Saturday 24 August 2013

Women's Cycling News 25-31.08.2013

UCI races this week - Ellen van Dijk wins Lotto-Belisol Belgium Tour - Vos wins Trophee d'Or ...but loses UCI Ranking lead to Johansson- New team Epic-Scott launched... and another one on the way - Transfer News - UCI Women's Cycling group - Shorts and Interesting Links - Tweets of the Week - more to come...

UCI events this week: Lotto-Belisol Belgium Tour (23-26.08); Trophee d'Or (24-28.08); GP de Plouay-Bretagne (31.08)

Lotto-Belisol Belgium Tour
Race preview here.

Stage 1 (Team Time Trial)
Specialized-Lululemon win the team time trial, placing Ellen van Dijk at the top of the General Classification with an advantage of 35" over her team mate Lisa Brennauer.

Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Specialized-Lululemon 25'39.72"
2 Orica-AIS 26'14.39"
3 Tibco-To The Top 27'01.89"
4 Hitec Products-UCK 27'08.63"
5 Argos-Shimano 27'10.94"
6 Sengers/Bizkaia (Mixed Team 1) 27'15.16"
7 Lotto-Belisol 27'23.70"
8 CycleLive Plus-Zannata 27'33.27"
9 Belgium NT 27'36.82
10 TopSport Vlaanderen-Biorace 27'50.53"
Full result

Stage 2 (Angreau)
Kirsten Wild
With breaks firing off throughout much of the stage, the shape of the end of Stage 2 remained uncertain right up until the final kilometres. However, Argos-Shimano kept a tight rein, ensuring that they had a rider in every break and that they were always around the front of the peloton, ready to get their team leaders into any break that looked as though it might stay away.

The last break was brought back with a little under 3km to go, at which point the team began to concentrate on getting Kirsten Wild into position for a bunch sprint. They did their jobs perfectly and, coming up the last climb to the finish, Wild was able to hang onto rival Emma Johansson's (Orica-AIS) back wheel before using her greater strength to power past and across the line.

Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) retains General Classification lead but has no time advantage over her team mate, second-place Lisa Brennauer. Carmen Small, also with Lululemon, is third overall, 20" down. Elise Delzenne (Rabo/Autoglas Wetteren/Group Solar/FCS Mixed) won the Combativity award.

  Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Argos-Shimano) 2h55'48"
3 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) ST
4 Kelly DRUYTS (TopSport Vlaanderen-Bioracer) ST
5 Ellen VAN DIJK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
6 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) ST
7 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Belgium NT) ST
8 Thalita DE JONG (Mixed Team Rabo/Autoglas Wetteren/Group Solar/FCS) ST
9 Lisa BRENNAUER (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
10 Christina SIGGAARD (Mixed Team Boretti/Matrix/Vanderkitten) ST
Full result and General Classification

Stage 3 (Niljen)
The Cote du Autreppe is neither high nor steep, but when it's climbed nine times (once on each lap of a 12.24km circuit) it was sure to have some effect on how the stage played out and it ensured that a sprint finish was far from guaranteed.

A strong break formed early on and kept going, though most of its members had been picked off by the final lap, mostly as a result of Argos-Shimano driving the pace and hunting them down. One rider remained out in front into the final 3km, but a last effort brought her back too and left the way clear for Amy Pieters to lead Kirsten Wild into the final straight, where she was once again able to overpower Orica-AIS for a second stage win in as many days.

Lisa Brennauer (Specialised-Lululemon) was second, followed by Orica's Nettie Edmondson and the next 117 riders to finish in the lead group (and all receive the same time as Wild; only eight riders finished later). Wild started and ended the day in seventh place overall; Ellen van Dijk (Specialised-Lululemon started in first place overall but crossed the line 18th and thus drops to second place overall. Van Dijk's team mate Brennauer started in second place overall but picked up bonus seconds for her placing on the stage and now leads the General Classification by 6". Marijn de Vries (Lotto-Belisol) won the Combativity award.

Stage 3 Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Argos-Shimano) 2h45'23"
2 Lisa BRENNAUER (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
3 Annette EDMONDSON (Orica-AIS) ST
4 Kelly DRUYTS (TopSport Vlaanderen-Bioracer) ST
5 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) ST
6 Jolien D'HOORE (Lotto-Belisol) ST
7 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Belgium NT) ST
8 Kim DE BAAT (Napoleon Games-St Martinus-Kerksken) ST
9 Chloe HOSKING (Hitec Products-UCK) ST
10 Kaat VAN DER MEULEN (Belgium NT) ST
Full result and General Classification

Stage 4 (Geraardsbergen)
Nettie Edmondson won the stage
Annette Edmondson (Orica-AIS) wins on the notorious 19.8% Kapelmuur; Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) was second and Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) third. Loes Gunnewijk (Orica-AIS) won the Combativity award for the stage.

Van Dijk won sufficient bonus seconds to overtake Lisa Brennauer, making her the overall winner by 7". Brennauer is second and Johansson third. Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano) wins the Youth category. Jasmin Glaesser (Tibco-To The Top) wins the Sprints classification, Sofie de Vuyst (Sengers) wins the Mountains classification. Orica-AIS won in the Team classification; and overall Combativity award was not declared.

Annette Edmondson ‏@NettieEdmondson
Wowser! Wasn't expecting that!! Despite efforts 4 yellow it was mad to go 1,2 for the team. Great ride from the girls, esp Loes' solo break!

Stage 4 Top Ten
1 Annette EDMONDSON (Orica-AIS) 2h20'05"
3 Eleonora VAN DIJK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
4 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) +03"
5 Amy PIETERS (Argos-Shimano) ST
6 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) ST
7 Kelly DRUYTS (TopSport Vlaanderen-Bioracer) +06"
8 Thalita DE JONG (Netherlands NT) ST
Ellen van Dijk wins overall
9 Kaat HANNES (Lotto-Belisol) ST
10 Sofie DE VUYST (Sengers) ST
Full result here

Final General Classification Top Ten
1 Ellen VAN DIJK (Specialized-Lululemon) 8h26'51"
2 Lisa BRENNAUER (Specialized-Lululemon) +07"
3 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) +27"
4 Loes GUNNEWIJK (Orica-AIS) +01'05"
5 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) +01'29"
6 Amy PIETERS (Argos-Shimano) +01'38"
7 Sofie DE VUYST (Sengers) +01'46"
8 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) +01'47"
9 Chantal BLAAK (Tibco-To The Top) +01'55"
10 Céline VAN SEVEREN (Lotto-Belisol) +01'57"
Full result here

Trophee d'Or
Race preview here.

Stage 1 (St Amand Montrond-Graçay)
Vos (Rabo) wins three-up sprint to lead General Classification by 4". Elena Cecchini (Faren-Kuota) was sixth and leads the Youth category.

Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 3h08'02"
2 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) ST
3 Lucinda BRAND (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
4 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) +02"
5 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +05"
6 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) +56"
7 Oxana KOZONCHUK (RusVelo) ST
8 Amy CURE (Australia NT) ST
9 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
10 Dani KING (Wiggle-Honda) ST
Full result and General Classification

Stage 2 (Individual Time Trial)
Sometimes, it seems like Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) is good at everything - but she's the first to admit that she isn't an excellent time trial rider.

The thing is, though, when Marianne says "not very good," it translates into "very, very good indeed." As a result, every once in a while she wins an individual time trial - sometimes in spectacular style, too, as was the case on Stage 2 when she recorded a time 17" faster than the second-placed rider Tatiana Antoshina, current Russian ITT Champion. The victory gives Vos an overall advantage of 52" over Anna van der Breggen (Sengers) who is second in the General Classification.

Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 23'13"
2 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (MCipollini-Giordana) +17"
3 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) +34"
4 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +38"
5 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +59"
6 Amy CURE (Australia NT) +01'03"
7 Grace SULZBERGER (Australia NT) +01'05"
8 Lucinda BRAND (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01'09"
9 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01'10"
10 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) +01'22"
Full result and General Classification

Stage 3 (La Chapelle St Ursin-La Chapelle St Ursin)
After the cold time trial in the morning, the weather turned rainy in the afternoon and remained so for the entirely of Stage 3, making the fast 26.1km circuit dangerous - two crashes took place during the first of three laps, while the riders were still getting a feel for the parcours.

Anastasiya Chulkova, riding for RusVelo, escaped in the final lap and worked hard to stay away, eventually taking a very deserved stage win with an impressive advantage of 1'10" over second place Marianne Vos, leading the chase group over the line. It was notable that Vos had only the tiniest advantage over Giorgia Bronzini, who has signaled her intention to try to take the Dutch rider's crown at the forthcoming World Championships.

Stage 3 Top Ten
1 Anastasiya CHULKOVA (RusVelo) 2h02'42"
2 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01'10"
3 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) ST
4 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
5 Pascale JEULAND (Vienne Futuroscope) ST
6 Barbara GUARISCHI (Vaiano Fondriest) ST
7 Yulia ILIYNIKH (Lointek) ST
8 Roxane FOURNIER (France NT) ST
9 Maria Giulia CONFALONIERI (Faren-Kuota) ST
10 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) ST
Full result and General Classification

Stage 4 (Cosne Cours Sur Loire-Cosne Cours Sur Loire)
The small but steep Category 1 climbs halfway through the parcours were expected to affect the outcome of Stage 4 and did so, splitting the riders into two groups - one that didn't have the strength to remain competitive (which can happen as much due to loss of will in wet conditions, as were experienced on this stage) going into the flatter final third and one that began to leave the other far behind as soon as the final categorised climb ended with 30km to go.

Before the competition, Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) termed Stage 4 "the toughest of the race" but said that she would be looking to pick up bonus seconds to secure a good General Classification placing. She was in the lead group and then stayed with Anna van der Breggen (Sengers) when she attacked with 3km to go - a promising sign of great things to come in 2014, when they'll be team mates. Valentina Scandolara, who shares Vos' ability to climb and sprint, went with them but was unable to match the World Champion's spectacular turn of speed; having won the stage, Vos leads the race overall by 1'02".

The unusually large gap between sixth and seventh place was caused partly the lead group's speed but by the chase group getting stuck at a railway crossing, where they had to wait for several minutes for a train to pass through. UCI rules state that if a break is halted and the main field catches up as a result, the break will be given an advantage equal to that before the crossing when the race restarts; if a break passes through and the main field is halted, the time the main field loses is included in the overall times recorded by its members.

Stage 4 Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 2h42'47"
2 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
3 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) ST
4 Lucinda BRAND (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +02"
5 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
6 Karol-Ann CANUEL (Vienne Futuroscope) +38"
7 Francesca CAUZ (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) +07'27"
8 Amy CURE (Australia NT) +09'33"
9 Oxana KOZONCHUK (RusVelo) ST
10 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
Full result here

Stage 5  (Baugy-Baugy)
The largely flat parcours of Stage 5, with only three Category 3 climbs, will have come as welcome relief for the sprinters following yesterday's hilly route - a chance to rest weary legs ready for tomorrow's rolling toute with three Cat. 2s and couple of Cat. 3s.

Amy Cure (Australia NT) won a bunch sprint after escaping the peloton accompanied by Megan Guarnier (Rabobank-Liv/Giant), Anastasiya Chulkova (RusVelo), Marta Tagliaferro (MCipollini-Giordana), Barbara Guarischi (Vaiano-Fondriest), Iris Slappendel (Rabo-Liv/Giant) and Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne Futuroscope). The first six women crossed the line as a group and recorded the same time as Cure; Canuel dropped back slightly at the end and was 1" slower.

The next group, led by Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv/Giant), arrived 48" later. Canuel had been the only rider close to Vos in the General Classification at the start of the stage, when she was in sixth place at +4'38" (Cure was next at +9'33"); she remains in sixth place with a smaller disadvantage of +3'51". Vos' overall advantage remains intact with a 1'02" lead over second-place Anna van der Breggen (Sengers). Rabo team mate Lucinda Brand is third at +1'31". Amy Cure remains best-placed Young rider in seventh place at +10'58".

Stage 5 Top Ten
1 Amy CURE (Australia NT) 2h32'22"
2 Megan GUARNIER (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
3 Anastasiya CHULKOVA (RusVelo) ST
4 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
5 Barbara GUARISCHI (Vaiano-Fondriest) ST
6 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
7 Karol-Ann CANUEL (Vienne Futuroscope) +01"
8 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +48"
9 Leire OLABERRIA DORRONSORO (Bizkaia-Durango) ST
10 Laura TROTT (Wiggle-Honda) ST
Full result and General Classification

Stage 6 (Orval-St Amand Montrond)
Van Vleuten wins the stage
Marianne Vos started the day with an advantage big enough that she didn't need to go for a stage win today, which isn't usually her style, but she'd been advised by Rabobank-Liv/Giant's doctors not to push herself too hard in the run-up to the World Championships in order to give her back, which has been causing her chronic pain, chance to recover fully. That cleared the way for team mate Annemiek van Vleuten to go for some glory of her own, which she deservedly received when she crossed the finish line seven seconds ahead of second-place Marta Tagliaferro (MCipollini-Giordana).

Vos' General Classification victory and three stage wins is evidence that she's on the mend; as one of her principle lieutenants, van Vleuten's also bodes well for Rabo at the Worlds because she too is recovering from an injury to her arm: "At the beginning of the race, I had a lot of pain in my left arm," she explained. "The first day was a matter of surviving, but over the last few days I've really felt some progress - thanks to the great work of the doctors. These last two days, I was given the freedom to go for a win, but yesterday my opportunities were limited due to an attack. But today - it's so nice to finish with a stage victory and feeling my arm getting better."

"This has been a tough race," said Vos. "I'm very glad that I had no problems and my back didn't suffer. I went full-on over the first three days, including in the time trial; Monday was very tough, but my back's been fine - I'm just as happy with my victory!" Vos also won the Points and Mountains competitions.

Van Vleuten took tenth overall, 11'43" behind Vos. Meanwhile, two other Rabo riders made sure the team was the best-represented in the top ten: Lucinda Brand was third at +1'31" and Iris Slappendel was eighth at +11'. In second place was Anna van der Breggen at _1'02"; currently riding for Sengers, van der Breggen will join forces with Vos and the rest for 2014 - meaning that it ought to be another year at he very pinnacle of the sport for the already enormously powerful Rabobank-Liv/Giant team.

Vos wins overall
Stage 6 Top Ten
1 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 2h18'56"
2 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) +07"
3 Laura TROTT (Wiggle-Honda) ST
4 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) ST
5 Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAU (Faren-Kuota) ST
6 Daniela PINTARELLI (Austria NT) +09"
7 Fiona DUTRIAUX (Vienne Futuroscope) +01'26"
8 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
9 Barbara GUARISCHI (Vaino-Fondriest) ST
10 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) ST
Full result

General Classification Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 13h11'02"
2 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +01'02"
3 Lucinda BRAND (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01'31"
4 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) +01'39"
5 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (MCipollini-Giordana) +02'53"
6 Karol-Ann CANUEL (Vienne Futuroscope) +03'51"
7 Amy CURE (Australia NT) +10'58"
8 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +11'
9 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) +11'24"
10 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +11'43"
Full result

Points: 1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 86; 2 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) 54; 3 Anastasiya CHULKOVA (RusVelo) 41. Mountains: 1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 41; 2 Valentina Scandolara  (MCipollini-Giordana) 39; 3 Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAU (Faren-Kuota) 31. Youth: 1 Amy CURE (Australia NT) 13h22'; 2 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) +02'15"; 3 Aude Biannic (S.C. Michela Fanini-ROX) +03'14". 

...but loses UCI Rankings lead 
For the first time in six years, Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) isn't at the top of the UCI Elite Women's Rankings - her 1,181.25 points put her in second place behind Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), who has emerged as her strongest rival this year and has amasses 1,211.75 points. The situation may be temporary, though - Vos is currently leading the Trophee d'Or and, if she wins overall, will take sufficient points to return her to the top spot.

There have been concerns that the pressure of racing mountain bikes as well as taking part in road races might be too strenuous even for Marianne and she has had to cross a few races off her calendar recently due to chronic back ache; fans will be eagerly waiting to see how she'll respond to this latest challenge and whether she can win enough points with a victory at the World Championships to get back to the top position. However, it seems likely that the change is as much a result of the was that the rankings are determined, by adding results over a twelve-month period (meaning results from last year's GP de Plouay are no longer counted), not that Vos is no longer as good as she once was, and because Johannson, through a combination of natural talent, hard work and excellent team support, has developed and improved - and serves as proof that by encouraging rivals to strive to match her, Vos' six-year domination strengthened women's cycling rather than weakened it as some suggested it might.

New team launched
Perhaps the most important news this week has been the unveiling of a major new British team: Epic Cycles-Scott Contessa. born from Scott Contessa-Epic. The team's aims are listed as "creating the leading domestic UK road team and providing an environment in which talented and ambitious senior riders can develop and progress their cycling careers," according to the official Facebook page.

The team also used Facebook to publish a manifesto, which can be read on their page or by clicking here.

You can also follow Epic-Scott on Twitter.

...and another on the way
Meanwhile, former Scottish Cycling head coach Graeme Herd, has revealed his plans to unveil a Scottish-based Elite Women's team by the end of 2013.

Herd was encouraged to go ahead with his plans after witnessing the enormous support enjoyed by the women's race at the National Road Race Championships. "I've never seen anything like that in the 30 years I've been involved in cycling," he told the Herald Scotland newspaper, going on to explain that he is still seeking sponsorship: "Historically, women's racing suffer from a lack of profile but that's changing; they are getting more equal coverage to the men. But in a set-up like this, women's cycling offers better value for money. To invest in a team at UCI level, for a top men's squad you are talking about £18m but for a women's that figure would be closer to £1m. In terms of return, it's a no-brainer as the profile will explode."

In addition to racing UCI events, Herd would use the team to develop new talents in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics.

Transfers: Fahlin to Wiggle-Honda and more
Fahlin to Wiggle in 2014
Emilia Fahlin will move from Hitec Products-UCK to the British-registered Wiggle-Honda, where she'll ride with owner/manager Rochelle Gilmore, twice World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, Olympic Champions Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell and others.

A space was made on the team by Lauren Kitchen, who will swap places with Fahlin at Hitec - which has also signed ace climber Ashleigh Moolman, previously with Lotto-Belisol, as revealed last week.

Meanwhile, Anna van der Breggen, who has ridden for Sengers for the last two seasons, will move to Rabobank-Liv/Giant - due in no small part to her sterling performance in assisting Rabo's leader Marianne Vos to take the rainbow jersey at the World Championships in 2012.

Meredith Miller, who is retiring from road racing but will continue in cyclo cross, will leave Tibco-To The Top.

UCI to create Women's Cycling group
Following a meeting of the UCI Road Commission, to which Marianne Vos and Tracey Gaudry were invited, cycling's governing body has pledged to create a new working group dedicated solely to women's cycling. The group will meet regularly to discuss "the possibility of changing the format of the UCI Women Road World Cup, of creating a first division of women’s teams and long term considerations, such as introducing minimum wages for team members."

For many fans, this will seem like a last-ditch attempt by embattled president Pat McQuaid to look as though he's willing to do something for the sport. However, McQuaid recently lost the support of the Swiss Federation, leaving him with only two backers, Morocco and Thailand, as the presidential election nears; under UCI rules (which are somewhat vague), it seems likely that a candidate must be backed by at least three federations. His only opponent, current British Cycling boss Brian Cookson, looks set to take his position and is, notably, a long-term supporter of women's cycling.

Shorts and Interesting Links
Interesting Links
Trophee d'Or injects 35,000 euros into local economy (LeBerry) (in French)
Intro to Women's Cycling and Racing Series (Seattle PI)
SA women strike gold at World Masters Champs (SuperSport)
Is Orica-GreenEdge Cycling's YouTube video sexist? (Bustle)

Tweets of the Week
Fabian cancellara ‏@f_cancellara
Almost in the hotel... Long day is ending. 150km to the start. 180km race, 200km to the hotel.looking foward to the massage

Martine Bras ‏@martinebras
@f_cancellara that sounds like a normal day @ Giro Donne. Only the race is 130 km and the drive to the hotel 500km ;) Good luck tomorrow

More to come...

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