Sunday 20 October 2013

Women's Cycling News 20-27.10.2013

UCI events this week - Chrono des Nations - Vos wins Valkenburg... and Woerden - Women's group riding skills session with Sigma Sport - Transfers and Team News - more news as it happens...

UCI Elite Women's road races this week: Chrono des Nations (20.10.2013) loads of cross and track

Chrono des Nations
Race preview here
Time trial riders descended on Les Herbiers on Sunday the 20th of October for the final Elite Women's event of the season (apart from the African Championships), the Chrono des Nations. A first-class roster guaranteed exciting riding, with many people especially interested in seeing the relatively-unknown riders from cycling clubs that tend to come to this race - and frequently set impressive times. Another interesting aspect was the presence of Jeannie Longo, who won the first women's edition of this race back in 1987 and will turn 55 years of age at the end of the month.

Les Herbiers got its name due to the lush vegetation that grows abundantly in the locale, which is made possible by heavy rainfall. On Saturday, the showers that swept through in the morning had been replaced by drier conditions in the early afternoon and the majority of the parcours wasn't too slippery, raising hopes that conditions might be good on Sunday - by the morning of the race, forecasts remained contrary with some predicting a dry day, others warning of light rain from lunchtime to late afternoon. The wind, meanwhile, was another matter entirely - roaring in off the Atlantic, it tore across the parcours - and the Chrono is a parcours that requires care and good bike-handling at the best of times, because all that vegetation is losing its leaves at this time of year and the route features a number of technical bands and corners where wet leaves tend to collect, forming a very slippery hazard.

Solovey's victory - which was decisive at +43" over second place Alison Starnes, who is an older, more experienced rider at the peak of her athletic career, and almost a minute over third place Elisa Longo Borghini - will be controversial: she's not long returned to cycling after a ban (ended 1st July), having been caught out in a test for the steroid Drostanolone. Solovey used the drug when she was just 19 and  is still only 21 years old, making her victory against some of top time trial riders in the world even more impressive - for many, perhaps a little too impressive, so there will be questions.

If it can be proven that Solovey is now clean (it should be added that she would not be the first young rider to be pressured into doping by a crooked trainer, as appears to have been the case - and which is a convincing counter to the argument that all athletes found to have doped should be banned for life without question), she has proven that she is a seriously talented rider. Junior World ITT Champion in 2009 and 2010, she went on to become National ITT Champion at Elite level in 2012 and is European Under-23 ITT Champion and National Omnium Champion this year, when she also finished third in the European U-23 Road Race Championships. Given a season or so of good results, in her races and in the dope-tester's trailer, it's a safe bet that we'll be seeing Solovey take up a contract with one of the top professional teams very soon; in the meantime, she's served her ban, deserves the opportunity to make a new start and is innocent unless proven otherwise.

Chrono des Nations Top Ten
1 Hanna SOLOVEY (Ukraine) 28'24"
2 Alison STARNES (USA) +43"
3 Elisa LONGO BORGHINI (Italy) +59"
4 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (Russia) +01'01"
5 Edwige PITEL (France) +01'05"
6 Amber NEBEN (USA) +01'31"
7 Bridie O'DONNELL (Australia) +01'42"
8 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Belgium) +01'50"
9 Jutta STIENEN (Switzerland) +02'01"
10 Julia SHAW (Great Britain) +02'02"
Full result

Vos wins Valkenburg...
Marianne Vos, seen at the 2013 CX World Championships
"It might have looked easy, but it wasn't," Marianne Vos told the world after winning at the first Cross World Cup round of the season. She really has no need to worry - there may be a few people out there who mistakenly think winning races comes easily to Vos, but anyone who knows anything about cycling knows there's no such thing as an easy victory in this sport. Nor did it look easy: it's plain to see when watching Vos race that she puts as much of herself into every ride as everyone else - it's just that she apparently has a little more to put in.

The race started with a minute's silence in honour of Amy Dombroski, the American rider who tragically died aged just 26 when she was involved in a collision with a car earlier this month. Seven-time British Champion Helen Wyman was fastest away from the start, as tends to the case in all of her races - 32-year-old Wyman has always had an ability to produce a large amount of power in a short period of time, which is why her trophy cabinet is as full as it is. Apart from that, though, it was due to be another demonstration of Vos' domination: it took the Dutch rider only a few hundred metres to catch the Brit, then overtake - and from that point on she never looked back. Wyman joined forces with Nikki Harris, Katie Compton and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau - a cyclo cross dream team if ever there was one - to go after her, but still Vos extended her lead, putting 18" between herself and the chasers by the end of the first lap. During the second lap, Compton began to gain a lead on the chasers and was soon ahead of them - but she was unable to get near Vos.

Katie Compton
As the race neared its end, the strain of trying to match Vos' pace accounted first for Ferrier-Bruneau and then, a short while afterwards, for Wyman, who had perhaps put the most effort into their attempts to catch her; both let off the power and gave up hopes of a podium place. Before long, it was clear that Harris was suffering too, leaving Compton without challengers for second place but still completely unable to prevent Vos taking first - it took the American 1'35" longer to arrive at the line, with Harris getting there another 17" later.

Vos has also stated her intention to compete in fewer mountain bike races in 2014, having picked up the sport last year after spending several seasons concentrating on road and cross - she was Junior National Cross Country Champion in 2005. Mountain biking is, she explained to reporters at Valkenburg, less important to her now, but she still dreams of competing in MTB at the 2016 Olympics and will continue training in the discipline. For now, she will compete in the Woerden race, then take a well-earned break before returning to compete in the remainder of the cross season.

The next round of the World Cup is Tabor in the Czech Republic, taking place on Saturday the 26th of October. Following that: Koksijde, Belgium, 23.10.13; Namur, Belgium, 22.12.2013; Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, 26.12.2013; Rome, Italy, 05.01.2014; Nommay, France, 26.01.2014; Hoogerheide, Netherlands, 01.02.2014.

Valkenburg Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS 37'56"
2 Katie COMPTON 39'31"
3 Nikki HARRIS 39'48"
4 Helen WYMAN 40'00"
5 Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAU 40'07"
6 Pavla HAVLIKOVA 40'16"
7 Ellen VAN LOY 40'25"
8 Sanne CANT 40'49"
9 Annefleur KALVENHAAR 41'01"
10 Caroline MANI 41'26"
Full result

...and the Nacht van Woerden

Helen Wyman
Now, I don't know about you but on the last day at work before a holiday, I don't do a lot. In fact, I put more effort into avoiding work than I usually put into doing work. The same is not true of Marianne Vos: she's just about to take a very well-earned break from the world of cycling and plans to return for the Heusden-Zolder round of the World Cup on the 26th of December but, because she apparently knows no other way to ride, she still put in everything she possibly could.

An attempt to recycle her Valkenburg tactics didn't work out when Katie Compton put her heart and soul in making sure she stayed with the Dutchwoman, so Vos fought a war of attrition by using her incredible bike-handling skills to maintain a pace around the course that she knew could only wear the American down given sufficient time. For Wyman and Harris it was too much and, before long, they were trailing - though never by anything like as large a margin as at Valkenburg, suggesting that when Vos returns in December (by which time they'll both have an extra two months-worth of cross races in their legs) she might find them both to be very powerful adversaries.

Finally, not far from the finish, Vos got away and found the lead she needed, beating Compton by 6" - enormously different to the 1'35" with which she won Valkenburg and evidence that Compton is a serious rival this season. Wyman finished 15" after Compton, then Harris 6" later.

Woerden Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS 40'40"
2 Katherine COMPTON 40'46"
3 Helen WYMAN 41'11"
4 Nikki HARRIS 41'17"
5 Sophie DE BOER 41'33
6 Gabriella DURRIN ST
7 Ellen VAN LOY 41'49"
8 Arley KEMMERER 42'53"
9 Lana VERBERNE 43'02"
10 Reza HORMES 43'09"
Full result

Women's group riding skills session with Sigma Sport
Learn group riding skills with Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport
If you're planning on starting out in racing come the new season, whether you're going to be the next Marianne or just fancy seeing how well you fare in your local club's races, you'll have watched races closely enough to know that races aren't won simply being able to ride fast. You also need bike handling skills and, most importantly of all, the ability to work as part of a closely-choreographed group - with your team mates and, due to the unique nature of cycling, with riders from other teams, too, which is why cyclists use a system of gestures and symbols during a race to allow them to communicate with one another even when they speak different languages.

All those skills can take a long time to learn, but if you can master them as quickly as possible your racing is immediately off to a good start. That's where Team Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport come in. Members of the team, working alongside female riders from Sigma Sport, have created a short training session that promises to instruct riders in how to move their hands confidently around and off the bars, recognise hazards and point them out, ride in close proximity front/back and side to side, eat and drink on the bike and share the workload (how/why/when to change group position). Find more information on Sigma's website.

The session begins at Sigma's shop in Hampton Wick, Kingston-upon-Thames (there's a train station just up the road if you'd prefer not to drive), from where the group will ride to Richmond Park where training will be carried out. Places on the session are limited to 15 to ensure that the quality of training received is of a high standard; if all places are filled, there will doubtless be more sessions in the future.

The session, open to female riders only, will take place on the 30th of October and begins at 9:30am. It'll last for around two hours and, because Mulebar Girl-Sigma Sport know that cycling should be fun, there'll be coffee and cake back at the shop afterwards.

For more details or to register, email Places will be allocated on a first come/first served basis; please register early to avoid disappointment.

Transfers and Team News
Most of the teams have finalised their 2014 rosters by now. So far, things are looking like this.

Vera Koedooder
Vera Koedooder, previously of the Sengers team which will not continue beyond 2013, is going to Bigla. Koedooder, who turns 30 at the end of this month, won the Grand Prix de Dottignies, the Omloop can Borsele and Stage 2 at the Tour de Bretagne this year. Bigla is expected to reveal its full 2014 roster in early November.

Parkhotel Valkenburg have announced they're taking on five new Dutch riders: Marissa Otten and Monique van de Ree (previously CycleLive Plus-Zannata),  Esra Tromp (previously Argos-Shimano), Kim de Baat (previously Boels-Dolmans) and Natalie van Gogh.

Shorts and Interesting Links
Note: you've probably spotted by now that there aren't any reports on the European Track Championships which have been taking place in the Netherlands. That's because, despite several attempts to become enthusiastic about it, I've never managed to "get" track cycling and the finer details of it still elude me. There are plenty of other people who do love it, though, and it won't take you long at all to find reports written by them.

Kerry McPhee wins Scots Hillclimbing Championships (British Cycling)
NZ women's track squad back on track (NewsTalk ZB)
Dynamic, Women-Centered Shifts in Our Local Biking Community (PQ)

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