Thursday 13 February 2014

Women's Tour a waste of money, says idiot councillor

Unless you live in Welwyn Garden City, you've probably never heard of Martyn Levitt. He is one of the city's councillors and, as such, you'd have thought he'd be a man with a good understanding of the issues that affect modern society. Things like how a sedentary life style causes poor health, which in turn causes misery and detriment to the economy, for example. Perhaps you'd also expect him to understand that a very good way to encourage people to live a more active lifestyle is a good way to prevent all that.

The Women's Tour is a
waste of money, thinks
Martyn Levitt
Not Mr Levitt, though. Mr. Levitt proved he's entirely incapable of understanding all this when he spoke to local newspaper the Welwyn Hatfield Times recently on the topic of the Women's Tour, which has become the most talked-about cycling race to have taken place in Britain for many years - and is one of the most talked-about races in the cycling world overall.

For Mr. Levitt, the Tour is not exciting, nor fun, nor a superb way to encourage more of the population he serves to get on their bikes and enjoy all the myriad benefits that cycling brings. Oh no. For him,the £50,000 that Welwyn's council put towards the race is all just a waste of money.

"When I have been a councillor for Haldens, I have wanted to get litter bins and I can't get litter bins, I'm told we don't have money. But we have money to fritter away on this," Mr. Levitt told the newspaper.

"The Tour of Britain had Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, household names. It got very little television coverage, what hope is there [that the Women's Tour] will raise £50,000?"

Ultimately, it shouldn't matter to the likes of Mr. Levitt whether his council is paid back the full sum it has put towards the Tour because it's been shown time and time again that the moire people cycle, the better off a town becomes - roads require less maintenance and fewer car[parks need to be built, efforts to monitor and limit air pollution can be scaled back and if even a few of the locals who see it fall in love with cycling and decide to get out on the bike once in a while, the likely savings for the local health authorities are far greater than £50,000. What's more, those people will be healthier and happier - and you can't put monetary value on that.

Mr. Levitt says that come the local elections in May, he will step down. That's all for the best, because he has no idea what he's talking about.

Welwyn residents can tell Mr. Levitt why he's wrong. Find his contact details on the council's website.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Les Déesses

Regular readers - assuming, that is, that I have any of those - may be aware that I've recently become involved with a new website named Neutral Service.

Neutral Service has the potential to become much more than this blog ever was. We're aiming to become nothing less than the central point for anyone looking for information on women's competitive cycling here in Britain and on races taking place abroad when there's a significant British interest (and probably when there isn't, too, if the race takes our fancy; because we love the sport).

Editing and writing for Neutral Service in addition to maintaining Les Déesses and Cyclopunk is becoming a bit too much. After all, I also have to go to work, and find time to waste dicking about on the rest of the Internet, drinking too much and eating biscuits. Something's gotta give - and since just about everything I've done here can now go on Neutral Service, it's going to be this one.

I'm not going to shut down the blog entirely because I'll always need to have a place where I can voice opinions that might not be suitable for putting elsewhere - stuff like my personal feelings regarding certain figures in the cycling world that perhaps veer into libel, and all the fanboy stuff about Marianne Vos.

So, if you still want to read my women's cycling news reports and race previews, click here (and if you want to help out on Neutral Service, click here).


Sunday 9 February 2014

Harris wins Superprestige Hoogstraaten

With many top riders choosing to stay away from Hoogstraten's Vlaamse Aardbeiencross round of the Superprestige, due at least partly to the Series' apparent lack of interest in women's cycling (as expressed by Superprestige president Etienne Gevaert in this VeloNation interview), many fans wishing to choose a favourite for victory will have selected between just two names - Britain's Nikki Harris, who was second here in 2011, and Belgian Champion Sanne Cant, who won last year.

Cant rode hard to beat Vos and Wyman at Krawatencross, where Harris was fourth, just 24 hours before this race; but she's proved many times before that she's very capable of making a rapid recovery from extreme effort and coming back even stronger. When you're the female 'Cross Champ of Belgium you have no other choice because you're in demand every weekend - despite what a dinosaur like Gevaert thinks. Cant's also known to be a very, very good rider on sand, so the long sandpit leading to the finish line was likely to do her some favours.

Harris, meanwhile, is very, very good in the mud - and although conditions two hours before the race began were reported to be dry (and windy), heavy rain had fallen several times in the week prior to the race and had left the parcours muddy for most of its length. This, in the end, gave her the advantage she needed.

More details to come...

1 Nikki Harris (GBR)
2 Sanne Cant (BEL)
3 Jolien Verschueren (BEL)

More results to come....

Women's Cycling News 08-15.02.2014

Cyclo Cross -- Road -- Track -- Other

Got a story you think we should know about? Get in contact!

Stultians halts season early
 Rabo 'cross and road rider Sabrina Stultiens has been suffering with a chest infection, which she thought she'd shaken off - however, she explained that recovering from her illness has taken longer than she expected (in Dutch;

This is not the first time the 20-year-old, who was Junior National Cyclo Cross Champion in 2011, has been forced to sit out races this season - she was also unable to ride the first round of the 'Cross World Cup at Valkenburg back in October due to a painful knee.


Video: Marianne Vos on La Course at the Tour de France (
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio retains SA title (Sport 24)
Olympic cyclists to race in Northamptonshire (Northamptonshire Telegraph)
Paige Milward headhunted to join new development team (The Sentinel)
Bigla team presentation (Pez)
Qatar women's team targets 2016 Worlds (Cycling News)
...Sheikh Khalid: "We are focusing on two fronts to develop women’s cycling. We are working towards developing a mass base for the sport, and trying to nurture stronger girls who can compete for Qatar" (Gulf Times)
...Hosking has 2016 vision in Qatar (Cycling News)
A longer course and bigger prize pot awaits entrants to this year’s edition of the Cheshire Classic (Northwich Guardian)
...PEDAL POWER: Gruelling race in store for cyclists (Northwich Guardian)


GB aim for strong showing at Track Cycling World Championships (Yahoo Sport)
Great Britain team for Track World Championships announced (Cycling Weekly)
Wiasak’s World Championships (Lithuania Tribune)  


Redditch Road & Path Cycling Club were the proud hosts of the first ever women's only British Cycling Go Ride (Redditch Standard)

Cant beats Vos at Krawatencross; Helen Wyman third

SanneCantBeating the World Champion must feel great. When that World Champion is Marianne Vos, and you also beat the European Champion Helen Wyman, it must feel absolutely fantastic - which explains Belgian Champion Sanne Cant's delight as she took the top step of the podium following Saturday's BPost Bank Trofee Krawatencross race at Lille. The victory was sweetened yet further due to the Belgian having been fourth  at last weekend's World Championships where Vos won and Wyman was third - and by the fact that Vos won this very race for the last two years, beating Cant (3rd 2012, 2nd 2013) on both occasions. Wyman, who is British Champion for the eighth time this season as well as European Champion for the second time, seemed unable to match Cant and Vos as the race progressed and left the pair fighting a private battle all of their own, each rider refusing to back down all the way to the final approach to the finish. With the race looking certain to end in a sprint the majority of fans will have been expecting Vos to add yet another victory to her spectacular palmares despite Cant's skill on a sandy parcours such as this, but then the Dutch superstar's foot slipped from the pedal. She probably lost no more than a fraction of a second, but it was enough: Cant noticed and attacked hard, taking the tiny advantage that was she needed to triumph. Wyman will also be pleased with her result: she's never stood on the podium at this race before. The only other British rider was Nikki Harris, who took fourth place. Although Wyman still leads the series overall, her advantage is now just 31" to Cant (Harris is third at +1'11"). The final round, taking place at Oostmalle on the 23rd of February, promises therefore to be one of the season highlights. Helen Wyman's race report Video: Cant wins Krawatencross Krawatencross Full Result 1  Sanne Cant (Enertherm - Bkcp)  BEL 2  Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women Team)  NED 3  Helen Wyman (Kona)  GBR 4  Nikki Harris (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team Young NPI)  GBR 5  Loes Sels (Young Telenet Fidea)  BEL 6  Sophie De Boer (Kdl Cycling Team)  NED 7  Yara Kastelijn (Rtc Buitenlust)  NED 8  Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea)  BEL 9  Pavla Havlikova (Young Telenet - Fidea)  CZE 10  Githa Michiels (Toka Print Mtb Team)  BEL 11 Karen Verhestraeten (Sengers Ladies Cycling Team) BEL 12 Reza Ravenstijn-Hormes NED 13 Jolien Verschueren (Dncs/pro 2012 Cycling Team) BEL 14 Esmee Oosterman (Wrv DE Peddelaars) NED 15 Laura Verdonschot (Vzw Lotto - Ladiescycling) BEL 16 Maud Kaptheyns NED 17 Katrien Thijs (UP Cycling Team) BEL 18 Hilde Quintens BEL 19 Lotte Eikelenboom (Drc De Mol) NED 20 Kim Banga NED 21 Christine Vardaros (Baboco - Revor Cycling Team) USA 22 Shana Maes BEL 23 Ilona Meter (Rcp Stevens) NED 24 Nele Van Maldeghem BEL 25 Suzie Godart LUX 26 Suzanne Verhoeven NED 27 Gertie Willems BEL 28 Meg De Bruyne BEL 29 Lena Bischoff-Stein 30 Nathalie Nijns BEL 31 Tine Verdeyen BEL 32 Lene Vrijsen BEL 33 Mara Schwager GER 34 Caren Commissaris (UP Cycling Team) BEL 35 Valerie Boonen BEL 36 Laura Krans NED 37 Anja Geldhof BEL 38 Brenda Kaczmarczyk BEL 39 Yenthe Boons BEL 40 Jessika Timmermans BEL 41 Cindy Diericx BEL 42 Britta Werners GER 43 Caitlyn La Haye BEL 44 Sandra Sintobin BEL

More News...Shorts and Links

Friday 7 February 2014

Tour of Qatar - Stage 4 - Wild wins stage and fourth GC

Dutch sprinter Kirsten Wild finished first in a bunch sprint against some formidable opponents including devastatingly fast Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda), who was second, and Melissa Hoskins of Orica-AIS who was third.

Wild's Giant-Shimano team once again kept tight control on the race and saw to it that the many attacks they knew they'd face were kept strictly in check, with Wild herself ensuring a late attempt by Orica's Emma Johansson was thwarted. A few riders managed to get away in the last 10km, but Wild was simply too strong and soon put them back in their places. Following bonification, Wild's victory earned her a 22" General Classification advantage over the second-placed rider, her team mate Amy Pieters - who won Stage 2 and finishes as leading rider in the Youth category.
Wild won the first and second stages, too; her domination of the race is even more impressive due to the fact that she has now won the General Classification four times, having also triumphed in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
More details and results to come...
Stage 4 Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) 2h06'23"
2 Giorgia BRONZINI (Wiggle-Honda) ST
3 Melissa HOSKINS (Orica-AIS) ST
4 Trixi WORRACK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
5 Jolien D'HOORE (Lotto-Belisol) ST
6 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) ST
7 Pascale JEULAND (France NT) ST
8 Roxane FOURNIER (France NT) ST
9 Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) ST
10 Xiao Ling LUO (China Chong Ming) ST
Full result: stage / GC

End of the road for the Star Zeeuwsche Eilanden

Chantal Blaak winning Stage 2, 2011
(image: Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden)

For the second year in a row the Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden has been cancelled, with organiser Stichting Wielercomité Koudekerke stating that this is now likely to be the permanent end of the race which has been in existence since 1998.

"We've not been able to fill the hole left by the sponsor we lost, and [Potential new] sponsors remain reluctant so we're feeling the financial crunch," Wim Polderman of the Stichting Wielercomité Koudekerke explained. "We made this decision with heavy hearts, because several teams and volunteers had already signed up for 2014. I emphasise that the Committee continues, and our podiumwagen and jurybus remain available."
The race, first held in 1998, was open to professional and club riders and has been won by some of the most famous names in the sport including Hanka Kupfernagel, Leontien van Moorsel, Mirjam Melchers, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild who won a record three times.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Tour of Qatar Stage 3

With Stage 3 staying close to the eastern coastline for much of its 93.5km, teams expected yet more crosswinds today and were entirely correct in doing so: the bunch was split up early on once again as riders battled to make progress - Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) later described it as "seriously one of the hardest races I have done." A group of 28, including all those who went into the race with a reasonable chance of winning, got away and led for most of the day.

In the final kilometres the lead group had been whittled down to a dozen, and as the finish drew near it looked as though Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), who is the only British rider in the race, would also be the only rider able to challenge the mighty Kirsten Wild, despite the Dutch rider's Giant-Shimano squad having kept tight reins on the race all the way. However, Wild's famously powerful sprint proved too much and she had little difficulty in retaining her lead across the finish line to win a third stage for the team. Armitstead was right behind her, taking second place and an identical time, while Hosking was third.

Following bonification, Wild takes back the overall lead from team mate Amy Pieters (winner of Stage 2) and now has an advantage of 9" - and seems a safe bet for anyone wanting to predict tomorrow's results, too.

Stage 3 Top Ten
1 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) 2h27'34"
2 Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) ST
3 Chloe HOSKING (Hitec Products) ST
4 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) ST
6 Barbara GUARISCHI (Ale-Cipollini) ST
7 Trixi WORRACK (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
8 Elena CECCHINI (Italy NT) ST
9 Amy PIETERS (Giant-Shimano) ST
10 Loes GUNNEWIJK (Orica-AIS) ST
Full result: stage / GC

Monday 3 February 2014

British hope at the Tour of Qatar

Somewhat surprisingly, considering the enormous upsurge in interest in women's cycling in Britain and the number of world-class athletes from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland making their mark on the cycling scene in recent years, British hopes for a Tour of Qatar victory rest on the shoulders of just one rider - even the British-registered team Wiggle-Honda will compete without a Brit.

Armitstead is the only British rider at this
year's Tour of Qatar
However, as that one rider is Lizzie Armitstead, who is currently ranked 17th among Elite Women worldwide by the UCI, there's still a very good chance of a British victory - not least of all because Qatar is made up of the sort of windy, flat stages that usually result in bunch sprints which suit a rider equipped with Armitstead's super-fast sprint abilities (she was, after all, second to Marianne Vos as the 2012 Olympics - and Vos is popularly acclaimed as the greatest rider of her generation), and because she has a strong Boels-Dolmans squad made up of Romy Kasper, Christine Majerus, Katerzyna Pawlowska and Marieke Van Wanroij backing her up.

If the gold General Classification jersey seems out of reach, Armitstead could instead aim for the silver Points competition jersey - a stage win combined with good performances in the intermediate sprints would put her in with a good chance at this. However, with no climbs anywhere in the race, all the teams will be sending the best sprinters they have and she'll face stiff competition for each and every point.

The race covers 388km split into four stages, some of them familiar from previous editions of the Tour.

Stage 1, extending for 97km, is a carbon copy of 2013's Stage 1 which was won by Australian Chloe Hosking of Hitec Products-UCK. Hosking has been one of the finest sprinters in the world for a few years now and has continued to improve; racing for Hitec again this year, she'll be one of Armitstead's strongest rivals for stage victory and the overall General Classification.

The riders will cross the finish line twice, first after 35.5km from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and then again at the end of the race 61.5km later. When they do so for the first time they'll enter the first of two intermediate sprints; the second intermediate sprint on the desert road heading east to Al Wakra.

Stage 2 starts at Al Zubara, a ruined city with a fort that looks medieval but in fact dates from 1938. Heading north-east along exposed coastal roads, the riders can expect very powerful crosswinds all the way to their first arrival at Al Ruwais. This may split the peloton, but it's unlikely that we'll see breakaways here as riders will concentrate on forming echelons for shelter.

At Al Ruwais, they'll turn and ride almost all the way across the country to Athba; since they'll now be heading away from the east coast, a strong tail wind could make this a very fast section of the stage and once again prevent breakaways. After a short stretch north to Al Gariyah, they turn west and begin riding back to Al Ruwais, this time battling a headwind. Having crossed the finish line for the first time they'll begin four laps around Madinat Al Shamal with intermediate sprints the second and fourth times they cross the line before finishing on the fifth after 112.3km.

Stage 2 in 2012 started and ended at the same points, but followed a different parcours that led east across the desert rather than north along the coast, making it an entirely different sort of race. Trixi Worrack won that day; she's back leading the Specialized-Lululemon team this year, but with the changes to the route it's impossible to say whether she has more chance at winning than her rivals this year - and since victory is likely to go to a rider able to generate a sprint-winning high wattage after fighting the wind for so much of the way, Armitstead seems to have odds as good as anyone else.

Stage 3 runs for 93.5km from Katara Cultural Village at Doha just a short distance from the famous Pearl to Al Khor Corniches and then north into the desert before returning to Al Khor Corniche - remaining near to the eastern coast, it's likely to subject the riders to crosswinds which may blow in off the sea to the east or straight across the flat landscape from the west.

Once again, there are two intermediate sprints. The first is at Tenbek, 45km into the race and roughly two thirds of the way to Al Khor Corniche, while the second is 44.5km later at Al Thakira, 8.5km from the finish.

Stage 4 will also feel familiar to riders who competed last year, because it's the same as the final stage from 2013 - though it's listed as being 85km instead of 86.5km this time around, for some reason. Then, unusually for Qatar, the wind dropped and completely changed the character if the race, encouraging fierce breakaways and attacks as Hitec fought to get Hosking into a position to take on race leader and eventual victor Kirsten Wild who is back with her Giant-Shimano team this year - and who will be a very powerful opponent to Armitstead and anyone else hoping to win.

Starting at the Sealine Beach Resort, the parcours heads north via Mesaieed and Al Wakra (site of the first intermediate sprint, 38.5km from the start) to Doha; never venturing more than a few kilometres from the east coast it's likely that the riders will have to contend with crosswinds, unless the weather does something unexpected again. Once at Doha they'll compete five laps of the fast city circuit with the second intermediate sprint at the fourth crossing of the finish line, 11.5km from the end of the race.

Further information
The official race website is here and daily results will be published by the UCI. Team rosters: Ale Cipollini / Australia National Team / Astana-BePink / Boels-Dolmans / China Chong Ming / France National Team / Hitec Products / Italy National Team / Lotto-Belisol / Orica-AIS / Rabo-Liv/Giant / RusVelo / Specialized-Lululemon / Giant-Shimano / Wiggle-Honda.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Women's Cycling News Round-up 02-09.02.2014

World 'Cross Champs - more to come...

More news to come - got a story for us? Let us know!

Vos smashes World 'Cross Champs; Brit Helen Wyman wins bronze
Outside Belgium cyclo cross has never had a profile anything like that enjoyed by its sibling road racing, but once a year the entire cycling world stocks up on the Leffe and prepares for dose of good, filthy fun as the riders get down and dirty and fight it out for the biggest prize in 'cross - the World Championships.

In recent years, Marianne Vos' domination of the sport has been so great that bookies probably kept a drawerful of pre-printed betting slips with her name inserted where there'd usually be a blank space - your chances of getting any cash back had you have bet on anyone else was about as likely as your chances of getting it back if you'd dropped your wallet in the Hoogerheide mud. For the last couple of seasons, however, it's been increasingly apparent that rather than "killing the sport" - as some people, presumably ones who've never heard of Eddy Merckx, who was the last rider that can be compared the Dutch superstar, claimed would happen - the Vos phenomenon has had an enormously positive effect: just as the British rider Helen Wyman said would happen, the rest of the field has had to work hard to improve so as to be in with a chance, and women's cyclo cross has become a very great deal more competitive and fascinating as a result. This year, that process has really come to a head - Vos has been World 'Cross Champion seven times, donning the rainbow jersey in all but two of the years since 2006 but for the first time in a long time a large percentage of fans were tipping other riders for victory, with the USA's Katie Compton and Wyman both being named likely victors.

As was the case at the final round of the World Cup at Nommay in France last week, the widely predicted and much-anticipated battle between Vos and Compton never happened - right at the start of the race the American collided with three-time Czech champion Pavla Havlikova and both riders had difficulty untangled their bikes, losing a lot of time. Compton, though, is a very strong rider indeed; she was still in with a good chance of catching up and Vos would only have had to make a tiny mistake for her rival to take control. The thing is, though, Vos doesn't make many mistakes, and later in the race Compton's asthma, which forced her to abandon at Nommay, started to play her up once again. It seems highly likely that, sooner or later, Compton will take the rainbow jersey, but it wasn't to be this year and in the end she took ninth place.

Vos' technique is well-known: she simply finds her pace and then keeps going, and if anyone can stay with her for the duration then they might (and it's a very big might) be able to match her legendary surge of power to the line. In this race she set her pace early, suddenly accelerating hard halfway through the first lap to a speed that suited her. Italian Eva Lechner went with her and looked strong, but the speeds that suit Vos are virtually unhuman and she fell behind by the end of the lap. From that point on, it was virtually beyond doubt that Vos would take another title and there will be those who say that deciding the outcome so early makes for a boring race. However, there is joy to be had in watching an artisan skilled in his or her craft, and Vos is as expert at the technique of cycling as she is as generating vast wattages - time and time again she picked her lines and executed them to absolute perfection, hardly ever putting a tyre more than a centimetre away from where it needed to be to maintain momentum despite the slippery conditions and taking the corners so quickly that the mud hardly had time to stick to her socks, which looked almost as clean when she finished the race after 39'25" as when she started. She is a truly remarkable athlete and entirely deserves every victory she takes, even if her main rival has been taken out.

Lechner, who had now given up on catching Vos and was concentrating on staying as far ahead of the rest as she possibly could; she worked stupendously hard and her second place finish 1'07" behind Vos was impressive. Meanwhile, there was a full-scale melee going on further back down the parcours for the silver and bronze booty: Wyman, who leads many races for a good part of the initial lap due to her lightning-bolt starts, was third for a long time but Compton, still in at this point, and Belgian superstar Sanne Cant were tracking her every move. Had Compton not have experienced difficulties she's almost certainly have finished top three, perhaps even ahead of Lechner; as it was, Wyman ended up only having to deal with Cant who, for a while, managed to get ahead and looked very much like the probable third. Wyman's fast reactions serve for more than just fast starts, though, and Cant only needed to make the slightest misjudgement during the final lap for Helen to leap past her and grab the third place on the podium 1'17" behind Vos.

Of the other members of Wyman's British team, Nikki Harris was the next-fastest in fifth place, while Gabby Durrin was 26th and Hannah Payton 35th.

We hope to photographs of the race as soon as possible.

2014 World Cyclo Cross Championships Top Ten
1 Marianne VOS (Netherlands) 39'25"
2 Eva LECHNER (Italy) 40'32"
3 Helen WYMAN (Great Britain) 40'42"
4 Sanne CANT (Belgium) 40'45"
5 Nikki HARRIS (Great Britain) 41'58"
6 Lucie CHAINEL-LEFEVRE (France) 42'09"
7 Loes SELS (Belgium) 42'12"
8 Thalita DE JONG (Netherlands) 42'17"
9 Katie COMPTON (USA) 42'23"
10 Caroline MANI (France) 42'24"
Full result

Thursday 30 January 2014

Stafford GP 2014

14.08.2013 Official Site
Stafford, England
45 minutes + 3 laps criterium
Women's National Series
52°48'21.89"N  2° 7'0.83"W
Entries open at the end of February

Ancient High House, just metres from the start line on
Greengate Street. Note the large incidence of street furniture.
(image: Mick Malpass CC BY-SA 2.0)
Like all criteriums, the Stafford GP takes place on a short, urban parcours, but it squeezes a lot into its 1.1km to become a tough and technical race with numerous very tight corners, hidden kerbstones, slippery drain covers, plenty of street furniture and an assortment of narrow sections. In addition to that, most of the rest of the parcours encourages high average speed high speeds - it gains just 9.5m on each lap - and the likelihood that since this is the final race in the series the leaders will be fighting hard for any points they can take. However, it's not all flat; the Greengate Street section running north right after South Walls features a climb that, while short, hits a gradient of 5.6% over the latter half. That would be nothing in a stage race, when it would be climbed once by riders used to much steeper ascents, but in a criterium it'll be climbed many times and the cumulative effect becomes considerable. All those factors combine to make this race a real challenge and an impressive showcase for the riders' skills.

The race follows the usual criterium pattern with the riders racing for 45 minutes rather than over a set distance. Bonus primes will be awarded to the fastest rider on various pre-selected laps throughout the race. At the end of the 45 minutes, they will complete three additional laps before coming to the finish.

This is the third edition of the modern race, which was first held in 2010, but the history of criterium racing in Stafford dates back to the 1980s when, for a while, cycling seemed to be on the brink of becoming very popular in Britain - editions were held in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987 and drew enormous crowds. Then, for some reason, cycling's popularity began to wane once again and, just as the Tour of Britain would a decade later, the Stafford race vanished, apparently forever. Yet, years later, cycling began to find new British fans once more, and not least of all because of the enormous success of British female cyclists on the track and on the road - the Tour was revived in 2004 and has gone from strength to strength, and inspired by its success LeadoutCycling was formed to bring back the Stafford Town Centre races in 2010. For the first time in 2012, a women's race was added - further indication that the health of women's cycling is also improving.

The Parcours

View Stafford GP in a larger map

Guide to map symbols
The race begins on a pedestrianised section of Greengate Street outside the Swan Hotel, then heads south for 83m - this section is just downhill enough to permit very fast starts, making the already tricky first corner as the riders turn right into Mill Street even more technical than it would otherwise have been. Also an issue here is the large amount of street furniture including lamp posts, signs and bollards; immediately after the turn, the route runs through a narrow 20m section between buildings. Rough and tumble is a definite during the first lap and whenever the riders approach this corner en masse, and even a rider who breaks away and rounds it on her own will need to put all her bike-handling skills to good use to avoid trouble. There is a second pinch point by a clock atop a post 70m from the corner, then the circuit follows a left-hand bend to travel south on Water Street - with plenty of room along both sides of the road, this is a good point from which to watch the race.

Water Street is 70m in length, is narrow and ends with a left turn at a mini roundabout, which requires care in wet conditions since the combination of smooth white paint and residue of tyre rubber left by cars results in a very slippery surface; however, there is plenty of space and most riders will be able to avoid it without issue. Immediately round the corner on Mill Bank is a great deal more white paint road markings, which can also be slippery, followed by a traffic-calming hump. 150m after the turn is a second hump, followed by another mini roundabout - riders continue straight on at this one, making it less of a hazard, joining South Walls. 52m beyond the roundabout, a traffic island creates another pinch point and the riders turn a sharp left; the turn is on brick rather than asphalt and can be slippery in wet weather. The next road, 75m long, is Greengate Street; it's only 50m from the Greengate Street that hosts the start line but is not connected to it. It's also the location of that 5.5% climb which, though the total elevation gain is only 3m, will add up over the course of 45 minutes plus three laps and have proven decisive in previous editions of the race. On the left at the end is a small and roughly-surfaced area that looks to be a good place to get punctures, and a drain cover just to the right of the centre immediately before the right turn onto Tipping Street at the end of the road may become slippery. There are more drain covers just beyond the apex of the turn.

The road appears to widen shortly after the turn onto Tipping Street, but this is due to a small parking area - there's another pinch point 40m from the turn. Upon entering the left-hand bend towards the end of Tipping Street, riders on the right should be cautious of a thin line of cobbles along the entrance to the car park behind the police station. 25m later, riders turn left onto the wider Eastgate Street at the Shrewsbury Arms pub; the turn itself is not technical, but leads straight to another traffic-calming hump. The following section is 51m in length at gains 2m in height, thus creating an average gradient of 4% - like Greengate Street, it'll have an effect on the final outcome after being climbed so many times.

The next left takes the race onto Martin Street; care needs to be taken going into the turn due to a drain cover in the middle of the road and coming out of it due to a change in road surface (to brick, marking the beginning of a pedestrianised section, which can be more slippery than asphalt) and due to the restricted space. 108m ahead is a tight right turn; 30m later a slightly wider left, then 42m after that another left just past the trees on the market square. This final turn leads back onto Greengate Street and begins to descend; 102m later, having passed by Ancient High House on the right (which, despite having been built more than four centuries ago in 1594, remains the largest timber-framed house anywhere in Britain), the riders arrive back at the start line to begin a new lap.

Getting There
Stafford lies near to the centre of England, making it entirely possible for cyclists from several areas - including London (250km), Birmingham (51km), Manchester (134km), Liverpool(113km), Nottingham (84km) - within a day or two by bike. This is, of course, by far the best way to arrive, because doing so will immediately mark you out as a cyclist; since the GP is part of the Stafford Festival of Cycling, you'll be sure of a warm welcome.

The M6 passes just to west and makes it very easy to get to the Festival from the north or south; there are also good A-road links from the west (A449, A5013) and the east (A513, A518). Stafford's railway station lies less than third of a kilometre from the parcours and has direct links to all the Midlands cities and to London. The nearest airports are Birmingham and East Midlands.

Staying There
There are several hotels in Stafford itself, but rooms may be booked up in advance due to the popularity of the Festival. The obvious choice, since the race starts right outside and because its owned by race sponsors the Lewis Partnership, is the Swan - this 18th Century former coaching inn has 31 bedrooms. For those who want to push the boat out, Weston Hall is an Elizabethan mansion dating back to 1550. At the more affordable end of the market, the Travelodge at Spitfire Close is 3.1km from the parcours. More details on local hotels here. Dunston Heath Farm is the nearest campsite.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Alexandra Women's Tour of the Reservoir

Edmundbyers, England
Road Race, 67.8km
54°51'27.76"N  1°59'17.62"W
Race Entry

Women's cycling in Britain is desperately in need of some longer races so that the riders have an opportunity to show the public that they're fully capable of completing "proper" events, which will help to finally kill off the misconception that women's sports are not as interesting, exciting or worthy of attention as men's sports. For that reason, the warm welcome received by the announcement that the Tour of the Reservoir would include a women's race for the first time in its history this year was somewhat tempered by the fact that the women will race on a much shorter parcours than the men.

However, the race organisers explained that this year, they'd been unable to organise a race as long as they'd have liked because the road closures they'd been able to secure were limited - and if the 2014 edition proves to be a success, they'll be permitted longer closures in 2015 and thus be able to organise a much longer women's race held on a separate day to the men's. The men's Tour has been highly popular for many years now and is popularly considered to be one of the most challenging races in the country; the women's race, therefore, could become a real showcase for the sport if it's successful this year. As fans, we can make sure that happens - by making sure everyone knows about it and the plans the organisers have for its future, and by going to see it. Remember: the more spectators that show up, the more sponsors show interest.

While the Tour might not be very long, anyone who turns up thinking it'll be easy is in for a shock: along with the Rutland-Melton Classic, this is about the closest women's racing in Britain comes to the infamously difficult Flemish classics - in fact, with the tough climbs dotted along the parcours and the often inclement weather frequently experienced in County Durham and Northumberland in April, this might very easily become one of the hardest women's races in Europe.

Neutral Service reader (and now, contributor) David White lives near the parcours and rides on the same roads regularly. He gave us a brief description of the route...
The character of the race is very much determined by the course and in the case of the Tour of the Reservoir also by the exposed nature of it as well.  The riders HQ is in the village of Blanchland and they roll out of the village on the B6306 a climb out of the village and steady undulating road brings them to Carrick’s Corner at the head of the reservoir and here the race starts. The road climbs away from the reservoir itself and climbs steadily with a few switchbacks thrown in for good measure before dropping down into the village of Edmundbyres. 
Here the route heads off downhill on the B6278 before turning right and riding over the dam of the Derwent Reservoir.  From here they roll down from the dam to rejoin the B6278 next to the River Derwent, a short section of twisting road then opens out from a left hand bend to reveal the main climb of the route.  
Starting as a gentle incline the climb gets serious as soon as the riders fork left off the B6278 and head up towards the Manor House pub on the A68.  The climb is approximately 700m long and averages 8% gradient with a few kicks along the way.  If the riders are lucky the prevailing wind will be on their backs, if not it will be even harder work. 
The riders go onto the A68 and head north following the ridgeline for a short section before leaving the A68 onto and unclassified road heading up to Barleyhill, the highest point on the course.  The road is undulating and exposed but the actual climbing is very gentle.  At Barleyhill the riders make two left turns in quick succession and start to descend back to the reservoir.  I hope some road repairs are done before the event as several large potholes could cause serious damage if not.   
The riders will be flying as they turn and follow the northern shore of the reservoir past the yacht club before reaching a rolling section of road that takes them to the head of the reservoir.  There are some beautiful views of the reservoir along this section however I don’t think the riders will have time to notice! 
At the head of the reservoir the riders make a left turn to join the B6306 to head back towards Edmundbyers completing the lap. The finish of the race will be at the top of the dam, but with a revised way of getting there.  Instead of turning off and riding over the dam itself the riders continue on the B6278 to the bottom of the valley and go over the river Derwent and then into the dam area.  This gives a short climb to the finish at the top of the dam to crown a worthy victor.

The Parcours

View Tour of the Reservoir in a larger map

Much of the parcours is extremely exposed, making the going difficult in even relatively light wind due to the altitude. The prevailing wind around the reservoir blows from the north, meaning that the riders are likely to have to contend with crosswinds from the left for most of the route along the B6306 and B6278, a headwind along the A68, crosswinds from the right  as they travel east along the northern flanks of the reservoir. There are numerous steep sections, including one greater than 10% approaching the finish line, as well as numerous steep descents and difficult corners. Combined, all of these factors make for a very technical and challenging parcours.

Guide to map symbols
The race begins on the B6306 at the westernmost end of the reservoir, heading north-east - the low stone wall down a bank on the left side of the road and the spindly conifers beyond it will do little to calm cross winds blowing down the hillsides over the valley, across the water and straight into the riders' paths, possibly splitting the bunch into several groups only a few metres into the race if blowing with sufficient strength. The road also travels uphill here. After 0.5km, the route passes by some cottages on the left; 100m further on, where the road passes between woodland on both sides, there is a section where a small brook often overflows onto the road after heavy rain (1 Caution, marked by a yellow pin, on our map) - a potentially slippery point, but on  a straight road and thus not especially hazardous. Crosswinds are likely to be even stronger when the riders emerge from the woods.

After 1.1km the parcours passes more woodland, then some buildings on the left before reaching the first bend, a fairly tight right-hander. A farm vehicle entrance right on the apex of the bend may cause mud on the road (2 Caution) and any small lead groups might be able to add a few seconds to their advantage at this point, being able to take advantage of the wind that, now blowing from behind, will allow them to sail up the short hill like land yachts while the riders in the pack behind them have to take things slower to avoid crashing. The road over the hill carries the race into what is unmistakably mountain moorland; at 2.49km, where a track leads off to the left (3 Caution; by the woods), there may be loose gravel on the road.

At 3.13km the road bends slightly right, then sharply left before entering a fast, sweeping left; the road is wide here and the bends can be taken at high speed. The green barn to the left of the road at 3.63km marks the beginning of the biggest and steepest climb so far - over the next 0.3km, the riders will climb 21m to 293m above sea level at an average gradient of 7.1%. The second half of the climb is steeper; according to Google Earth data, it reaches 10.4% at the slight right bend 3.85km into the parcours before slackening as it approaches the summit where a small lay-by provides an ideal spot for spectators*.

From 4.17km, the road starts to descend - the start of the descent is marked by a house high above on the right, but it's hard to see from the road; the first hundred metres is very steep in parts. Approximately halfway down the riders arrive at Edmundbyers where, 4.73km from the start, they keep left to follow the road as it veers to the east (4 Caution). Some caution is required here as riders who fail to brake in time from the descent run the risk of crashing into the metal railings running along the right-hand side of the road. Meanwhile, there is a danger of loose gravel along the left of the road.

The road continues to descend through the village, reaching a left turn onto the B6278 at a T-junction (5 Caution; look for the "finger" signpost pointing left to Shotley Wood and the large red double doors on the house over the road) at 5.07km. The turn isn't difficult but the white lines painted on the road may become slippery when wet. The road then continues to descend, steeply in parts, for the next 1km before arriving at the left turn onto the road that will carry the race up to and over the dam.

The dam wall
(image: Dennis Lovett CC BY-SA 2.0)
Turning left at 6.08km onto a much narrower road to continue to the dam, the riders arrive at a pinch point when they have to pass through a narrow gate (6 Caution) - leading riders, either solo or in small groups, will be able to get through and continue far quicker than the main group, but all riders will be slowed significantly as the gate also has a cattle grid. The road beyond the gate is narrow, giving any climbers at the front of the bunch an opportunity to get away up the hill climbing up to the dam which, while short at 0.5km, reaches 6%. Once there, they begin one of the most spectacular sections of any race in Britain, riding along the top of the dam wall - where, if there's a strong crosswind blowing off the reservoir, the heavier riders may be able to catch them. The short ramp up to the opposite end, meanwhile, allows them further opportunity, being as steep as 7%; the heavier riders then have another chance to catch up from 7.59km (7 Caution) on the steep descent leading back down to the main road, which in parts is near -13%.

At 8.22km, having reached the bottom of the descent, the riders negotiate a tight, fast left-hand bend to rejoin the B6278; they now follow the road as it begins to climb gently to 9.27km, where the biggest climb of the parcours begins. Rising 69m in 0.93km, the average gradient is 7.7%, which is plenty steep enough; however, Google's mapping data puts the steepest section (just after the left-hand turn at 9km) at 9.1% and while it's probably too far from the finish line for an individual to emerge as sure-fire winner, we are likely to see the group from which the winner is selected get away here during the final lap. On each lap, the first riders to the top will be awarded primes.

Manor House Inn, at the top of the prime
(image: Duncan Grey CC-BY-SA 2.0)
The Manor House Inn marks 10km from the start as well as signaling the end of the climb; due to the altitude and exposed terrain just after the left-hand turn onto the A68, the riders are likely to turn into a strong headwind here - another opportunity for the heavier riders to catch up with any climbers who got away on the way up.

The 0.8km from the turning is flat and ends at a fork where the riders will keep left to join a narrower road which remains flat for 0.5km, then climbs 19m in 0.5km (average 3.8%; maximum, in the second half, 6.2%). A short flat section then leads to 12.6km, where another short climb begins - due to the rough track crossing the road here, this may be a hazardous spot with mud and sharp stones on the road. The end of the road, at 13.3km and 306m above sea level, is the highest point on the parcours; the race turns left here and continues for 0.37km, with riders getting some much-needed shelter from the wind by the conifers on the right side of the road, before turning left again to begin the long descent that will take them along the northern side of the reservoir and towards the beginning of a new lap.

The descent, 2.4km long, continues past the next left turn (just past the large grey house and it's best to keep a short way out from the left verge as there are a few potholes in the road) and doesn't get very steep over the first 2km, thus allowing all but the most downhill-phobic climbers to retain any lead they gained on the preceding sections.

15km-End of circuit
The final 0.4km of the descent becomes much steeper, reaching -8.8% as the road follows a sweeping right-hand bend (9 Caution) - the road is wide enough for the bend to be taken at very high speed, but caution is required and with loose verges on both sides of the road the safest place to be is the centre. Unless it's raining, of course, in which case the white lines are going to be slippery.

Following the descent, as the road begins to bend gently to the left, the terrain flattens out considerably - there are a few small climbs, some steep, on the way around the reservoir but no more testing climbs to come for the next 3.5km. This, especially on the final lap, evens things up: any climbers that got away earlier can be caught (especially if they were one of the rare types that can descend, too) and it's a good opportunity for the teams to regroup and get their potential winners into position for the final assault on the finish line. At 15.9km, the reservoir comes back into view on the left; 400m later, with the reservoir once again hidden by trees, the riders come to a short but tough small climb of 0.2km with a maxiumum gradient of around 6% (white fences on both sides of the road mark the beginning and end). The short descent and flat 1km that follows is another point where climbers will have to work hard to maintain a lead.

Descent to the bridge, Carrick's Haugh
(image: Trevor Littlewood CC-BY-SA 2.0)
At 17.6km, where a track crosses the road and may lead to mud and gravel on the tarmac (10 Caution), the road bends left and begins another short climb of around 0.2km length with a maximum gradient of 6.5%, ending at the farm. The next two kilometres running to the westernmost end of the reservoir are rolling but free of steep ramps making this a relatively easy section, with the only real issue being the descent from 18.6km (maximum -4.6%), which takes in a medium left bend followed by a tight right (11 Caution). Both have loose verges and may be slippery. At 19.7km, the riders reach another left leading into a short descent at Carrick's Haugh, then find themselves on a bridge where care is needed not to crash on the verge running along the right (12 Caution). The bridge serves as a handy marker for the start of the final climb on the circuit, a tough 0.4km section starting from 19.9km and gaining 33m by the time the riders arrive back at Carrick's Corner, where they earlier joined the circuit - the average gradient is approximately 8.25%; the maximum, which can be avoided by staying away from the left verge as the road joins the B6306, is 14%.

Final section
After completing three laps of the circuits, the riders will take a different route (marked in red on our map) to the finish line. Beginning at Carrick's Corner, they take the same route towards the dam but this time do not turn left to ride up onto it at 6.08km. Instead, they continue along the B6278 for 0.87km to the point where, earlier, they rejoined the B6278 following the descent down from the dam. Here they turn left, and the descent they tackled earlier, with its maximum gradient of 13%, becomes an ascent that is more than tough enough to shake up the order at the front of the race. The finish line is at the dam.

*Note: The lay-by only really has room for one or two cars. That means, of course, that there's space for about a hundred bikes - so if you're planning to see the race from that point, get there on your bike if you can so that other people will be able to do the same. The more the merrier - take a barbecue and some beers and have a party.

Start List
Not yet available

Getting There
Please note: Derwent Reservoir (County Durham/Northumberland) should not be confused with the reservoir of the same name in Derbyshire.

The parcours is best reached from the south via the A68, from the north via the A69, from the west via the A6079 and from the east via the A694, A692 or A693. Google Maps has an excellent application that can design routes suited to cars or bikes.

Staying There
The local inns offer accommodation, but this is very limited and likely to be booked up well in advance. There is a Youth Hostel at Edmundbyers and also Durham (37km), which as a popular tourist destination has several hotels. There is also a campsite (tents and caravans) at Edmundbyers (postcode DH8 9NN), but people planning to camp should be aware that the weather can be very bad in April.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Women's Cycling News Round-up 26.01-02.02.14

Road - Cyclo Cross - Track - Seen a story we've missed? Let us know!

Road Racing
Interesting Links
Former Giro d'Italia boss Michele Acquarone: "I would have liked to have had men’s and women’s races in the same places. All the other big sports are combined, and I think that women’s cycling deserves more." (Velonation)

Britain's road stars closer to Women's Tour selection after UCI announce teams for 2014 (RCUK) receive invites to Ronde van Vlaanderen, Flèche Wallonne, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen, but cannot contest World Cup (in Dutch -

New British team BikePure, sponsored by Greg Lemond, launches (Inside the Games)

Women to watch in '14 (Pez Cycling News)

Cyclo Cross
World Cup #7 Nommay
Marianne Vos wins seventh and final round of the UCI World Cup at Nommay. British rider and current European Champion Helen Wyman takes second place followed by Italian Eva Lechner in third after American star Katie Compton suffered an asthma attack caused by grass allergy and was forced to abandon.

Compton's 350 points amassed thus far in the competition secured her the overall victory, with Brit Nikki Harris second on 284 and Vos third on 270.
Full result and times Report (Cycling News)

Hoogerheide World Championships Start List
1 VOS Marianne NED19870513 
2 STULTIENS Sabrina NED19930708 
3 DE BOER Sophie NED19901212 
4 KALVENHAAR Annefleur NED19940610 
5 KASTELIJN Yara NED19970809 
6 DE JONG Thalita NED19931106 

8 COMPTON Katherine USA19781203 
9 ANTONNEAU Kaitlin USA19920101 
10 ANDERSON Elle USA19880329 
11 MILLER Meredith USA19731226 
12 ANTHONY Crystal USA19801120 
13 KEMMERER Arley USA19840223 

14 LECHNER Eva ITA19850701 
15 ARZUFFI Alice Maria ITA19941119 
16 CAUZ Francesca ITA19920924 
17 VALENTINI Elena ITA19920330 
18 TEOCCHI Chiara ITA19961208 

Great Britain
19 WYMAN Helen GBR19810304 
20 HARRIS Nikki GBR19861230 
21 DURRIN Gabriella GBR19841201 
22 PAYTON Hannah GBR19940323 

Czech Republic
23 HAVLIKOVA Pavla CZE19830420 
24 MIKULASKOVA Martina CZE19930813 
25 KUKULOVA Martina CZE19950328 

26 CHAINEL-LEFEVRE Lucie FRA19830702 
27 FERRAND PREVOT Pauline FRA19920210 
28 MOREL PETITGIRARD Marlène FRA19880502 
29 MANI Caroline FRA19870118 
30 GAULTIER Emeline FRA19961123 

31 CANT Sanne BEL19901008 
32 VAN LOY Ellen BEL19800916 
33 MICHIELS Githa BEL19830328 
34 SELS Loes BEL19850725 

35 TOYOOKA Ayako JPN19800810 
36 KUPFERNAGEL Hanka GER19740319 
37 LAMBRACHT Jessica GER19950701 
38 BRANDAU Elisabeth GER19851216 
39 HECKMANN Lisa GER19880514 

40 MAJERUS Christine LUX19870225 

41 KLOPPENBURG Margriet Helena DEN19880118 

42 ERLANDSSON Asa Maria SWE19740130 

43 NUNO PALACIO Aida ESP19831124 
44 MARTIN RODRIGUEZ Rocio ESP19850316 

45 JACOBS Lisa AUS19810917 
46 ANSET Melissa AUS19750416

Interesting Links
Hornes-Ravenstijn disappointed to miss selection for Hoogerheide following poor Nommay ride (in Dutch -

Japan Track Cup
24.01.14 results: Sprint, Points, Keirin
25-26.01.14 results: Sprint, Omnium, Keirin
Sprint victor Missy M. Erickson's report

Interesting Links
Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares spearheads national titles at Adelaide SuperDrome (

Hayley Jones looking to shift gears in cycling career (South Wales Evening Post)

BikeNZ seeks women's endurance coach (Yahoo Sport)

Do I need a women's bike? (Bikeradar)

Monday 20 January 2014

Women's Cycling News 19-26.01.2014

Powers to victory in San Luis - BC announce CX Worlds squad - Santos CupShorts and Interesting Links - more to come...

Powers to victory in San Luis
Stage 1
British rider Hannah Barnes (United Healthcare) was the fastest in a 41-rider bunch sprint to win the first stage. Team mate Alison Powers led Barnes out 500m to the line; Barnes jumped with 150m to go and powered past the rest of the bunch.

Yudelmis Dominguez Masague, riding for the Cuba National Team, picked up the most points in the two intermediate sprints and now leads the Sprints classification.

Barnes, making her race debut for the team, will now be widely considered a favourite for overall victory as the race consists chiefly of short stages likely to end in further bunch sprints. The final stage takes place on Saturday.

Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Hannah BARNES (United Healthcare) 1h51'44"
2 Paola MUNOZ ST
5 Valeria PINTOS ST
6 Clemilda FERNANDES SILVA (Brazil NT) ST
8 Barbara FRISCH ST
9 Bibiana NARVAEZ ST
10 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) ST
Full result

Stage 2
Hannah Barnes abandoned following crash and required medical treatment.

Clemilda Fernandes Silva (Brazil NT) wins the stage. Yudelmis Dominguez Masague (Cuba NT) leads the Sprints classification; Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla is the leading rider in the Youth classification and also leads the Combination category.

Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Clemilda FERNANDES SILVA (Brazil NT) 1h35'02"
2 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) ST
5 Fernanda DA SILVA SOUZA ST 1
6 Andreina RIVERA +04"
7 Serika GULUMA ORTIZ +04"
8 Cristiane SILVA +04"
9 Paola MUNOZ +04"
10 Estefania PILZ +04"
Full result and GC

Stage 3
Alison Powers (United Healthcare) wins with a 3'18" advantage, propelling herself into first place overall with a lead of 3'04 as well as becoming new leader of the Combination classification. Team mate Alexis Ryan wins bunch sprint for second place.

Yudelmis Dominguez Masague (Cuba NT) leads the Sprints classification; Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla remains leading rider in the Youth classification.

Stage 3 Top Ten
1 Alison POWERS (United Healthcare) 1h39'25"
2 Alexis RYAN (United Healthcare) +3'18"
5 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) ST
8 Paola MUNOZ ST
9 Talia Ayelen AGUIRRE ST
10 Valeria PINTOS ST
Full result and GC

Stage 4
Alison Powers' individual time trial performance of 14'42" nets her sixth place, 42" slower than winner Fernanda Da Silva Souza, but leaves her in first place overall with an advantage of 2'22". Powers also leads the Combination classification.

Yudelmis Dominguez Masague (Cuba NT) leads the Sprints classification; Marlies Meijas Garcia is the leading rider in the Youth classification.

Stage 4 Top Ten
1 Fernanda DA SILVA SOUZA 13'52"
2 Ines Carolina GUTIERREZ +06"
3 Clemilda FERNANDES SILVA (Brazil NT) +15"
4 Serika GULUMA ORTIZ +27"
5 Yudelmis DOMINGUEZ MASAGUE (Cuba NT) +36"
6 Alison POWERS (United Healthcare) +42"
7 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) +42"
8 Barbara FRISCH +42"
9 Luciene FERREIRA DA SILVA +44"
10 Cristiane SILVA +50"
Full result and GC

Stage 5
Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla (Cuba NT) wins bunch sprint to take final stage. Alison Powers (United Healthcare) finishes in leading group to win overall with a time of 7h26'35", 2'22" faster than second place Fernanda Da Silva Souza and 2'37" faster than third place Clemilda Fernandes Silva (Brazil NT). Powers also wins the Combination classification.

Yudelmis Dominguez Masague (Cuba NT) wins the Sprints classification; Marlies Meijas Garcia wins the Youth classification.

Stage 5 Top Ten
1 Arlenis SIERRA CAÑADILLA (Cuba NT) 2h05'36"
3 Alexis RYAN (United Healthcare) ST
4 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) ST
5 Paola MUNOZ ST
6 Clemilda FERNANDES SILVA (Brazil NT) ST
7 Alison POWERS (United Healthcare) ST
8 Talia Ayelen AGUIRRE ST
9 Barbara FRISCH ST
Full result

General Classification Top Ten
1 Alison POWERS (United Healthcare) 7h26'35"
2 Fernanda DA SILVA SOUZA +2'22"
3 Clemilda FERNANDES SILVA (Brazil NT) +2'37"
4 Serika GULUMA ORTIZ +2'57"
5 Marlies MEJIAS GARCIA (Cuba NT) +3'04"
6 Luciene FERREIRA DA SILVA +3'06"
7 Ines Carolina GUTIERREZ +3'07"
8 Arlenis SIERRA CAÑADILLA (Cuba NT) +3'14"
9 Cristiane SILVA +3'16"
10 Valeria PINTOS +3'18"
Full result

Sprint: Yudelmis Dominguez Masague (Cuba NT); Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla (Cuba NT); Barbara Frisch. Youth: Marlies Meijas Garcia (Cuba NT) 7h29'39"; Ines Carolina Gutierrez +03"; Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla (Cuba NT) +10". Combination: Alison Powers (United Healthcare); Marlies Meijas Garcia (Cuba NT); Arlenis Sierra Cañadilla (Cuba NT).

BC announce CX Worlds squad
British cycling have announced the riders who will make up the British teams at the World Cyclo Cross Championships next month. Leading the squad is Helen Wyman, who is currently enjoying a superb season as National and European Champion; she's joined by Nikki Harris, Gabby Durrin and Hannah Payton.

Santos Cup
Loes Gunnewijk wins the Santos Cup
(image c/o Orica-GreenEDGE)
Organisers of the Santos Women's Cup decided to experiment with their event's format this year, starting off with a fast (average speed 44.7kph)  30 minutes + two laps criterium on the streets of Adelaide where one corner proving sufficiently technical to cause a number of accidents - four riders required hospital treatment. Orica took all three top places with Loes Gunnewijk on the top step of the podium after getting ahead for the final quarter of an hour and finishing six seconds ahead of Melissa Hoskins and Nettie Edmondson.

A nearby bushfire raised concerns that the race might have to be abandoned, but in the end it was Orica's Amanda Spratt that burned up the competition in Stage 2, launching an explosive attack on the tough Menglers hill climb, which reaches a gradient of 18% in places, that even the famously strong attacker Valentina Scandolara couldn't catch - the Italian would finish in second place, 32" behind. Having finished the first stage in 26th place, she has 12 points in total and could still wrest overall control from Gunnewijk who has 16. Scandolara, with 10, is third overall.

The third and final stage, a criterium on a fast and tight circuit at Prospect, took place on Tuesday. With 12 points on offer for the winner numerous riders remain in contention but as far as many fans were concerned after seeing her performance on the first stage, Gunnewijk had it in the bag. They turned out to be correct - while the Dutchwoman didn't win the stage, losing out to team mate Shara Gillow who got away from the pack and soloed to victory, her second place secured the overall win.

Stage 1 Top Ten
1 Loes Gunnewijk 37'35"
2 Melissa Hoskins +06"
3 Nettie Edmondson ST
4 Lucy Martin ST  
5 Rochelle Gilmore ST  
6 Ruth Corset ST  
7 Lizzie Williams ST  
8 Kristy Glover ST  
9 Julia Kalotas ST  
10 Sophie Williamson ST
Full result

Stage 2 Top Ten
1 Amanda Spratt 2h39'52"
2 Valentina Scandolara +32"
3 Joanne Hogan +1'02"
4 Taryn Heather +2'04"  
5 Jessie Maclean +2'06"  
6 Lizzie Williams +2'57"  
7 Loes Gunnewijk ST  
8 Gracie Elvin ST  
9 Sophie Williamson ST  
10 Jessica Mundy ST
Full result

Stage 3 Top Ten (times not available)
1 Shara GILLOW
3 Valentina SCANDOLARA
4 Lizzie WILLIAMS 
5 Amanda SPRATT 
8 Taryn HEATHER 
9 Gracie ELVIN 
10 Joanne HOGAN 
Full result

General Classification Top Ten
1 Loes GUNNEWIJK 26pts
2 Valentina SCANDOLARA 18pts
3 Amanda SPRATT 18pts
4 Lizzie WILLIAMS 16pts
5 Shara GILLOW 12pts
6 Taryn HEATHER 10pts
=6 Melissa HOSKINS 10pts
7 Joanne HOGAN 9pts
=7 Nettie EDMONDSON 8pts
8 Sophie WILLIAMSON 7pts
9 Lucy MARTIN 7pts
10 Jessie MACLEAN 6pts
Full result

Shorts and Interesting Links
Crowell sidelined by cancer diagnosis (Cycling News)
Fatehah Mustapha is first Malaysian woman to win UCI World Cup medal (New Straits Times)