Saturday 26 October 2013

Women's Cycling News 27.10-03.11.2013

LATEST: Wyman Queen of Koppenbergcross, Nikki Harris has big plans - Emma Pooley joins Lotto-Belisol - Euro Cross Champs start list - Manchester World Cup on BBC - UCI angers Binda bosses - Compton top in Tabor - Wyman wins Ruddervoorde - More Women's Tour details - New team for Plymouth, UK - Long-term performance enhancement from steroids, study suggests - Koppenbergcross Starters - Kloppenberg for Koppenberg? - Transfers and Team News: New sponsor for Argos-Shimano, Moves,  Rachel Heal joins UHC as DS, Matrix RA roster revealed, At-A-Glance - more news as it happens...

Latest: Wyman Queen of Koppenbergcross
Helen Wyman, Britain's most-
overlooked sporting hero
Britain's most overlooked sporting hero Helen Wyman - who, with seven National Championships, one European Championship and a whole host of victories in other races on her palmares ought to be a household name - became the only female rider to have twice won the legendary and infamously technical Koppenbergcross race in 2012, having first won it two years previously. Now, following a masterful performance on Friday that left only Belgian National Champion Sanne Cant able to stay anywhere near her, she's the only woman to have won it three times.

Helen's starts are famous and few riders can rival her for a fast getaway from the line, which enabled the 32-year-old from St. Albans to seize control for much of the first lap. Cant, who is from Antwerp, was obviously eager to win on home soil in front of a typically enthusiastic (and intoxicated) Belgian crowd and managed to take the lead a few times, but Wyman fended off the challenge whenever she did. Meanwhile, fellow Briton Nikki Harris rode in a small group with Ellen van Loy, Sophie de Boer and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau some eight seconds back.

Harris, the current British champion, showed real panache when she left the group behind and caught the two leaders, but the more experienced Wyman knew doing so would have taken serious effort and, knowing she'd have been tired by it, ramped up her own efforts - which turned out to be too much for Cant, too, and before long Wyman was 10" ahead of the Belgian and 15" ahead of the Brit. Cant, though, is a very talented rider who excels on slippery descents, which permitted her to halve her disadvantage on the technical slopes of the field next to the feted Koppenberg climb. Then, disaster - Cant had a puncture and saw her disadvantage return to 10" while she got a replacement bike.

Sanne Cant puts her descending skills to good use at
Azencross 2012
That Cant had managed to shave off 6" by the time she began her final lap is testament to just how good she is - and how much skill she has, despite being nine years younger than Wyman. Had Wyman have punctured now, the outcome might have been very different, but it would be wrong to assume that the finishing order was entirely down to fate, that had Cant have not have punctured when she did the Belgians would have been celebrating (not that they didn't celebrate, of course - the Belgians celebrate cyclo cross, rather than individual winners), because it was the way that Wyman rode the final two climbs that really secured her victory - even at such a late stage in proceedings, she had the strength to double her lead and won by 8". This weekend brings the European Championships, and Wyman is evidently in a very good place from which to defend her title.

Cant's second place was deserved, as was Harris' third - the Derbyshire-born 26-year-old may have been 10" slower than Cant, but she was an impressive 40" faster than the next quickest of the group she'd escaped, Sophie de Boer who took fourth. Koppenbergcross is part of the BPost Bank Trofee, formerly the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee; Harris leads the series with a 29" advantage (note: the series is now decided by times accumulated in the constituent races, rather than by points as was previously the case), Wyman is second and Cant third at +01'01". (Full Trofee standings here.)

It was a tough race, and the parcours was completely different to a few days ago when I was here training," Wyman said afterwards. "I tried to make it count in the places where I knew I could make a difference, and it's great that I could halve my standings [in the BPost Trofee]. Perhaps if I'd sprinted to the finish I could have made up a little more, but I wanted to enjoy this victory."

Cant was upbeat too: "I've had a few difficult weeks but I was Helen's equal today," she said. "On the cobbles and the descent, I was slightly better than her, but on the climbs she was able to gain ground."

Harris has big plans
Following the race, Harris' Telenet-Fidea team announced that she has signed up for two more years - and the rider revealed that she has big plans. "I had other options including one from Specialized," she told Cycling News. "I thought about both options because I wanted to try racing on the road 100%. After a few weeks I realised that I'm a cross rider first and I will remain a cyclo cross racer. I want and hope to become World Champion, that's my main goal. That's why I will stay at Telenet-Fidea - because that's the place to be for that perspective."

Koppenbergcross Top 10
1 Helen Wyman
2 Sanne Cant
3 Nikki Harris
4 Sophie de Boer
5 Ellen van Loy
6 Pavla Havlikova
7 Githia Michiels
8 Gabby Durrin-Day
9 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau
10 Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn
Full result

Emma Pooley joins Lotto-Belisol
Pooley at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, 2012
Emma Pooley, rated one of the finest climbers in cycling and one of only the very few world-class climbers produced by Britain, will ride with the Lotto-Belisol team in 2013. The news was revealed by Lotto-Belisol via their Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.

Team manager Guy Kostermans also Tweeted...
Guy Kostermans ‏@GuyKostermans
@LB_Ladies: Bull's Eye with signing@PooleyEmma ! #proud.
Pooley, aged 31, is also known to be a very effective time trial rider, becoming British and World Champion in the discipline in 2010 (she was National Road Race Champion that year too, and National TT Champion in 2009). This, combined with her climbing skills, has brought her numerous General Classification victories, including at the last Tour de France Féminin in 2009.

European Cyclo Cross Championships Starters
Official site with parcours and more
Sanne Cant (Belgium)
Ellen van Loy (Belgium)
Veronika Blahova (Czech Republic)
Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic)
Margiet Kloppenberg (Denmark)
Lucie Chainel (France)
Lisa Heckmann (Germany)
Gabby Durrin-Day (Great Britain)
Nikki Harris (Great Britain)
Helen Wyman (Great Britain)
Sophie de Boer (Netherlands)
Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Netherlands)
Monique van de Ree  (Netherlands)
Livia Hanesova (Slovakia)
Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia)
Zuzana Vojtasova  (Slovakia)

Laura Verdonschot (Belgium, Junior)
Jana Czeczinkarova (Czech Republic, Junior)
Lenka Krzyzankova (Czech Republic, Junior)
Katerina Mudrikova (Czech Republic, Junior)
Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic, Junior)
Elena Vanickova (Czech Republic, Junior)
Martina Kukulova ((Czech Republic, U-23)
Vedula Kuntova Martina Kukulova ((Czech Republic, U-23)
Martina Mikulaskova Martina Kukulova (Czech Republic, U-23)
Karla Stepanova (Czech Republic, U-23)
Joanna Muller (Germany, Junior)
Jessica Lambracht (Germany, U-23)
Rachele Barbieri (Italy, Junior)
Chiara Galimberti  (Italy, Junior)
Rebecca Gariboldi (Italy, Junior)
Chiara Teocchi (Italy, Junior)
Elena Torcianti (Italy, Junior)
Alice-Maria Arzuffi (Italy, U-23)
Alessia Bulleri (Italy, U-23)
Jasmine Dotti  (Italy, U-23)
Giorgia Fraiegari (Italy, U-23)
Giovanna Michieletto  (Italy, U-23)
Deborah Soligo (Italy, U-23)
Elena Valentini (Italy, U-23)
Jamie Bierens (Netherlands, Junior)
Lotte Eikelenboom (Netherlands, Junior)
Yara Kastelijn (Netherlands, Junior)
Esmee Oosterman (Netherlands, Junior)
Lindy van Anrooij (Netherlands, Junior)
Annefleur Kalvenhaar (Netherlands, U-23)
Evy Kuijpers (Netherlands, U-23)
Sabrina Stultiens (Netherlands, U-23)
Lana Verberne (Netherlands, U-23)
Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia, Junior)

...little but depressing for we Brits that we can field three riders of such strength in the Elite but not a single Junior or Under-23 in the Youth, isn't it?

BBC Red Button to show Manchester Track World Cup
Full coverage will be broadcast via the Red Button digital channel and online, with nearly three hours of coverage on BBC2 on Sunday the 3rd of November. (If you're not in the UK, try set to "UK")

Friday November 1 (Women's Team Sprint, Team Pursuit & Scratch 10k)
12.00-17.45 Red button and online
19.00-21.45 Red button and online

Saturday November 2 (Women's Individual Pursuit & Sprint)
18.00-22.43 Red button and online

Sunday November 3 (Women's Omnium Final, Points Race & Keirin)
14.20-17.50 BBC 2

Racing schedule is here.

UCI angers Trofeo Binda organisers
2013 Binda winner Elisa Longo Borghini
Changes carried out by cycling's worldwide governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale have drawn the ire of organisers of one of the top races in women's cycling.

The Trofeo Alfredo Binda, in existence since 1974 and part of the World Cup since 2008, is one of the affected races. In 2014, it will take place as usual at the end of March (30th; it was the 24th in 2013), the same date as the newly-upgraded Gent-Wevelgem women's race, which will be classified as a 1.2 event from 2014. The Trofeo is popular with fans and riders alike for its unusually well-balanced parcours that does not favour any particular speciality, whereas Gent-Wevelgem is known as a sprinter's race - were the world's greatest sprinters to be other engaged in Belgium, the Trofeo would undoubtedly lose some of its attraction. Organisers Cycling Sport Promotion, who accuse the UCI of failing to preserve World Cup races, are sufficiently angered that they're threatening to pull out of the World Cup - or even no longer hold their race.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Thuringen Rundfahrt were displeased at the 21st-27th of July calendar slot they'd been given and threatened to pull the plug. The race has now been moved to the requested 14th-20th of July, following the removal of the Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden (which did not go ahead in 2013 due to financial problems) from the calendar.

Compton top in Tabor
Tabor would be a horrendously technical race in wet conditions with its grass sections, which would take all a rider's skill when made slippery by rain and then sap her strength as soon as they turned into mud - so the warm, sunny weather during this year's race will have been a much appreciated change to the sort of weather cyclo crossers get used to when competing in the sport's Belgian homeland.

Van Loy at Azencross 2012
For once, Helen Wyman wasn't fastest off the line with Belgian Ellen van Loy's lightning reactions giving her the quickest start. She didn't remain in the lead for long, though - Nikki Harris powered in front and looked like she meant to break away from the pack, but then Wyman got into gear and upped the tempo to close the gap.

Van Loy was on the case once again later in the race when Harris tried to get away once more, but the British rider was just too fast to catch. Before the end of the first lap, only six riders were anywhere near her - but then Katie Compton decided to take matters in hand and did what nobody else had been able to do, overtaking and taking charge of a group also consisting of van Loy, Harris, Cant, Pavla Havlikova and Christel Ferrier-Bruneau. Wyman, only metres behind, was hotly pursued by a second group made up of , Gabby Day, Kaitlin Antonneau and Lucienne Chainel-Lefevre; none of them could rival Compton.

Katie Compton
Then, near-disaster: as she reached the steps on the last lap, Compton ran into mechanical difficulties (gears? She looked to be stuck in a higher than ideal ratio) and looked for a short while as though she was going to have to shoulder her bike all the way to finish - she certainly seemed to think so, running with it once over the steps; but then decided she might as well remount and test her luck. Harris leaped at the chance and slashed the American's advantage to a few seconds, and had Compton's mechanical come only a few seconds earlier, Harris would almost certainly have come out on top. As it was, though, she'd been too close to the line for the outcome to change - Harris simply didn't have the time she needed and, in spite of a spectacularly fast sprint, finished six seconds down; Compton is, therefore, now leading the World Cup rankings.

Compton's victory was well-fought, well-deserved and exciting, but wass it a case of while the cat's (or the Fox, perhaps?) away, the mice will play? She was completely unable to compete with Marianne Vos at Valkenburg last week, but then gave her a real run for her money at Woerden and finished just six seconds down - a very good result when racing Vos off-road, because Vos rules 'cross even more convincingly than the road races, and more than enough to demonstrate that she'll be one of the strongest threats to Vos this season. The question now is, will Compton find the form - or will Vos lose it - over the next couple of months before the Dutch woman returns from a well-earned rest?

Tabor Top Ten
1 Katie COMPTON 43'41"
2 Nikki HARRIS 43'47"
3 Pavla HAVLIKOVA 43'48"
4 Christel FERRIER-BRUNEAU 44'18"
5 Sanne CANT ST
6 Meredith MILLER 44'28"
7 Ellen VAN LOY BEL 44'35"
8 Lucienne CHAINEL-LEFEVRE 44'37"
9 Kaitlin ANTONNEAU 44'46"
10 Sophie DE BOER 44'52"
Full result

Wyman wins Ruddervoorde as Brits take three out of four
Wyman's trademark turn of speed from the line proved unbeatable at the Superprestige Ruddervoorde, where strong rivals were unable to generate sufficient power to catch her on a parcours that always seems to suit the Hertfordshire-born rider - most riders have a type of terrain that they especially favour, but Wyman's ability to take all in her stride and perform well on whatever happens to be passing below her wheels at any point in a varied race such as this gives her a distinct competitive advantage, and she finished a full 27" ahead of fellow Brit and current National Champion Nikki Harris who took second place. Belgium's Sanne Cant was third and another Brit, Gabby Day, was fourth.

Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn was sixth and thus qualified for the European Championships, but will not take up her place due to back problems. "It was a tough decision and I have mixed feelings, but I prefer to concentrate on making a full recovery," said the 46-year-old, who still regularly beats riders two decades younger than herself.

Ruddervoorde Top Ten
1 Helen WYMAN 42'36"
2 Nikki HARRIS 43'03"
3 Sanne CANT 43'24"
4 Gabriella Day 43'24"
5 Ellen VAN LOY 44'25"
7 Loes SELS 45'14"
8 Yara KASTELIJN 45'31"
9 Joyce VANDERBEKEN 45'48"
10 Laura VERDONSCHOT 46'00"
Full result

More Women's Tour Details
SweetSpot, organisers of the new Women's Tour, have release more details. Stage 1 will start in Oundle, with the remainder of the day's parcours staying within Northamptonshire as previously reported. Stage 2 will start in Hinckley (Leicestershire) and will travel through Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire to end in Bedford. Further details and maps will be published in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Cambridge MP Julian Huppert (who can frequently be seen cycling around the city) seems to be taking an interest in the Women's Tour and has been retweeting news on it. Should Cambridge-based women's cycling fans get excited about this...?

New women's team for Plymouth, UK
South-west England's only professional cycling team Spin Rotor-Primal is to operate a women's team for the first time in 2014. The team, based in Plymouth, launched in 2010; two female riders have reportedly already been signed up and the full rosters will be announced in February.

Long-term performance enhancement from steroids, study suggests
The cycling world has long been split into those who believe that a rider found to have doped should be permitted a second chance once she or he reaches the end of a fitting ban and those who believe a "one strike and you're out" approach is the only way to effectively discourage unscrupulous athletes from turning to drugs for assistance.

Now the second group's argument may be about to be strengthened due to findings from a study carried out by the University of Oslo that seems to show that athletes who have used anabolic steroids may experience permanent performance-enhancing effects.

"Female mice were treated with testosterone propionate for 14 days, inducing a 66% increase in the number of myonuclei and a 77% increase in fibre cross sectional area," explained Professor Kristian Gundersen in a piece published by the Journal of Physiology. "Three weeks after removing the drug, fibre size was decreased to the same level as in sham treated animals, but the number of nuclei remained elevated for at least 3 months (>10% of the mouse lifespan). At this time, when the myonuclei-rich muscles were exposed to overload-exercise for 6 days, the fibre cross sectional area increased by 31% while control muscles did not grow significantly. We suggest that the lasting, elevated number of myonuclei constitutes a cellular memory facilitating subsequent muscle overload hypertrophy. Our findings might have consequences for the exclusion time of doping offenders." (Read the full abstract here; full article requires subscription).

Bans handed out to cyclists have been big news in women's cycling over the last month because of the return to the sport of Hanna Solovey after a two-year suspension. Solovey used steroids at the age of 19, but claims she was pressurised into doing so by a coach - a convincing defence that has been used by other young riders in the past (but not one that has prevented suspicion in the wake of her victory at the Chrono des Nations). If it can be proven that riders like Solovey still benefit from the effects of steroids after two years (far less than 15% of a human life span, and during shich she was presumably not using banned drugs), it would become much easier to construct a convincing argument in favour of life bans.

Koppenberg Starters
This weekend brings Koppenbergcross, the race that as far as many people are concerned is the biggest and best cyclo cross race of them all - you can see the parcours here, and the start list looks like this...

1 Sanne Cant
2 Helen Wyman
3 Nikki Harris
4 Ellen Van Loy
5 Pavla Havlikova 
6 Sabrina Stultiens 
7 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau 
8 Gabby Durrin-Day
9 Joyce Vanderbeken
10 Margriet Kloppenburg 
11 Reza Hormes 
12 Asa Maria Erlandsson 
13 Githa Michiels
14 Sophie de Boer 
15 Karen Verhestraeten
16 Hilde Quintens
17 Christine Vardaros 
18 Katrien Thijs
19 Stephanie De Croock
20 Loes Sels
21 Cindy Bauwens
22 Claire Beaumont 
23 Delia Beddis 
24 Axelle Bellaert
25 Cindy Diericx
26 Katleen Fraeye
27 Anja Geldhof
28 Sophia Joy 
29 Shana Maes
30 Petra Mermans
31 Ilona Meter 
32 Claire Smith 
33 Karine Temporelli 
34 Lindy van Anrooij 
35 Ilse Vandekinderen
36 Aurelie Vermeir
37 Sandie Verriest
38 Gertie Willems
39 Jolien Verschueren

Kloppenberg for Koppenberg?
Koppenbergcross features a highly technical section through the steeply-sloping field just north of the Steengat section of the Koppenberg itself, where the gradient approachs -30% - which is more than steep enough to be a problem in dry conditions, but makes things extremely difficult when the rough, tussocky grass is wet (which it looks like it will be, heavy rain being forecast all day on Friday). Excellent descent skills are, therefore, vital for anyone hoping to stand a chance of winning. According to Stef Wyman, who was there to train with Helen Wyman, the seven-time British champion and to whom he is married, nobody was descending as well as Margriet Kloppenberg on Wednesday.

Transfers and Team News
Karol-Ann Canuel
Argos-Shimano report that the team has a major new sponsor, to replace Argos (a Dutch oil company rather than the British chain of shops, as some people mistakenly believe).

“Very recently, a company expressed interest in taking over the main sponsorship. The new sponsor is a good fit with our ambitious team goals,” said general manager Iwan Spekenbrink via the team's website.

The new sponsor's name will be revealed soon, with further team details and jersey designs also expected.

Reports in the Canadian and Dutch news say Karol-Ann Canuel, riding for Vienne Futuroscope since 2010, will move to Specialized-Lululemon in 2014. It's also rumoured that Chantal Blaak is seeking a move from Tibco-To The Top.

Peta Mullens, who won the 2009 Australian Under-23 Road Race Championships and is currently National Cross Country MTB champion, is joining the British-registered Wiggle-Honda team owned and managed by fellow Australian Rochelle Gilmore. She'll be given the task of acting as lead-out for Giorgia Bronzini, but as one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton she'll undoubtedly have many chances to go for victories for herself too. Another Australian, the current Oceania Individual Time Trial Champion Taryn Heather, has signed a contract with Bigla.

Retired British rider Rachel Heal, who came close to winning the National Championships numerous times during the first half-decade of the 21st Century, won Stage 7 at the 2004 Tour de l'Aude, Stage 1 at the 2007 Tour of the Gila and Stage 4 at the same race a year later, is joining the management team at United HealthCare - which launches its first women's team for 2014. Working as a directeur sportif alongside Mike Tamayo, Hendrik Redant and Roberto Damiani, she will be involved with the development of both the women's and men's squads.

Matrix Racing reveals roster
Closer to home, Louise Borthwick has signed to the Matrix Racing Academy - which will race with a British licence (and a new name, yet to be revealed) in 2014, but will also make an appearance in several UCI events around Europe throughout the season and has its sights firmly set on a place at the Women's Tour. The team has also signed Sigrid Jochems, previously with Water, Land & Dijken, a rider whom manager Stef Wyman describes as "one of the fastest finishers" in women's cycling.

"We have put together a very strong line up of riders as we always aim to do," says Wyman. "We’ve been especially careful about how we have constructed the team this year. We know that a team that can perform in a UCI 2.1 race is very different to a team that can target wins in the many criteriums on the UK race calendar.  If we are going to be one of the lucky few teams to get a wildcard invitation for The Women’s Tour we will need to demonstrate we are not there to make up the numbers."

Matrix's full roster is: Bethany Hayward, Corrine Hall, Lora Turnham (who rides in paracycling tandem events with Hall as pilot), Harriet Owen, Jessie Walker, Jo Tindley, Louise Borthwick, Mel Lowther and Penny Rowson, who is rejoining Matrix after a year away. They are without a doubt the friendliest team in cycling; if you're not doing so already give them a follow on Twitter. (More from Stef on the team)

At a glance
Most of the teams have revealed their line-ups for 2014 now that transfer season is drawing to a close, though are some notable outfits that haven't yet announced full rosters. Here's what has been confirmed so far...

Marijn de Vries
Lucy Garner
Willeke Knol
Floortje Mackaij
Sara Mustonen
Maaike Polspoel
Julia Soek
Kirsten Wild
Kyara Stijns

Alice Algisi

Vera Koedooder
Taryn Heather

Lizzie Armitstead
Jessie Daams
Demi De Jong
Janneke Ensing
Megan Guarnier
Romy Kasper
Nina Kessler
Emma Trott
Ellen van Dijk
Marieke van Wanroij
Nicky Zijlaard
Christine Majerus
Katarzyna Pawlowska

Rossella Ratto
Erika Varela

Firefighters Upsala CK
Jessica Kihlbom
Christina Siggard
Linnea Sjoblom
Latoya Brulee
Kirsten Coppens
Sofie de Vuyst
Annelies Dom
Karen Elzing
Anouska Helena Koster
Evy Kuijpers
Mascha Pijnenborg
Janine van der Meer
Annelies van Doorslaer
Grace Verbeke

Hitec Products-UCK
Audrey Cordon
Lauren Kitchen
Elisa Longo Borghini
Ashleigh Moolman
Sara Olsson
Aude Biannic

Amy Cure
Jolien D'Hoore
Liesbeth de Vocht
Lieselot Decroix
Chantal Hoffmann
Molly Meyvisch
Isabelle Soderberg
Celine van Severen
Anisha Vekemans
Sara Verhaest
Valentina Scandolara
Grace Sulzberger
Emma Pooley

Carlee Taylor
Annette Edmondson
Gracie Elvin
Shara Gillow
Loes Gunnewijk
Melissa Hoskins
Emma Johansson
Jessie MacLean
Amanda Spratt

Kim de Baat
Sophie de Boer
Aafke Eshuis
Ilona Hoeksma
Riejanne Markus
Marissa Otten
Kristen Peetoom
Jermaine Post
Rozanne Slik
Lisanne Soemanta
Esra Tromp
Monique van de Ree
Bianca van den Hoek
Natalie van Gogh

People's Trust
Geerike Schreurs
Laura van der Kamp

Lucinda Brand
Thalita De Jong
Pauline Ferrand Prevot
Anna Knauer
Roxane Knetemann
Katarzyna Niewiadoma
Iris Slappendel
Sabrina Stultiens
Anna van der Breggen
Annemiek van Vleuten
Marianne Vos

Simone Eg
Hanna Helamb
Malin Nystrand
Anna Palsson
Julie Valgren Andersen
Kamilla Sofie Vallin
Amalie Winther Olsen

S.C. Michela Fanini-ROX
Beatrice Bafile
Michela Balducci
Carlotta Brui
Simona Crotti
Azzurra D'Intino
Mireia Epelde
Liisi Rist
Lara Vieceli
Yevgenia Vysotska

Natalia Boyarskaya
Elisabet Bru
Anna Potokina
Svetlana Bubnenknova

Elise Delzenne
Kristabel Doebel-Hickok
Jasmin Glaesser
Claudia Hausler
Amanda Miller
Shelley Olds
Samantha Schneider
Lauren Stephens
Anika Todd
Elizabeth Wilborne

Ellen van Loy

Topsport Vlaanderen-ProDuo-Ridley
Else Belmans
Gilke Croket
Nel de Crits
Nicky Degrendele
Demmy Druyts
Jessy Druyts
Kelly Druyts
Lenny Druyts
Alitcia Eijssen
Lotte Kopecky
Eva Maria Palm
Kelly van den Steen
Saartje Vandenbroucke

United Healthcare
Mara Abbott
Rushlee Buchanan
Alison Powers
Coryn Rivera
Alexis Ryan
Lauren Tamayo
Ruth Winder

Vienne Futuroscope
Sandrine Bideau
Charlotte Bravard
Oriane Chaumet
Fiona Dutriaux
Roxane Fournier
Pascale Jeuland
Lucie Pader
Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin
Amelie Rivat
Sarah Roy
Manon Souyris
Kimberley Wells

Emilia Fahlin 

Shorts and Interesting Links
Cookson's salary
Cookson - rolling in it, though not
to quite the same extent as McQuaid
New UCI president Brian Cookson will be paid an annual salary of 340,000 Swiss Francs (CHF), which is £235,526.84, 274,887.62 Euros or $378,999.02 as I type these words. That's a whole lot less than predecessor Pat McQuaid, who was on a cool half a million CHF (£346,623; 404,679 Euros; $557,351.50) - and a whole shitload less than an Elite professional female cyclist, since they're not even guaranteed a minimum wage by Cookson's organisation like Elite professional male cyclists are.

Track Cycling World Cup: Winning Olympic gold and fighting crime [with Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel) (BBC Sport)
Tour de France's rejection of women keeps cycling in the dark ages (The Guardian)
Williamson happy with form ahead of Manchester UCI Track Cycling World Cup (British Cycling)
Oundle In Northamptonshire To Host Opening Stage Of The Women's Tour In May (
Monica Bascio: Paralympic SportsWoman Of The Year (TeamUSA)
Jess Varnish wants to end a troubled year on a high in World Cup (The Guardian)
British Cycling to run its first ever women's-only coaching course (British Cycling)
Chloe McGonville claims yellow jersey in Tour of the Goldfields (The Courier)
Becky James relishing return to Britain next weekend (Wales Online)

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)

Saturday 12 October 2013

Women's Cycling News 13-20.10.2013

UCI events this week - LATEST: Jessie Daams, 2013 Flandrienne - Teute retires - Design the World Cup jersey competition - UCI Women's Commission - Vos to undergo further surgery for back pain... but wins her first CX race of the season - Van Paassen to miss start of CX season - Stultiens' sore knee - D'hoore earns BA - VeloJam results - Transfers and Team News - Shorts and Interesting Links: 2016 Olympic parcours?; Van Wanroij to retire at end of 2014 - Tweet of the Week - More news as it happens...

UCI Elite Women's events this week: Chrono des Nations (20.10.2013)

LATEST: Jessie Daams, 2013 Flandrienne
"Flandrienne," and the male equivalent "Flandrien," are not terms to be bandied about in cycling. They refer only to a very select few, and must be earned. Indeed, there are those that say there was only ever one Flandrien, and that was Briek Schotte - perhaps the toughest of an especially tough breed of Belgian riders.

Once a year the Belgian cycling establishment gathers together for the Gala van de Flandrien, a glitzy soiree (which really couldn't be any more different from the sort of race in which the title is earned) where a panel of fourteen experts chooses a pair of riders - one man, one woman - who in their opinion have best personified the characteristics of the Flandrien throughout the cycling season. This year, they chose Jessie Daams of Boels-Dolmans for Flandrienne.

Daams is only 23, but this year she completed every round of the World Cup and finished the Giro Rosa, the last Grand Tour in women's cycling. She finished far from the top in both events, but a rider becomes a Flandrienne through her grit and determination, not according to the number of trophies in her cabinet.

She faced some stiff competition: Liesbet de Vocht and Maaike Polspoel were both nominated too, but Daams was awarded 51 points compared to de Vocht's 49 and Polspoel's 43. "I certainly wasn't expecting to beat Liesbet de Vocht," she said after receiving the honourary title. "I owe it to my consistency. In the future, I'd like to go for a good ranking in a stage race, or perhaps a shoot-out on a classic climb."

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg announces retirement
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg
She's been saying for years that she'd retire at the age of 38 and now the legendary Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has made it official by announcing she will not return to professional cycling - just days before her 39th birthday.

Teutenberg, who turned professional in 2000 and won more than 200 races over her career, originally took up cycling as a child because she hated being left out of anything her two older brothers (ex-professional riders Lars and Sven) did. She was forced to miss most of the 2013 season following a horrific crash that left her with serious concussion, but fans had hoped she might make a come-back in 2014 - with her humour and reputation for speaking her mind, she has long been one of the most popular riders on the circuit.

"This isn't the way I had hoped to say goodbye," said Teutenberg, who joined T-Mobile in 2005 and has remained with the team through its long transformation into Specialized-Lululemon ever since. "I've considered staying in the sport for another year, but I've decided now is the time to stop."

UCI launch Women's World Cup jersey competition
Think the current jerseys in the UCI Women's Road World Cup are a bit dull and could do with an update? Think that <insert name of favoured rider> would look especially good in <insert colour of jersey>? Well, now you can have a go at making that happen, because the UCI have launched a competition giving fans the chance to design new jerseys for the four classifications that will feature in the race series from 2013 - the overall winner, the Points winner, the Mountains winner and the best Young rider. You'll also be in with a chance of winning a trip to a World Cup event.

Les Deesses' virtually-guaranteed-
to-win entry
The competition has met with a mixed reception with some fans and journalists dismissing it as a gimmick, while others are more worried asking fans to design the jerseys rather than pay a graphic designer is indication the UCI's much talked-up plans to give women's cycling the sort of backing it achieves will be done on the cheap. Others are more positive, arguing that it's a clever way to encourage more people to engage in the sport.

You can enter the competition and read the rules on the UCI website. Be warned, though - you'll face some stiff competition from the Deesses Graphic Design Department...

UCI Women's Commission confirmed
It's been rumoured for a long time, now Brian Cookson - who became president of the UCI after defeating Pat McQuaid in an election last month - has confirmed that cycling's governing body is to gain a women's cycling commission charged with looking at ways the sport can be developed.

McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen were frequently accused by riders and fans of not doing enough for women's cycling and, more damningly, not caring, and would often brush the subject aside when it was raised by journalists or by riders, as at the 2011 World Championships. There are some who claim that Cookson doesn't care as much as he has claimed, but the establishment of a commission devoted to the sport is a big step into the future - and, hopefully, a sign of more positive steps to come.

Vos, photographed here at the Fleche
Wallonne, has been suffering serious
back pain for most of the season. Being
Vos, she's still managed 38 wins so far
in 2013
Vos to undergo further surgery for back pain
Excellent results - including the World Championship - following a break from racing earlier this year seemed to suggest Marianne Vos' back problems were over, but the Dutch star has revealed that she'll go under the knife for a small operation that will hopefully rid her once and for all of the pain she's been feeling all season.

Vos underwent medical treatment and took a week out in August, but doctors were unable to find the underlying cause of her pain. Speaking to De Telegraaf, the 26-year-old explained that it might be down to a cyst. "Maybe that's the culprit," she said. "It could well be that the cyst is pressing against a nerve and causing the pain in my lower back.

"I know it's not right, especially during a 'cross race. That's an outright attack on your body. The last laps were not pleasant, oh no," she added, referring to the race she won in front of a home crowd at Den Bosch last weekend (see below).

Via the Rabobank team website, Vos clarified that the matter - and the operation to rectify it - is very minor: "The cyst isn't in my back, but in the abdominal cavity. It could be that it is the cause of my back pain , but the chance of this is small according to the doctors. My back is much better now than during the road season, though it's still a little sensitive. It's a simple procedure, but worthwhile. The doctors said it wasn't urgent, so the operation could take place during a less-busy period, in the break I already had planned after Woerden, so all is well. It doesn't damage by preparation for the second part of the cyclo cross season and I can quickly return to my training regime after the surgery."

She'll undergo surgery at the end of this month and plans to return to racing shortly afterwards.

...but wins her first CX race of the season
...and she did it in front of a home crowd at Den Bosch, the city in the Netherlands where she was born in 1987. Rabobank-Liv/Giant road race team mate Sabrina Stultiens was second, seven-time British National CX Champion Helen Wyman was third, current British National CX Champion Nikki Harris was fourth and rising Dutch star Sophie de Boer was fifth.

Van Paassen to miss start of CX season, may require surgery
Sanne van Paassen
Sanne van Paassen hasn't been quite as fortunate as her Rabobank team mate Marianne Vos and looks unlikely to be able to compete during the first months of the cyclo cross season due to pain in her knees.

"I'm having problems with both legs when I cycle, but the left leg is especially painful when I ride hard," van Paassen, who will turn 25 years of age on the 27th of October, explained to "Last weekend, on a ride, I realised that I really cannot compete at the moment."

"Actually, the doctors have found two probable causes," says the Dutch rider, who was second at Gent-Wevelgem in March. "I have a kink in the femoral artery and cysts in both my knees. Unfortunately, they're not agreed as to which of the two problems is the main cause of the pain. If surgery is necessary I won't hesitate to go under the knife, but I'll want to know for certain the surgery will relieve my symptoms. It'll be very tempting to get back on the bike as soon as I've had surgery, but it's important than I think in the long term and don't take unnecessary risks."

Stultiens suffers sore knee
Stultiens at the Tour of Thuringia, 2012
Meanwhile, a third Rabo team mate has been experiencing medical problems this week - 20-year-old Sabrina Stultiens, Junior National Cyclo Cross Champion in 2011 and third place in the Elite National Cyclo Cross Championship earlier this year, is also suffering pain in her knee and as a result cannot take part in the first round of the World Cup due to go ahead at Valkenburg this weekend.
Sabrina Stultiens ‏@STULTIENS_S
Stiekem gehoopt op 'n wonder tijdens m'n testritje voor morgen. nog te veel last aan m'n knie waardoor ik morgen niet start in WB Valkenburg
("I was secretly hoping for a miracle for tomorrow when I went on my training ride but it was just too hard on my knee, so tomorrow I won't start in Valkenburg")
"I want to ride - it's my home province, "Stultiens says. "However, I can't risk long-term injury. There are other important races this winter - the European Championships in January, and the other championships."

Jolien D'hoore earns bachelor's degree
Jolien D'hoore
Somehow finding time to study this year despite her busy racing schedule, sprint specialist Jolien D'hoore has just won a bachelor's degree in physiotherapy and rehabilitation techniques.

D'hoore, who was born in Merelbeke, East Flanders in 1990, rides for the Lotto-Belisol team. "Now I can turn my full attention to cycling," she says - with some excellent results in 2013, she'll be certain to impress come the new season.

Chapeau Jolien!

VeloJam Results
Elite Omnium
1 Sarah Connell (Briston Cycles) 23
2 Anna Railton (ASL360) 23
3 Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel) 20
4 Lucy Harper (Welwyn Cycles) 10
5 Jayne Paine (Wildsen Cycles) 10
6 Anna-Marie Hughes (Prestige VC) 6

B-Category Omnium
1 Alexis Barnes (Cardiff Ajax) 24
2 Amy Good (VCL) 18
3 Emma Towers (Twickenham CC) 17
4 Christine Robson 14
5 Hannah Cannell 10
6 Zoe Lewis (VCL) 7

Go Race Omnium
1 Sarah Walsh 23
2 Tanya Griffiths 16
3 Gemma Marshall 10
4 Charlotte Roberge 8
5 Katie Atherton 6
6 Fiona Leonard 6

Sarah Connell won the Combativity prize (a pair of Hope OpenPro wheels)

More - VeloJam Huge Success (Track Cycling News)

Transfers and Team News
Transfers at-a-glance
As is usual at this time of year, staff at the Rumour Mill have been working overtime - but, at long last, we know where Marijn de Vries is going. Marijn, an enormously popular rider due at least in part to her willingness to chat with fans on Twitter has expected to leave Lotto-Belisol for several weeks now, but there've been no reliable hints as to where she might go. Confirmation was received on the 18th of October that she'll ride for Argos-Shimano, which is also taking on Julia Soek (previously Sengers) and Sara Mustonen (previously Faren-Kuota). Meanwhile, it seems that the team will retain Willeke Knol for another season, rather than releasing her as was previously reported.

Aude Biannic, who just missed out on a bronze medal at the European Under-23 Individual Time Trial and won the controversial Stage 4 of the Giro Toscana (against a much-reduced field; most of the riders having abandoned en masse in protest at the dangerous conditions to which they'd be exposed during the previous stages), has signed to the Spanish Lointek team, which is losing Anna Potokina to Servetto-Zhiraf - Servetto-Zhiraf, the new name for Servetto-Footon, is also taking Svetlana Bubnenkova (who won the Chrono Champenois in 1993!) and Nataliya Boyarskaya (who won the GP of Maykop and Tour of Adygeya in 2013).

Rytger, the Danish-based team that is moving up to the Elite ranks for the first time in 2014, has signed Malin Nystrand; it appears that Rytger will not now be taking on Amalie Winther Olsen or Christina Siggaard, who were reported to be joining the team last week. Siggaard, previously with Restore Cycling, is going to Firefighters Upsala CK, a US/Swedish team that raises funds for and awareness of firefighters suffering chronic and terminal illnesses; it is not known what's happening with Winther Olsen

Jessica Allen, previously with Vienne Futuroscope, is going to the team of the National Cycling Centre Hamilton, an organisation set up to find and develop promising Canadian riders. Vienne Futuroscope is taking on the Australian Sarah Roy (previously Futurumshop), 21-year-old Charlotte Bravard, 20-year-olds Lucie Pader (previously Bourgogne-ProDialogue) and Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin (previously Kenda-RACC) and current Australian Criterium Champion the devastatingly fast sprinter Kimberly Wells (previously Fearless Femme-Pure Energy). Manon Souyris, Oriane Chaumet, Sandrine Bideau, Pascale Jeuland, Amelie Rivat and Fiona Dutriaux remain with the team, while Emmanuel Merlot is retiringIt's not yet known what is happening with Karol-Ann Canuel and Jennifer Letue.

Jolien D'hoore and Celine van Severen are confirmed as staying at Lotto, while the team is taking on Luxembourgian Chantal Hoffmann (previously WC De Sprinters Malderen), Isabelle Soderberg (previously Cramo-Go:Green), Lieselot Decroix (previously CycleLive Plus-Zannata) and 17-year-olds Sara Verhaest and current Walloon Junior Road Race and ITT Champion and Molly Meyvisch (owner of what may be the cutest name in cycling, Molly is the daughter of Herve, whom some people might remember as a domestique on Carrera Jeans back in the early 1990s).

Dalia Muccioli will stay at BePinkValentina Scandolara - who, remarkably, is still only 23 despite seeming to have appeared in the top ten of every race for ages - is leaving MCipollini-Giordana to go to Orica-AIS, an interesting development and one that is likely to suit her very well. Orica are also taking on Carlee Taylor from Lotto-Belisol, and Grace Sulzberger who won a silver medal for the ITT at the Australian Nationals this year, and will keep Amanda Spratt, Jessie Maclean, Emma Johansson, Melissa Hoskins, Shara Gillow, Gracie Elvin and Annette Edmondson. Gu Sung Eun and Tiffany Cromwell (Orica in 2013) have not provided confirmation of where they'll be in 2014.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma is staying at Rabobank-Liv/Giant, which will take on Anna Knauer who, despite being only 18, has ten National titles, one European title and a World title to her name. Christelle Ferrier-Bruneau, previously with Faren-Kuota, is retiring; Faren-Kuota is taking on the Mexican rider Erika Varela who made headlines earlier this year when photographs emerged which apparently showed her being physically attacked by a coach

Brunello Fanini's Giro Toscana isn't on the 2014 calendar following the riders' protest at unsafe conditions this year, but he has no plans to close down his S.C. Michela Fanini-ROX team - Simona Crotti, Beatrice Bafile and Michela Balducci and joining for 2014. Meanwhile, the team loses Lisa Gamba who is retiring from professional cycling at just 19 years of age; while Edwige Pitel, Carlotta Brui, Lara Vieceli, Yevgenia Vysotska, Mireia Epelde and Azzurra D'Intino all remain onboard, as does Liisi Rist.

Several other riders will be retiring. They are:
Sara Grifi and Sylwia Kapusta (both MCipollini-Giordana), Alessandra d'Ettorre (Vaiano-Fondriest), Noemi Cantele (BePink), Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Specialized-Lululemon; see above), Francesca Stefani (Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo) and Kim Schoonbaert (Lotto-Belisol) - Schoonbaert explains her decision to do so here.

Epic Cycles-Scott Contessa, the new British team announced in August, has signed Molly Weaver and Elle Hopkins, who were previously with Breast Cancer Care, and Hannah Walker from the Matrix Racing Academy. The team also includes Karla Boddy and Melissa Brand (both previously MG-Maxifuel); Anna ChristianAlex Greenfield and Emily Kay (all previously Scott Contessa-Epic)Laura Massey and Alexie Shaw.

Shorts and Interesting Links
Is this the 2016 Olympic parcours?
A map, apparently showing the route of the Road Race and Time Trial at the 2016 Olympics, has appeared online with two-and-a-half years still to go until the Games. You can see the .pdf here.

There is at present no evidence in favour or against it being genuine, nor if it's a finalised route or one of several under consideration if it is real, but the map is accurate (if simplified) with the route plotted on roads that do exist just south of Rio, in between Catete and Copacabana. The altitude profile looks a little strange, but the Corcovado area (a national park) does reach 400m above sea level, as shown on the profile 10km from the start; however, the road only reaches approximately 250m. If genuine it'd be a serious climb, gaining 400m in 4km at an average gradient of 10%, but a profile created for the same route by Velofocus looks sufficiently similar to suggest that the route uses roads that already exist and the creator of the map has used an incorrect altitude scale. Two smaller climbs between the first and the 20km point look to be even steeper.

Van Wanroij to retire at end of 2014
Van Wanroij is looking to the future
Marieke van Wanroij, who announced recently that she's signed up for another season with her Boels-Dolmans team, says she plans to retire from cycling at the end of 2014 - when she'll be 35 years old.

"I would like to win a race this season," van Wanroij says, but explains that doing so isn't the main aim of her final year: she will concentrate on acting as mentor to the team's two new youthful signings Demi de Jong and Nicky Ziljaard. "When our directeur sportif Danny Stam called me to ask if I'd like to take on a guiding role for them, I was immediately enthusiastic. It's good to know that my efforts to motivate the team are appreciated. I've been thinking of taking up coaching in the future and this is a good intermediate step, a season to work out if that's really what I want to do."

Full team statement here.

Interesting Links
Photo: Nikki Harris remembers Amy Dombroski (Kramon)
Compton solos to victory in Colorado Cross Classic (Cycling Weekly)
Joanna Rowsell wants Great Britain to continue Team Pursuit domination (British Cycling)
Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell would love to see Women's Tour de France (The Daily Telegraph)
Specialized debuts women's recreational triathlon bike (Bicycle Retailer)
Laura Trott: life as a road rider is hard for my sister Emma (Daily Telegraph)
Le SENS de l'HUMOUR et le BON SENS de Marianne VOS! (Gwena)
British Cycling plan for one million more women riders on track (BBC)

Tweet of the Week
Marijn de Vries ‏@marijnfietstO jongens, als jullie toch zouden weten waar ik nu zit dan zouden sommigen van jullie best met me willen ruilen. 
("Oh guys, if you knew where I am right now, some of you would want to swap with me." - Intriguing stuff!)