_rowson  back under my watchful eye. Nothing broken & I've bought her cookies so she'll be fine ;)

Round 5 winner Gabby Day
Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport) and Gabby Day (Matrix Racing Academy) escaped the pack early on and led for the rest of the race. Creswick's ability to stay with the highly experienced and successful cyclo cross rider Day is evidence that she has some serious bike-handling skills, but when it came to the final sprint to the line she was unable to generate the power she needed to prevent her rival taking victory which, with team mates Hannah Walker, Harriet Owen and Jessie Walker in fifth, ninth and tenth, gave Matrix their first win of this year's series.

Meanwhile, Hannah Barnes rode intelligently by remaining in the pack and staying out of trouble rather than risk throwing her advantage away in a crash, coming in 16th among a bunch led by France's Roxanne Fournier; she therefore wins the Individual Standings with 84 points. Creswick overtook Louise Mahe and finishes in second place overall with 73 points while Day is in third with 72, equal to Mahe who now takes fourth. Day also won the Sprint competition for the round; Barnes wins the category overall with 35 points to second placed Mahe's 23 and third placed Creswick's 19. MG-Maxifuel win the overall Teams category with 204 points, MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport are second with 192 and Matrix Racing Academy are third with 187.

There is an excellent gallery of photos of the round by Paul Douglas on Matrix RA's website. Highlights of the race will be broadcast on ITV4 at 10pm on the 14th of June.

Woking Top Five
1 Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel)
2 Roxanne Fournier (France)
3 Coryn Rivera (Breast Cancer Care)
4 Ella Hopkins (Breast Cancer Care)
5 Charline Joiner (MG Maxifuel)
Full results

Aylsham Top Five
1 Gabby Day (Matrix Racing Academy)
2 Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport)
3 Roxanne Fournier (France)
4 Coryn Rivera USA (Breast Cancer Care)
5 Hannah Walker GBR (Matrix Racing Academy)
Full results

Hannah Barnes scores controversial Nocturne win in front of record crowd
Laura Trott
Britain's female professional cyclists are flying higher than ever before right now - ask your non-cycling friends to name some male riders from this country and they'll tell you Wiggins, Cav and Hoy, ask them for some female riders and chances are they'll have heard of Pendleton, the Trotts, Rowsell, King, Armitstead, Cooke, Pooley, Houvenaghel and perhaps - if you choose your friends wisely - Wyman, who really ought to be much better known in her home country than she is. So that's three men who've become household names and at least nine women: truly a superb state of affairs and one that caused the organisers of the IG Markets Smithfield Nocture to predict that the Elite Women's race would draw a larger crowd than the Elite Men's race this year.

"The crowd was absolutely phenomenal" - Dani King

It being a free event, accurate figures are had to come by, but videos and photographs of the event prove beyond doubt that the women rode in front of a considerably larger crowd than last year - and every single one of the thousands that watched the race unfold will be glad they made the effort, having been treated to a thrilling race that kept things uncertain right to the end.

The result proved controversial. Reigning Olympic Team Pursuit and Omnium champion Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) and Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel) fought hard in the final sprint, crossing the line so closely together than judges required a photo finish to decide who'd actually won, then declared that Trott had  got her wheel over the line first, while Barnes (who'll be on that list of household names by the next Olympics) recorded the same time of 34'51". However, after reviewing footage recorded by Channel 4, they decided that "it is clear" Barnes was in fact first but did not then declare her the winner, deeming the rider to have contested the sprint dangerously - the footage shows her lifting her arms aloft in celebration, as riders commonly do when finishing a race and as can be seen in this screenshot from the BBC, which British Cycling commissaires deemed dangerous "given the leaders' proximity in the sprint to a slower group of riders ahead on the road."

Nocturne organisers supported British Cycling's decision, but the cycling world was not convinced justice had been done. Legendary sprinter Mark Cavendish, no stranger to a spot of sprinting controversy himself, weighed in with the following Tweet in support of Barnes...

Mark Cavendish ‏@MarkCavendish
Reading about @bannahharnes getting demoted to 2nd in that #IGNocturne race. Is it true it was for celebrating the win?! Disgraceful if so.

...and fans were no less happy, as could be seen from the percentage of "#womenscycling" tweets discussing the matter and the appearance of a new tag, "#nocturnegate." Finally, in the afternoon of Saturday the 15th, a new official result was announced: Barnes was declared winner.

Trott's victory had been the first on home soil for her British-registered team, making the race a superb day out for Wiggle-Honda that got even better when Dani King took third place , Lauren Kitchen sixth, Jo Rowsell seventh and Charlotte Becker ninth with the team thus accounting for half of the top ten places. Nevertheless, team owner and manager Rochelle Gilmore was happy her rider had been relegated: ""We were delighted with what we understood was a narrow win for Laura Trott, but on discovering that Hannah Barnes had crossed the line first, we felt the decision to relegate her was harsh. We totally accept the reversal of this decision and offer our full and sincere congratulations to Hannah for an excellent win."

Top Ten further down the page.

Official statement here. Highlights of the event - with, hopefully, a decent-sized slot devoted to the Elite Women and the Women's Criterium - will be broadcast by Channel 4 at 07:35 on Sunday 16th of June.

Matrix Fitness RA2013 UK women's Calendar has been amazing. Top races, riders, teams & TV. Belgium is so last year as a proving ground. UK is where its at.
Women's cycling-friendly British Cycling boss to stand for UCI president
Current UCI president Pat McQuaid has come in for a great deal of criticism over his perceived failure to develop women's cycling and apparent lack of concern for the sport during his time in office, most memorably from Australian rider Chloe Hosking, who called him "a bit of a dick" and was then to all intents and purposes let off without punishment by her National Federation when she apologised, but also by numerous other riders and (probably) the majority of women's cycling fans.

Few of those fans - including me - will have been at all upset when the Irish Federation's nomination of him to stand as a candidate for a third term was found not to have been carried out in accordance with the constitution of the organisation and declared void (the Federation then called an Extraordinary General Meeting, to be held on the 15th of June); now comes the good news that Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling and a staunch supporter of women's cycling in the past and has argued for equality between male and female athletes, intends to stand for the post.

"Cycling is quite a male chauvinist sport, culturally it has been for years, but it's taken a long time to change,"  said Cookson, who is also the current president of the UCI Road Commission, following a Management Committee meeting in October last year. "What I asked the senior management team to do was look at short, medium and long-term actions we can put in place. I'm not clear that we've actually got that process right; we've got a lot of work to do."

Cookson has opened a Twitter account and will publish his manifesto on his website in the near future.

New US MTB race seeks to even up pay disparity
The Specialized Catamount Classic, a new mountain bike competition to take part in Vermont, USA, is a UCI Cat 2 Pro XCT event and, as a result, female riders that take part have to be paid only 65% as much as their male counterparts.

You'll have read several stories that begin with similar sentences if you've followed women's cycling, on road or off, and will no doubt consider it absolutely unjustifiable. This time, however, thanks to the Catamount organisers agreeing that it's unjustifiable, the story takes a different course: in order to help give women's cycling the financial boost it needs to get onto an equal footing with men's cycling, they're spending an equal amount on the men's and women's races that make up the event - and, for the first time in mountain biking history and probably in the entire history of cycling, the women will be paid more than the men.

That'll probably bring some accusations that the men are now being discriminated against; but with prize funds in other races and so many more races open to them it's hard to make such an argument stick - the men will still earn a great deal more, and enjoy a lot more support, over the course of the season.

"We have been striving to support women in cycling for years and are excited that we can do this on a national stage with the support of companies like G-form and Specialized," says race promoter Eric Bowker.

Interesting Links
Highly recommended: Chris Davies' Redditch Johnson HealthTech GP photos
Annie Simpson on the Redditch Johnson HealthTech GP (Cycling Weekly)
Jo Rowsell latest rider to demand more women's races running alongside men's
Crystal Lane wins Paralympic bronze in Italy (British Cycling)
Live in Newcastle? Fancy a talk on Emily Davison and the role of the bicycle in the Women's Suffrage movement (June 14th/15th)?
Velo Club Walcott searching for new female members (NowBath)
Video: Becky James urges young riders to try out track at the Chris Hoy Velodrome (Daily Record)
Emily Kay wins Hillingdon GP (British Cycling)
Julie Emmerman wins North Boulder Park Classic (Daily Camera, Colorado, USA)
Fatehah Mustapa wins Keirin at SE Asian Track GP (New Straits Times, Malaysia)
An interview with Loren Rowney (ROAR)

Elite Women Results
Tour of Adygeya, Russia
1 Natalia BOYARSKAYA (Russia) 9h06'34"
2 Eivgenia VYSOTSKA (Ukraine) +30"
3 Anna ZAVERSHINSKAYA (Russia) +01'33"
4 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) +02'22"
5 Anna EVSEEVA (Russia) +02'50"
6 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) +03'45"
7 Tatiana SHAMANOVA (Russia) +04'44"
8 Svetlana STOLBOVA (Russia) +04'54"
9 Aizhan ZHAPAROVA (RusVelo) +05'04"
10 Marina LIKHANOVA (Russia) +05'05"
Points: Boyarskaya (32p, Russia) KOM: Kuchinskaya (19p, RusVelo)
Stages: 1. Burchenkova (RusVelo) 2. Boyarskaya (Russia) 3. Chulkova (RusVelo) 4. Boyarskaya (Russia)
Full results here

Emakumeen Bira
1 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) 7h56'47"
2 Elisa LONGO BORGHINI (Hitec Products-UCK) +38"
3 Evelyn STEVENS (Specialized-Lululemon) +02'14"
4 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +02'45"
5 Marianne VOS (Rabo-Liv/Giant) +02'57"
6 Alena AMIALIUSIK (BePink) +04'12"
7 Megan GUARNIER (Rabo-Liv/Giant) +04'15"
8 Lucinda BRAND (Rabo-Liv/Giant) +04'35"
9 Fabiana LUPERINI (Faren-Let's Go Finland) +04'44"
10 Shara GILLOW (Orica-AIS) +04'45"
Points: KOM:
Stages: 1. Vos (Rabo-Liv/Giant) 2. Johansson (Orica-AIS) 3. Johansson (Orica-AIS) 4. Longo Borghini (Hitec Products-UCK)

IG Markets Smithfield Nocturne
1 Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel) 34'51"
2 Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) ST
3 Dani King (Wiggle-Honda) +01"
4 Coryn Rivera (Breast Cancer Care) +02"
5 Corrine Hall (Matrix Racing Academy) ST
6 Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle-Honda) ST
7 Jo Rowsell (Wiggle-Honda) ST
8 Louise Mahe (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport) +04" 
9 Charlotte Becker (Wiggle-Honda) +05" 
10 Natalie Creswick (MuleBar Girl-Sigma Sport) +41"
Full results and Women's Criterium results

Photo of the Week
Johnson HealthTech GP, Redditch, 2013
Used with the very kind permission of Chris Davies; do not reuse or
reproduce without gaining the permission of the owner.

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