Elite races this week - Riders' strike at Giro Toscana - Boels Ladies Tour - Giro Toscana: Stages 1, 2, 3, riders threaten strike - Garner on GB Worlds team - Le Tour Entier manifesto - Meeuwen's Marianne Monument - Transfer and Team News - Interesting Links - Photo of the Week - more to come...
UCI Elite Women's events this week: Premondiale Giro Toscana Int. Femminile-Memorial Michela Fanini (11-15.09); Chrono Champenois-Trophée Européen (15.09).
Riders' strike at Giro Toscana
Rabobank-Liv/Giant, Hitec Products-UCK, Wiggle-Honda, Orica-AIS, Boels-Dolmans and the USA national team have refused to take part in the final stage of the Giro Toscana in protest at safety issues in the race (see "Riders threaten strike," below).
Rabobank is home to the race leader Marianne Vos, Orica to second place Emma Johansson while Wiggle's Giorgia Bronzini, one of the most popular riders with fans, won Stage 1; making the teams' refusal highly embarrassing to race organisers. It is understood that Rossella Ratto (Hitec-UCK), who is currently in fourth place overall, decided to take part, to the disapproval of team manager Karl Lima. Approximately 40 other riders, mostly Italian, also started and were booed by fans, says journalist Bart Hazen who is at the race. Fans have suggested various reasons that riders might have felt obliged to race, including financial pressure (remember that many "professional" riders have to work in addition to racing simply to make ends meet) and - for the Italians especially - because they felt they owed it to the fans
Lauren Kitchen @LaurenKitchen1 No start today in Toscana. Safety needs to assured before we can race.
Tiffany Jane @tiffanycromwell Well that was an anticlimax to finish Toscana but we took a stand for our safety and 80% of the peloton did not start the final stage.
Emma Johansson @emmaprocyclist Proud of all teams/riders standing up for our safety by not starting in Toscana today! #SafetyFirst #OnMyWayHome
Boels Rental Ladies Tour
The day of Stage 6 began in unusual circumstances - organisers had decided that fourteen climbs (including the infamous Cauberg; you can see the route profile here) wasn't quite enough, so they changed the route slightly and added four more. The fans loved it, because cycling fans love to see riders climb; chances are it wasn't universally popular among the riders.
With every stage up until this one being flat, the race changed character entirely today: whereas there had been little opportunity for breaks to get away from a surging peloton previously (Elke Gebhardt of Argos-Shimano showed she was on the ball when she grabbed just such a rare opporunity and turned it into a stage win), the steep gradients meant attacks were the order of the day. Rabobank-Liv/Giant's Annemiek van Vleuten put in the most impressive performance of the day, coming back from two mechanical failures to chase down the lead group and then jump off the front before staying away for some 30km, putting herself into the lead temporarily by doing so. She was joined by Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana), who was second overall at the Giro Rosa this year, and the pair of them provided one of the highlights of the race - but with Anna van der Breggen (Sengers), Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), Claudia Hausler (Tibco-To The Top) and Ellen van Dijk (Orica-AIS) joining forces to chase, the two escapees needed would have needed superhuman strength to stay away to the finish.
|Tatiana Guderzo takes her first GC|
Trixi Worrack, who had led the race since Stage 2, did not fare well on the stiff gradients and finished in 13th place, 2'52" behind Guderzo - and, more crucially, 2'26" behind Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon), who had finished Stage 5 in second place in the General Classification with a disadvantage of only 4". With no rivals finishing anywhere near her, van Dijk therefore leaped into the lead and wins overall with an advantage of 1'05" over van Vleuten and 1'11" over third place Armitstead.
Sarah's huge collection of videos (and more from the Tours de l'Ardeche and Murray River) on Podium Cafe
Stage 6 Top Ten
1 Tatiana GUDERZO (MCipollini-Giordana) 2h53'59"
2 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
3 Lizzie ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) +14"
4 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +19"
5 Claudia HAUSLER (Tibco-To The Top) ST
6 Ellen VAN DIJK (Specialized-Lululemon) +26"
7 Chantal BLAAK (Tibco-To The Top) +01'27"
8 Jessie DAAMS (Boels-Dolmans) +02'42"
9 Megan GUARNIER (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
10 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) +02'44"
Final General Classification Top Ten
1 Ellen VAN DIJK (Specialized-Lululemon) 15h00'47"
2 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +01'05"
3 Lizzie ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) +01'11"
4 Tatiana GUDERZO (MCipollini-Giordana) +01'50"
5 Claudia HAUSLER (Tibco-To The Top) +02'17"
6 Trixi WORRACK (Specialized-Lululemon) +02'22"
7 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) +02'28"
8 Chantal BLAAK (Tibco-To The Top) +03'21"
9 Megan GUARNIER (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +03'59"
10 Katarzyna NIEWIADOMA (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +04'01"
Points: 1 Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) 82; 2 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) 66; 3 Shelley Olds (Tibco-To The Top) 59. Sprints: 1 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) 20; 2 Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 6; 3 Vera Koedooder (Sengers) 6. Combination: 1 Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) 27; 2 Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv/Giant 23; 3 Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) 17. Youth: 1 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 15h04'48"; 2 Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano) +01'01"; 3 Susanna Zorzi (Italy NT) +02'29".
Premondiale Giro Toscana Int. Femminile-Memorial Michela Fanini
Marianne Vos has said in the past that time trials aren't her thing and she'll never be much good at them, but she's not the sort of rider to let a little thing like that stand in her way and still wins them - especially when it's a short prologue such as this one, when she can use a combination of her incredible power and ability to keep generating maximum wattage for just a little longer than anyone else.
Rabo team mate Annemiek van Vleuten was second, taking just 3" longer than Vos to get round the 2.22km parcours, while Shelley Olds of Tibco-To The Top was third at +5".
|Vos (left) with Bronzini (centre) and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg|
at the 2011 World Championships
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 02'53"
2 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +03"
3 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) +05"
4 Kirsten WILD (Argos-Shimano) ST
5 Tiffany CROMWELL (Orica-AIS) +06"
6 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
7 Emily COLLINS (Wiggle-Honda) +07"
8 Pauline FERRAND PREVOT (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +08"
9 Lauren HALL (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) ST
10 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
Full result and GC
Sprinters who can hold their own on hilly courses are the rarest of rare breeds in the cycling world, which is the reason that A; Giorgia Bronzini is as successful as she is and B; she was very obviously going to win this stage - with a rolling 33km followed by four laps of a circuit featuring of the Massa e Cozzile climb which, while not an especially high, was steep enough in sections to merit Category 2 status and turned out to be perfectly capable of splitting the race into several distinct groups. Thanks to it, the other sprinters had used up too much energy simply getting to the finish, whereas Bronzini still had the legs to hold off the seven riders who contested the last dash to the line.
Rosella Ratto provided us with more proof of her potential to win big races in the future and of Hitec-UCK manager Karl Lima's unerring talent for spotting promising young riders by following Bronzini all the way - the 20-year-old finished a mere fraction of a second later and recorded the same time for second place but she'll probably be more pleased by knowing that she beat Vos, who took third with the same time.
Bonification seconds saw Vos' overall advantage increase from 3" to 5"; Bronzini is second and Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS) is third at +10".
As has all too often been the case with this race, the stage was not without problems - a number of cars found their way onto the parcours, leading to a group trailing the peloton at around 75km from the start being pulled out of the race when judges decided it was simply too dangerous for them to continue.
Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) 3h21'12"
2 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) ST
3 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
4 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
5 Tiffany CROMWELL (Orica-AIS) ST
6 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) ST
7 Claudia HÄUSLER (Tibco-To The Top) ST
8 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (MCipollini-Giordana) +03"
9 Evelyn STEVENS (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
10 Tatiana GUDERZO (MCipollini-Giordana) +05"
Full result and GC
How the riders got through Stage 2 without anyone suffering serious injury is miraculous - but organisers and police are going to have some questions to answer because the teams aren't going to be at all happy about the non-official (ie, not connected to the race) cars that were again permitted access onto the parcours today, and according to eyewitnesses in larger numbers than Stage 1. "Absolutely crazy this bike race," said photojournalist Bart Hazen. "Again traffic all over the place." It's just the latest in a series of incidents, some ridiculous and some gravely dangerous, that have taken place at women's races this season, indication that the sport really does need more support from the UCI if its to become as professional as the consummately professional riders deserve it to be, but in this case another issue is raised - if the cars got onto the parcours due to a failing on the part of the local police, can they be trusted to control traffic at the World Championships, due to take place in this region later this month?
We frequently hear of races being won by the thickness of a tyre, this one was won by the thickness of a spoke: Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) was declared winner with Shelley Olds (Tibco-To The Top) taking second by a milimetre, as revealed by a photofinish. Following the awarding of bonification seconds, Vos' lead increased from 5" to 18" over second place Giorgia Bronzini, who is likely to drop away down the General Classification on the much bigger hills to come; Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), who has been Vos' strongest rival this year, is in fifth place overall at +25".
Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 2h46'22"
2 Shelley OLDS (Tibco-To The Top) ST
3 Barbara GUARISCHI (Vaiano-Fondriest) ST
4 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
5 Annalisa CUCINOTTA (Servetto Footon) ST
6 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) ST
7 Annemiek van VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
8 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) ST
9 Marta TAGLIAFERRO (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
10 Chloe HOSKING (Hitec Products-UCK)
Full result and GC
The race seemed destined to end in a big bunch sprint when 30 riders got away in a lead group, but were caught on the Valgiano climb - at which point, a six-strong group consisting of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), Anna van der Breggen (Sengers), Rossella Ratto (Hitec-UCK), Claudia Hausler (Tibco-To The Top), Tatiana Antoshina (MCipollini-Giordana) and Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) escaped. Partly due to the sheer strength of its members and partly because with six of the top teams represented out in front the peloton never really organised a chase effort, the break stayed away - another fast group, headed by Valentina Scandolara and Pauline Ferrand Prevot, rode away from the bunch but were 3'30" away from the leaders by the finish.
Vos faced repeated attacks on the final climb as the other members of the break tried to do her some damage before the sprint but she took it all in her stride and chased down each and every attempt, then managed to get away - with Johansson and van der Breggen just hanging on - on the descent, though the other three escapees managed to catch them up with a kilometre to go. There was no photo finish today: when the Dutch woman crossed the finish line, she was a bike length ahead of Johansson. Van der Breggen, who will ride for Vos' team next season, was third with all six riders in the lead group sharing Vos' time. Scandolara, at the head of the chase group, was seventh at +3'30. The main group of 70 riders arrived 9'32" after the lead group. Lizzie Armitstead and Adrie Visser (both Boels-Dolmans) were the most prominent riders of seven not to finish; Katie Colclough of Specialized-Lululemon did not start the stage.
With bonification seconds, Vos saw her overall advantage increase from 18" to 32" over second place, now occupied by Emma Johansson; previous second place Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) dropped to 17th at +10'02" after finishing in 96th place.
Stage 3 Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) 3h18'45"
2 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
3 Anna VAN DER BREGGEN (Sengers) ST
4 Rossella RATTO (Hitec Products-UCK) ST
5 Claudia HÄUSLER (Tibco-To The Top) ST
6 Tatiana ANTOSHINA (MCipollini-Giordana) ST
7 Valentina SCANDOLARA (MCipollini-Giordana) +03'30"
8 Pauline FERRAND PREVOT (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
9 Tiffany CROMWELL (Orica-AIS) ST
10 Elena CECCHINI (Faren-Kuota) ST
Full result and GC
Riders threaten strike
According to reports in the Spanish press, the riders in Toscana have stated that they will not race the final stage between Lucca and Florence unless improvements are made to traffic control during the race. In previous stages, the roads had not been cleared of traffic by means of a rolling roadblock for the entire race to pass by, as is typically the case, but only for the lead riders - which leaves the rest of the field riding in traffic.
"We are all agreed that we cannot race in these conditions," says Elisa Longo Borghini. "Over the last few days, we've been lucky and nobody was injured, but it's just too risky. Our representatives have asked [organiser] Brunello Fanini to take action, but the situation has not improved. If a sufficient number of motorcycles to guarantee our safety cannot be provided, we have decided we have no choice but to cancel the [final] stage."
"I fully agree with the Italian strike plans - safety must be a priority," says Marianne Vos, who acts as a riders' representative to the UCI. "For ten years, there have been issues with rider safety at this race and it's time we expressed our discomfort."
Garner makes GB Worlds team
|Lucy Garner - the next big thing in|
British women's cycling
She will be joined on the GB team by Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armitstead, Nikki Harris, Katie Colclough and Sharon Laws.
Le Tour Entier lauches manifesto
The media has gone a bit quiet with regard to the Le Tour Entier campaign to encourage the Amaury Sport Organisation to introduce a women's Tour de France as soon as possible just lately, though the online petition is still ticking away and gathering signatures - it's not far off 100,000 names now.
Now the campaign, started by Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos, Kathryn Bertine and Chrissie Wellington, has a manifesto - and Le Tour Entier is demanding not just a women's Tour, but the inauguration of three women's Grand Tours (one of which would presumably be a much developed and extended Giro Rosa, the only women's Grand Tour currently in existence) and a complete overhaul of women's cycling.
This month, the UCI will hold an election to select its president. Pat McQuaid, who has been widely criticised for his apparent lack of interest in women's cycling, looks increasingly unlikely to beat his only rival, British Cycling boss Brian Cookson, who is a keen supporter of women's cycling and has indicated his intention to investigate ways in which the sport can be promoted and developed.
The manifesto's six main points
- Le Tour Entier aims to "help create a framework to support the growth of women’s cycling and build a sport with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal – starting with a race at the Tour de France."
- The UCI should examine ways in which women's cycling can be promoted so as to increase coverage in the media, which will attract new sponsors
- The UCI should promote the commercial development of women's cycling
- The UCI should strongly encourage World Tour teams to operate both men's and women's teams, as is currently the case with Orica-AIS, Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano
- Women's World Tour, Continental Tour and Continental Championships be established and races forming part of each series should be encouraged to run men's and women's races, as is the case currently with the Ronde van Vlaanderen and some other events
- Rules regarding the maximum stage length in and overall length of women's races should be revised
"Right now, we need change. We believe that Brian Cookson, in his manifesto, presents an opportunity for women's cycling to move forward," says Bertine. "If Pat McQuaid wins, my biggest fear is that nothing will happen."
"We have been very frank, open and honest in this manifesto - we've taken a long hard look at women's road cycling as a whole, what’s working and what isn't," adds Pooley "We've been pretty critical of the way in which women's cycling is currently run, which in truth is pretty badly, but we've also come up with some very positive solutions and suggestions. I just think it's high time that the greatest and most inspiring bike race in the world had a women's race! Quite apart from the obvious inequality, it's a missed opportunity for spectators and the sport of cycling as a whole. I think that when girls take up cycling, they should be able to aspire to race the Tour de France without that being just a crazy dream."
Meeuwen's Marianne Monument
Transfer and Team News
No new information on transfers this week, but the Futurumshop.nl and CycleLive-Zannata teams have announced that they will merge to form one team for 2014.
The new squad is to be known as Futurumshop.nl-Zannata.de and will be made up of riders selected from both 2012 teams. So far, it looks as though Annelies van Doorslaer, Latoya Brulee, Annelies Dom, Karen Elzing, Janine van der Meer, Mascha Pijnenborg and Anouska Koster are all in, though discussions with other riders are taking place. The team will be registered in the Netherlands.
Some thoughts on Brian Cookson's latest blog (Unofficial Unsanctioned Women's Cycling)
Lucy Garner makes GB road race world championship squad (Sky Sports)
Why must cycling companies saddle women with pink? (The Guardian)
Cyclist Maddi Campbell looks to impress in Italy (Stuff NZ)
Hollee Simons gets a fitting finale (Western Advocate)
Photo of the Week
|Cafe stop with Jessie Walker|
(with thanks to Penny Rowson of the Matrix Racing Academy for the photo)