After the somewhat of a shock win from Sunweb on Sunday in the team effort, our focus now turns to the individual race against the clock and riders are back to riding for their country, not trade teams!
The power course in 2016 saw AmberNeben of the USA take a surprise win, beating VanDijk and Garfoot into the silver and bronze medal positions respectively.
The 42 year-old is here to defend her title but there are plenty of others looking to take it from her. First though, let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
The women will complete just one “long lap” around Bergen, which is quite disappointing if I’m honest. Especially when you consider that the U23 men completed a “long” and “short” lap for their event today!
Anyway, as per usual I’ve made a Strava/Veloviewer profile of the route that you can view here.
A fairly flat and not overly technical opening 5.6km will allow the power riders in the peloton to open up the taps and hopefully get into a rhythm. However, after that they will then face the toughest part of the course where that “rhythm” might get thrown out of the window!
Lots of small drags and fast descents for the riders to tackle, the term “rollercoaster route” describes this section perfectly. Averaging 2.7% for the 4.4km it isn’t too tough and the more traditional TTers would hope not to lose too much. Well, that is until we get to the climb that has put to bed some of the contenders chances over the past few days of action.
A short but very sharp climb, it is important to pace it and not go too deep. The lighter riders will hope to make up some time here but given its length, they won’t be able to make up much. If only the women finish on Mount Floyen too!
The reason pacing is important, is because the riders still have more than half of their ride to complete.
That closing 11kms actually average -1% so it can be a place for riders to gain a lot of time if they nail the descents and put the power down on the flat. We saw this in the women’s TTT with Sunweb gaining roughly 15 seconds on Boels over that section. Can Van Dijk do it again?!
Over the past few days it has hardly rained. We had a smattering during the women’s junior TT earlier but in the city that is apparently one of the wettest in the world it has been a lot less than expected.
However, that might change tomorrow.
Saying that different forecasts have different outlooks. You can’t trust meteorologists these days!
So I’ll go off of Yr.no (A Norwegian site) which hopefully should be the most accurate*…
*famous last words.
It seems that we’re in for another sprinkling of rain in the afternoon, which in theory should affect those late on in the order.
Speaking of which, Lauren Stephens is first down the ramp at 15:35 local time, with defending champion Neben off last at 16:54.
I’m really not sure what to make of this race tomorrow. We have a whole host of riders who in theory could compete on this course, but it all depends on their form!
First down the ramp, the American will no doubt set the fastest time early on but it could be one that might stand a while. She’s been very impressive so far this season, taking 3 wins to her name, including two-time trials. Possibly benefiting from better weather, can the strong all-rounder shock the peloton?
The rider who could potentially knock Stephens off that early hot-seat, the Dutchwoman has had a great season; winning a famous Ardennes Triple. Her efforts against the clock have been solid, but she’s failed to win a TT. The course tomorrow suits her as a strong all-rounder but I think she might prefer a few more hills.
We’ll then have to wait a bit for riders to challenge the times of the two above. There will be some who might come close but I can’t see anyone beating them for almost another hour…
Annemiek van Vleuten.
The bookmaker’s favourite for this race “Vleuty” has been incredibly strong this season, bouncing back form her horror crash in Rio last year. Everything she’s touched recently has turned to gold pretty much, it has been a truly remarkable effort. She will arrive her full of confidence after beating Van Dijk in the recent Boels Rental Tour and she has every chance to do that again. My one doubt about her is that as she has been so strong for a large percentage of the year, is she starting to tire now, while others have managed their peaks a lot better?
Ellen Van Dijk.
The third Dutch rider/potential winner on the start list, she was instrumental in helping Sunweb to the TTT title on Sunday. A powerhouse on the bike, the course looks almost ideal for her. She is one of the last riders down the start ramp so she’ll be hoping any rain holds off until after she has finished, but she will be up there fighting either way. I imagine she will be satisfied with nothing less than Rainbow at the end of the day.
Last year’s somewhat of a shock winner, we could well be in for another surprise again. I personally don’t know much about her as I only started following the women’s side of the sport a few years ago, but she apparently can put out some serious watts. At 42 years old though, surely this is a step too far? Then again, winning your first Worlds at 41 kind of negates that a bit…
A strong TT rider with a “dubious” racing history, she always seems to go fairly well at the big events. Her form this season has been poor though and she disappointed at the Euro Champs. However, given her ability to surprise then who knows what we’ll get from her tomorrow!
Not too far off the pace last year, where she somewhat avoided the Haughey Curse and managed to take third; she will obviously be hoping to go better this time round. Like Van Dijk, this course looks great for the naturalised Aussie who can manage on the climbs but also put the power down on the flat. She has been slowly building some form and a third place during the Tour of Norway is promising. Watch out for her!
Others to look out for to be in and around the top 10 include Villumsen, Brennauer, and Duyck.
Hmmm, I’m still really torn on this one.
The course suits a rider who can climb fairly well but is strong enough on the flat to put the power down. Before the Championships started I had this down as van Vleuten’s to win, but after watching the opening few days of racing I’m not so sure. In fact, I’ve changed my mind and I think VanDijk has the best chance for the Dutch team.
The European Champion to add a World title to her collection!
Watch out for Garfoot though, I think she could sneak a podium place and possibly even better…
The 7/2 available for Van Dijk to win is very tempting but I’m still not overly convinced. So to take out any “shocks” we might see, I think that the 2/1 to beat Van Vleuten offers some value.
I’m also tempted to back the Garfoot to beat Villumsen H2H at 5/4 as on this course I would have the Aussie as favourite.
I also think Garfoot is way overpriced as an outside podium contender at 22/1. As a rider who turned pro late (back in 2014) she’s since gone on and finished 11th/4th/3rd over the past three World TT competitions. Not bad. I think she’ll be close again tomorrow and has to be backed at the price.
So with all that said (including some of me talking through my logic) my punts are as follows –
3pts Van Dijk to beat van Vleuten @ 2/1 (would take 13/8)
5pts Garfoot to beat Villumsen @ 5/4 (would take at 10/11)
1pt EW Garfoot to win @ 22/1 (would back down to 14/1)
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? I think we’ll be in for an exciting and close afternoon of TT action. Anyway,
We’re at that sad time of the year again where the World Championships begin and the season starts to draw to a close. The opening event as per usual, is the “art form” of the team time trial.
In 2016 we saw Quick–Step (then Ettix) power their way around the pan-flat course in Doha amid some searing heat to beat BMC and Orica. A slight surprise given BMC’s dominance in the event throughout the year leading up to the World Champs.
As for the women, Boels continued their incredibly impressive season by blitzing the opposition, beating Canyon by 48 seconds and Cervelo by a shade under 2 minutes. Not bad!
Will we see similar looking podiums this year? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
Both the men and women will compete over the same course which is fantastic for me, as I don’t have to do double the work for nothing, or just pointlessly repeat myself which would bore you!
If not, you can view the interactive version here.
“Appears flat-ish but surprisingly hilly” is how I would describe the route. There are no real severe gradients in the course apart from a few small climbs, but according to the Strava/Veloviewer data there is over 1100m of elevation gain.
I’m going to throw that slightly out of the window though as the app does get a bit confused when tracking through tunnels and over bridges etc, but it won’t be too far off. My estimate would be ~900m of elevation gain; which is still quite a lot for a TTT.
The first test the riders will face is a 1.2km climb at 4.8% that comes just after 3.5km into the day. Not ideal for “easing yourself into it”! The route then rises and falls constantly for the following 7kms as we head towards the second longest suspension bridge in Norway. A poor man’s Forth Road Bridge if you ask me…
Anyway, the first slightly anomaly on the profile comes just after that. The riders do go up a steep ramp, but it is not as sudden as it initially seems. Instead, it is more of a gradual rise through the tunnel, before flattening out.
Yet more undulating terrain follows before the riders face the toughest task of the day.
Averaging 5.4% for 2.2km isn’t crazy, but that includes the more shallow build up in the overall total. The main bulk of the climbing is actually done over 1.1km…
It’s a bit more difficult than the 1.4km at 7.2% that is suggested on the official profile.
The steepness of the slopes could certainly ruin the cohesion in a team and potentially ruin their chances at they head into the final section of the race.
Once over the climb, the riders will have some more rolling roads to contend with but they are mainly in their favour now, with the parcours descending ever so slightly all the way into Bergen.
The usual teams arrive here with strong aspirations in this event so let’s start with the reigning champions.
They bring a very solid all round squad with them here and they’ll once again be challenging for the title. It will be interesting to see what order they rotate in and who they intend to drop as the race progresses. I imagine Vermote probably won’t be there at the finish line! With all that said, I just can’t see them winning it this year.
The dominant force in TTTs for so long, they’re undefeated this season. Yet, this route is arguably the least favourable that they will have faced all year. With them in Bergen they do have a lot of strong guys who are more than competent climbers such as van Garderen and Dennis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did win. Yet, looking at their squad, you just don’t get the same “fear factor” that was there in previous years. They are beatable.
Somewhat of a surprise package that took third place at the Vuelta this year; they’ve made some steady progress throughout the season. In fact, I’d go as far to argue that they have been one of, if not, the best performing teams in 2017. I really like the look of their squad that they bring here and it is very well-balanced. Dumoulin will obviously be heavily relied on but their not exactly short of talent to back him up. Watch out for them!
I wonder if Moscon can just drag the other 5 around with him? With the way he was riding in the last week of the Vuelta, it wouldn’t surprise me! Not exceptional in the discipline recently, Sky are more likely to be remembered for their exploding wheels at Tirreno this season compared to any of their on the bike TTT performances. However, their squad is stacked with strong riders who can handle this terrain. If there is ever a TTT WC Sky could win, this is it.
I can’t really see past any of those 4 squads winning. Orica should be fighting it out for a top 5 with Jumbo, with Movistar not too far behind.
There you go, there’s your preview…
Joking aside, the Dutch outfit should have this one in the bag to make it back-to-back titles. They lost some of their TT prowess at the end of last year with Van Dijk moving to Sunweb and Stevens retiring. To replace them they did recruit van der Breggen and Pieters; not a bad swap! The rolling course could cause some difficulties but given everyone in their line-up is a solid climber, then it shouldn’t be too stressful for them. It will take some bad luck for them not to retain their crown, or a crazily strong ride from some opposition teams!
The up-and-coming TTT team in the women’s peloton, they are Boels’ nearest challengers in my opinion. At the recent Vargarda TTT they finished only 13 seconds behind the Dutch outfit over a similar distance. The route tomorrow is hillier, which probably doesn’t favour their squad as a whole. Nonetheless, with the likes of Ludwig, Moolman and Lepistö, they certainly have some firepower in their ranks!
The “old guard” of women’s TTT racing. In previous incarnations they were almost unstoppable in this event, but they have since lost their ways. The squad that they bring with them here gives me a similar feeling to QuickStep. They are strong, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t see them having enough to challenge Boels and in fact, I think they’ll cede their silver place to Cervelo this year.
Sunweb and Veloconcept will be battling it out for 4th, hoping that another team has a bad day so that they can win a medal!
There are a couple of fantasy games for the World Champs that I’m going to plug.
First of all is the return of Cycling Picks/Rainbow Picks, which will be free to play this time around. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any prizes though, as the lovely people @handmadecyclist are offering one of their WC mugs for the winner!
Follow Jason (Cycling_Picks) to get involved, or simply enter your name on the spreadsheet that can be found here. All rules etc are viewable on the sheet etc, or if you’re still unsure how it works, get in contact with Jason!
Secondly, @InsidePeloton96 is going to be running a World Champs “Fantasy Fives” that I’m sure he’ll be releasing over the coming days which you should also get involved with. I say that, as I had to curate the price list for the women’s side of the game. You might find a few bargains hidden in there…
Boels and Sky win. Simple!
I wonder if we can parody Mr Blue Sky, a.k.a Mr Boels Sky?
Sunweb and BMC to make up the podium, with Cervelo and Canyon doing the same in the women’s race.
Nothing really excites me for the outright markets, so I’ve went for a H2H 5-fold for some entertainment over the afternoon.
The odds have now shortened quite a bit since yesterday evening, but I’d still back it at the 9.45/1 available. 1.5pt WIN.
Thanks as always for reading the preview! Who do you think is going to win the TTTs? Will we see a shock result? The next preview I’ll be releasing is the Women’s ITT so please return for that. Anyway,
The race starts with a short and explosive prologue on Thursday evening. Pretty much pan-flat, this is an effort that will suit the strong riders of the peloton, but also those who can hold a high power over a short period of time, i.e. some of the sprinters!
The circuit is quite technical with a few tight turns involved over the course, meaning being able to power out of them and get back up to full speed quickly is a massive advantage. We’ve not seen a prologue at this race since back in 2014 when Vos won a very similar circuit in Halden. Can she repeat that on the opening day? Given her current form, it is definitely a possibility!
There is a chance of rain later in the day which could make things a bit of a lottery.
With such a short effort, there are a lot of riders who could be involved in the shake up at the end of the day.
I’ll go with Wiggle rider AnnetteEdmondson to take the win though. She won the prologue at the BeNe Tour earlier in the year, although that admittedly was half the length, but she is a rider with the perfect mix of explosiveness and sustained power to compete here. I mean, she is a pursuit medalist on the track after all!
A stage that is similar to what we saw in the Women’s Tour earlier in the year, where the road is constantly up or down all day. Now, these undulations normally aren’t too much in terms of length and gradient, but it is their repeated nature that could wear down the bunch.
Another thing that could make the day more selective than it may initially look on paper is the weather. Friday looks to be a pretty grim day and in the finish town of Mysen there is a chance of rain throughout the afternoon. The same can be said for elsewhere on the course and it could turn it into a race of attrition.
Once the riders reach Mysen they will face a 6.2km circuit that they will tackle three times.
The circuit isn’t overly tough so some of the sprinters teams might want to control it but there are a few points where the opportunists might want to launch their attacks. It looks very balanced in that regard!
The most obvious launchpad is the 500m section (2.5 -> 3km) that averages 4.5%. With only 3km of the circuit left, if a strong trio or quartet of riders escapes here then they could be hard to bring back.
As for the run in itself, the road does rise ever so slightly during 300m preceding the final turn you see above, where the riders will take a left and face then final 250m finishing straight.
Will it be a bunch sprint or a small escape group who fight out stage honours?
Given that there are only 4 stages in the race (including the prologue) then there isn’t much time for anyone wanting to make a tilt at the GC crown to make their move. Therefore I do think we’ll see a relatively attacking race on the opening road stage, where the bunch is whittled down due to the combination of a fast pace and bad weather. Once we get near the closing circuit we might have around 60 riders left at the head of the race.
From there, a group of riders from the “stronger” teams will escape and fight out the stage.
I’ll go with LeahKirchmann for the win. After a breakthrough 2016 the Canadian has had a much slower 2017 so far, but her results have been steadily picking up some progress and headed in the right direction. She was third at the recent Vargarda and packing a punchy sprint she might just go better here!
A straightforward day, but a relatively long one at 144km. There is a lot more elevation gain than what we have on Stage 1, but the majority of it all comes early on in the stage, with the final 40km not featuring too much in the way of climbing.
The closing circuit looks as follows, with a few short rises in it.
It is of course a possibility we could see someone try an attack on the circuit and hope to break the group up. The section between 3.5km and 5km on the image above will be crucial in terms of escape formation.
If the sprinters miss out the previous day, they won’t on this stage. The opposite situation is of course a possibility whereas the sprinters take the spoils on Stage 1 with an escape forming on Stage 2.
I still think that this stage is most likely to come down to a sprint though.
With that said, I’ll go with LottaLeipistö to take stage honours. She is on incredible form at the moment and will be able to handle the few small lumps we have in the finale. Her finish (or should I say Finnish…I’ll get my coat) sprint in Vargarda was incredibly powerful. If she pulls off something like that again then there won’t be many who can beat her.
Arguably the Queen stage due to its length and elevation gain, the road seems to be constantly up or down all day. Just before the riders reach the final circuit, they will complete an 8km drag that averages 1.5%. Now, I don’t expect this to cause any gaps, although the final 300m do average 7%, instead, it should be a wearing down process if some of the stronger teams really push the pace on. With 120kms in their legs already, I think a few riders might be caught out by it.
The closing circuit is very technical, with few really long straights. The old cliché of “out of sight, out of mind” rings true here! As for the altimetry, it can be split into; gradual rise, small hill, gradual descent, flat finish.
Will anyone try to attack on the steep 10% ramps of the climb and use the twisting streets to stay away?!
We even have some cobbles (well, paving stones) on part of the descent. This could become treacherous if the predicted bad weather arrives.
As for who might take stage honours? I’ll go with a Van Dijk late attack!
This is a tough race to call because the terrain itself isn’t overly difficult and all of the road stages in theory could end in a sprint if enough teams want it to.
Therefore the race could be decided by bonus seconds and how well a rider does in the opening prologue.
Yet, I think we’ll see some fast and very attacking racing this week, because the parcours isn’t too difficult. It is perfectly balanced in a position where a team can make some of the short climbs seem really hard due to the continuous rolling nature of the terrain. Furthermore, when the predicted rain and bad weather is thrown into the mix, we could see a tough race of attrition.
So for a rider to compete here they need to be good enough to be close to the head of the race after the prologue, fast enough to pick up some bonus seconds, and strong enough to follow any moves after an attritional day of racing.
Some riders to conjure with then are Pieters, Lepistö, Van Dijk, Kopecky and Bronzini to name but a few!
I’ll go with a MarianneVos GC win though.
The new European Champion is in sparkling form at the moment and she should be there on every stage. Her fast sprint means she should pick up bonus seconds and she’s not exactly a slouch in a prologue either. After all, she did win the opening prologue here back in 2014. A lot of riders will have her number marked, but with the way she is riding at the moment, it might be hard to stop her. She could feasibly win all 4 stages!
Excellent news, we’ll be able to watch all of the road stages live with the final two hours of each stage being shown on Norweigian TV2. For those not in Norway, there should also be a stream on the UCI website and Youtube channel!
At the moment there is no information if we’ll see any of the prologue but the live images for the stages are as follows (local Norwegian time);
Stage 1: 16’30 – 18’30
Stage 2: 16’30 – 18’30
Stage 3: 14’30 – 16’30
The official hashtag looks to be #LTON17 so you’ll be able to follow race goings-on before the live images with that.
Anyway, thanks for reading as always and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win the race overall? Will we see an attacking race, or one where the sprinters teams control things? Anyway,
The “richest race in women’s cycling” returns for its 5th edition, but second at World Tour level.
Last year saw KirstenWild take home the big prize, winning a bunch sprint ahead of ahead of Kessler and Kirchmann.
The race has a lot of positives going for it; big prize pool and live TV coverage are the main things.
However, the organisers can never seem to get the magical triple* just right, can they?
*Prize Money / Tv Coverage / Good Route
Which brings me onto another women’s preview where I annoyingly start by moaning and having a go at something, but after the nonsense TT (chase) we had last weekend, I’m past the point of caring!
Can we stop glorifying what are pretty much criterium races as progress for women’s cycling please? I’m not trying to be some internet white knight but they deserve better than this. Last week the opening “stage” of La Course was fantastic with the finish on the Izoard but making that only 67km was a little bit insulting. Having a criterium that is the same length and branding it as “spectacular” just takes the piss.
Why can the women not do the nearly the same route (the UCI limit of 155km will stop them doing it all) as the men, heck, they could even do the last 120km of it. I don’t understand why that is such a big issue for the organisers!
I miss the start of the season when we had races such as Strade Bianche etc, proper races that gave the women a chance to shine on a taxing course. Obviously, there needs to be a balance between having races for climbers and sprinters but I don’t see why races for the latter group have to be tamed down so much. Even at the recent Giro Rosa and Women’s Tour we had sprint stages of 100+km so there is no real reason why that couldn’t be the same here.
Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s getting me worked up.
A pretty much pan-flat 5.5km circuit around London taking in some famous sites. Maybe that’s what makes it “spectacular”?
I was going to create a route profile on Strava but there is not much detail to know more than there are a few false flat sections!
I’m not entirely sure how many times they’ll be doing the circuit as there is no official information on the website as to the number of laps, but last year it was 12 x 5.5km laps so I imagine it will be the same this year.
The one positive from this route is that fans get to see their favourite female cyclists 12 times…
We should see a sprint at the end of the day, it has ended in that manner in each previous edition, but there is always that 5% chance that a strong group gets away and there is no co-operation behind. That is very unlikely though!
The defending is champion is back here looking to take another victory. A little bit underwhelming so far this season, only taking two wins to her name. However, this type of racing suits her down to the ground and she can’t be ruled out. On form I would say it is hard for her to win, but given her nature I’d say it is very possible that she goes back to back!
The Belgian Bullet is arguably her biggest contender. The newly crowned Belgian champion got the better of Wild on two occasions in Chongming earlier this season. What’s even more impressive about that is that she was riding with an injury for the majority of the race! Having taken some more wins to her name since then, she has to start as the favourite in my opinion.
After her breakthrough season last year, Hosking has continued her success in 2017; notching up a few wins, including a strong sprint victory at the Women’s Tour. All of this has resulted in her contract being extended with Alé Cipollini, the Italian team have a lot of faith in her. In last years race she was boxed in and never really got going so she’ll be hoping to go better this time. With a 1st and 2nd at La Course and Madrid Challenge respectively last season, it is clear Hosking goes well on these type of kermesse style races. Having a rider like Bastianelli to lead her out means she should begin her sprint from a good position. Will she be challenging for the win tomorrow?
After a storming start to her season in the Spring, Lepistö returned to racing recently winning the National Championships double. More impressively though, she followed it up with a win and two second places at the tough Giro Rosa. A sign she is back up to race speed nicely! Her team support here isn’t great so she will have to go solo and jump onto another team’s lead-out but that is something she is capable of. She is a strong outside candidate for a good result.
A stand out performer in the Spring, the Sunweb rider picked up a couple of podium places at the Giro. Used to criterium style races thanks to her US up-bringing she will be strong on a course like this. With riders such as Brand, Kirchmann and VanDijk on her team, I would argue that she has the strongest lead-out in the race. Can she finish it off?
A preview isn’t complete without the best female rider of her generation. After crashing out of the Women’s Tour, Vos returned to racing at the BeNe Ladies Tour. It didn’t start off ideally for her when she crashed in the opening prologue, but from there it went exceptionally well! She picked up two second places and two wins to take the overall GC title. Is another win on the cards here?
The young Brit will be full of confidence after recently taking her first win at the aforementioned BeNe Ladies Tour. She escaped with Vos on the opening stage and managed to beat her in a two-up sprint, not bad! I have been very impressed with her this season so far and I think she’s capable of another good result here.
Every team has a rider or two who could be involved at the pointy end of the day so some riders to keep a look out for are;
There are too many teams interested in a sprint for us not to get a bunch gallop. With Bronzini leading her out, d’Hoore should be placed into a great position for the run to the line. These types of races are her bread and butter! She’s not let me down before, so I’ll go for her again, the Belgian Bullet to take the win!
I think Alice Barnes might sneak onto the podium too.
The last 40 minutes of the race are being shown live on BBC2 (from 6pm GMT), with the whole event being shown via the Red Button (from 5pm GMT).
As for international coverage I’m not too sure, but there are plenty of sites out there where you can stream BBC2! Maybe the BBC site itself will work via VPN?
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
This edition of La Course is a special one for me as it marks a year of writing women’s previews! Last year saw a sprint finish in Paris, with Hosking taking the win, somehow managing to avoid the now famous #HaugheyCurse. Maybe it was beginners luck?!
After 3 years with a glorified criterium on the Champs-Élysées, the ASO have decided to mix things up this year with a move away from Paris, instead heading into the mountains with a change of format.
I’m pleased to see things get mixed up and for the race to provide an opportunity for different riders to shine on “the biggest stage in World cycling”. Yet, I can’t help but feel somewhat let down.
Obviously, I don’t know the intricacies of the financial aspect surrounding organising the race but given the infrastructure will be there for the men, how difficult is it for the women to have at least a 5-day stage race that coincides with the Tour? Heck, if organisers are worried about difference in speeds and the potential issues that might cause then let the women do 75% of the stage for example, and start them earlier. With the limit on the length of stages by the UCI (155km I think) we would still be treated to some very exciting racing throughout the final week and it would be a much better showcase for the sport than what we’re getting.
I also feel that the new format is a bit “gimmicky” and trivialises the women’s side of the sport a bit. If it is for only one year then that’s OK, but if it becomes a regular occurrence then I think it is more of a step sideways rather than a step forwards.
Let’s have a look at what’s getting me all worked up anyway!
La Course this year will be split into two “stages” with the first being a mountain top finish on the mythical Col d’Izoard. I say “stages” as it is not a stage race in the traditional sense, and it’s important to point that out but I’ll get into that in more detail later on.
The riders will head south from the start in Briançon, following the same opening 30km of the men’s race, before they cut across the valley and head towards Izoard.
From the halfway point in the race (it is a paltry 67.5km long stage after all which is pretty insulting), the road rises ever so slightly almost all the way home. For example, the section between La Chapelue and Ariveux is 7.5km at just over 4%.
The categorised climb of the Col d’Izoard itself starts a couple of kilometres before Ariveux.
At 14.1km with an average gradient of 7.3% it is a brute, but is also fair to say that the first half of the climb starts off relatively “easy”. Well, when you look at the rest of it the climb that is!
The opening 7km average only 5.6%, whereas the second half is a much more painful sounding 9%. You better hold something back for the end of the day, that’s for sure.
Whoever wins on the day will certainly have deserved it!
Now, this is where things get weird / ever so slightly confusing / gimmicky.
The opening stage is the only one that counts towards UCI standings, with the winner being awarded 120 points, the same amount as they would in any other UCI World Tour race. So for the riders, the opening day is the only one that really matters to them in that sense.
Except, the racing doesn’t end after the first day though…
The first oddity is that there is essentially a rest day between the finish on Izoard and the following race day in Marseille.
The top 20 finishers on the previous stage (although this can apparently change depending on time gaps) will roll out on the same TT course that the men will be going around later that day.
However, instead of it being like a normal TT where the riders go out in reverse order GC wise, it will be whoever finishes at the head of the race on Izoard that leaves the start ramp first. The following 19 riders will then set off, chasing the leader, at the same time gap that they finished behind them on the mountain stage during the previous day of racing.
The “gimmicky” idea continues as the riders will all be on normal road-bikes (no TT machines allowed) and they will be allowed to draft and work with opposition riders or any team-mates that they may have.
This presents a conundrum for the riders going out early. Do they go full gas and replicate a TT effort, knowing they have a big enough gap to hold off any chasers. Or if their lead is minimal, do they sit up and wait?
We could end up seeing a bunch sprint in the velodrome if things get really tactical!
How will the “race” pan out?
Getting my poor prediction disclaimer in early but we hardly ever see the women compete on mountains such as the Izoard so I don’t think anyone has a real idea as to how well the riders will go.
At the recent Giro Rosa the defining GC climb of the race was 5.3km long at 7.6%. I guess the closest we’ve had to the Izoard is the climb of Daggett Summit in the Tour of California which was 12.6km at 6.1%.
With the day only being 67km long, I think the break will find it hard to get away but I’m sure there will be a lot of teams who will try. If they get riders up the road then they’ll be a great help to their team-mates later on.
However, I think we’ll see a race of attrition where riders go out of the back, rather than off the front.
The on the “TT” I have no idea! Will all depend on the gaps after Izoard but I think we could see the winner of that day hold on for the title too.
After her stellar performance at the Giro Rosa, a race which she could really have won, the Orica Scott rider will be coming here full of confidence. Arguably the in-form rider in the peloton she will certainly be hard to drop. Not the purest of climbers, more of a great all-rounder, I’m intrigued to see how she copes on a really long ascent. At the Giro she was the rider pushing the pace during the GC-day I mentioned above so it will be interesting to see how she approaches tomorrow. With a strong Spratt in her team, she will be able to rely on having someone for a long way up the climb which could be crucial.
Having had a quiet season by her standards, especially when considering her barnstroming 2016, the American showed signs of promise at the recent Giro. Working well for her team-leader she managed to finish 4th on GC, winning the final stage along the way. Possibly now riding into form, she is Boels best candidate for a race like this and having the help of Canuel and Deignan could be crucial.
The Italian champion finished second on GC at the Giro behind van der Breggen but never really looked like beating the Dutchwoman all race. However, with VDB not here, the race is certainly open for other riders to step up. Not a pure climber, she could struggle on the long climb but as one of the best riders in the women’s peloton then she will certainly be close to the head of the bunch. Lichtenberg will also be at the head of the race for Wiggle, with the German pure-climber really liking this type of ascent. Can they form a strong attacking duo?
Withdrawing from the Giro due illness wasn’t ideal for the Cervélo rider, especially considering she was flying before the race and could have been a proper GC player. A very strong climber, her mind will be fully focussed on this race and proving what could have been at the Giro. With UttrupLudwig on her team, she is another rider who could take advantage of a strong team-mate. I think she has a big chance!
One of the riders of the season, she has top-10’d in pretty much every race that she’s entered so far. At only 22 years old, it is scary to think what she’ll be able to do in the future. I’m not sure how she’ll cope on a long climb like this as the punchier 3-4km climbs seem to be her speciality but you never know!
Some outsiders to keep an eye on to possibly break into the top 10 are;
Gillow (FDJ), Nosková (Bepink), Ensing (Alé) and Nilsson (BTC).
I think the Izoard stage will become a Moolman v Van Vleuten show-down. With the Giro in her legs, VV will tire and leave the “fresher” Moolman to take victory!
As for who wins the TT/chase malarkey, then that depends on time gaps from the Izoard. Van Vleuten was flying in the TT at the Giro so I reckon she could catch Moolman and then win in a 2-up sprint!
So Moolman and Van Vleuten both win something, but who wins “La Course”? That depends on your interpretation whether you’re the UCI or the ASO!
All of the racing should be shown live by broadcasters throughout so check with your local provider. I’m pretty sure it is being shown pan-Europe on the Eurosport Player.
Hopefully the racing lives up to the billing tomorrow. I’m not too fussed about what we’ll see on Saturday though, but that’s just my opinion.
The only “Grand Tour” in the women’s peloton the Giro Rosa starts again this Friday for its 28th edition with a stacked peloton looking to make their mark on the race.
Last year’s GC was won by Boels’ MeganGuarnier, with team-mate Stevens coming home second and vanderBreggen in third.
Will we see a similar sort of dominance from the Dutch-team, who now of course have van der Breggen on board as well, or will some other riders be fighting for the overall victory?
First though, let’s have a look at what the riders will faced with over the coming 10 days.
All of the profiles used here are courtesy of @LasterketaBurua, so go and give them a follow on Twitter!
The questionable, poor quality route maps will be from the organisers website that I’ve screen shot. To be fair, the race is run on a shoe-string budget. Anyway…
A pan-flat late afternoon team time trial over 11km will set the early GC order. A discipline that is rarely practiced in the women’s peloton we could see some surprising time gaps.
With there being little in the way of technical difficulties, this TTT will all be about pure power. Although it is important to note that they pass over a causeway and the wind might play a part in the outcome depending on their start times. Looking at early forecasts it’s supposed to be a 16kmph cross headwind when the first team starts at 16:45, but it is meant to increase to around 18kmph by the time the final team leaves the start house. Furthermore, there is a higher chance of rain for the later starters. It could be a dicey opening day.
As far as stage contenders go though, Boels will no doubt start as the favourites. The current TTT World Champions are bringing a very strong team to the race and they’ve won the only TTT of the year so far at the Healthy Ageing Tour. However, they won’t have it all their own way with Canyon, Cervélo and possibly even Orica challenging for the win.
I particularly like the look of the Cérvelo team. They have a lot of strong time trial riders and will wan to put Moolman at an early advantage on GC over their opposition. I expect them to be Boels’ closest rivals.
A tease of a stage, it’s a relatively straight forward day until we get to the one categorised climb of the day. The road rises very gradually from around 30kms in all the way until the foot slopes of the Forcella di pala Barzana at 93km. At 5.3km long and averaging 7.6% it is a tough climb and I’ll be interested to see how the peloton approaches it. There are still 24km to go from the summit, of which 12km are descent.
I think we’ll see a selection on the climb. How select? That I’m unsure of. It looks tough enough for the best climbers to properly drop everyone, but will they feel confident going solo to the line with ~10km to the line left once they reach the bottom?
Therefore, I think we’ll get a group of 10 riders or so crest the climb together. From there, it will be a case of numbers/luck/timing as to if we see a small bunch sprint or a successful late attack stick. VanVleuten and vanderBreggen are two ideal candidates to win from this situation, both are great climbers and they both have fast sprints.
A lesser known rider to watch out for though is ArlenisSierra. I have to admit, before this season I didn’t know much about he Cuban rider, but she has impressed me a lot so far this year. Second at Trofeo Binda and third on GC in California, she packs a great sprint and might just pick up her first World Tour win this week!
Stages 3 & 4.
Both are days for the sprinters so I thought I’d club them together.
Stage 3 is the more rolling of the two, with some short and steep climbs out on course. However, there is enough time for the sprint teams to bring everything back together after the Poggio.
Stage 4 is about as pan-flat as you can get – a definite sprint!
So who will contend on these days?
The Belgian Bullet (Joliend’Hoore) will arrive here confident after her victory on the final day of the Women’s Tour. I think she’s one of the fastest pure sprinters in the peloton and with Bronzini as lead-out rider, they will form a formidable pairing. The latter might even sprint on a few of the days.
KirstenWild might have something to say about the above statement though. The Dutch powerhouse is ever-present at the pointy end of sprint stages finishing on the podium 7 times so far this season, winning 3 times.
Canyon have the choice between Barnes and Guarischi. The former obviously had an, ahem, barnstorming Women’s Tour and she’ll probably be their go to on the tougher days like stage 3. Whereas, Guarischi, a former winner at the Giro Rosa prefers things a lot flatter so she might be given the nod for stage 4. Either way, the team will be disappointed not to make the podium.
ChloeHosking will be hoping to take a couple of wins for her Italian trade team Alé Cipollini who she has just signed a new contract for. After a great 2016, she’s really continued her upwards trajectory and is now much more than a good flat stage sprinter. She can manage the climbs well too, as was highlighted by her win in the Women’s Tour when she came home first in a peloton of only 45 riders.
CorynRivera was the sensation of the Spring, winning Binda and Flanders. Although that’s probably unfair as since the start of March she hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in any race/stage she’s competed in. A truly remarkable record! She hasn’t raced much such California but recently came second at the US National Championships. I expect her to get a few top 3s this week and possibly win a stage. Even the difficult stage 2 could be on her radar.
Lotta Lepistö made her return to racing at the Finnish national championships recently, managing to secure both the road and TT title. Having won Gent-Wevelgem in a sprint against the likes of d’Hoore and Rivera earlier in the year, she is no slouch either! Like a few others, I think she might be targeting a few of the harder days in the saddle.
Boels have a number of sprint options; newly crowned Dutch Champion ChantalBlaak, newly crowned UK Champion LizzieDeignan, or current World Champion AmelieDideriksen. Not a bad list that! I’m not sure based on pure speed if any of them are the best sprinter here but they will certainly benefit from the strongest lead-out.
As for others who could be in the top 10 on sprint stages, look out for Moberg (Hitec), Confalonieri (Lesnworld), Fidanza (Astana), Huang (Servetto) and Scandolara (WM3).
After a few days unlikely to cause a GC shake-up, stage 5 certainly will.
Out of interest and in TT tradition, I’ve actually made a Strava profile of the TT that you can view here.
A tough ITT of 13km, with the routes main focal points being two climbs. It is one of those typical Giro stages that doesn’t look too bad on the profile until you delve a little deeper.
The first climb of Santa Lucia is 1.2km long and averages 10%. Ouch! The road then continues to rise at 4% for the next kilometre or so before we get a flattening out and a descent.
Once the riders pass the 10km to go mark the road rises almost all the way to the finish with a notable 300m section at 20%! The preceding 1.8kms averages around 5.5% which will make the seep ramp even tougher.
It does turn into false flat for the final few hundred metres so the riders will need to keep something in reserve for one final push, and not blow up too early.
I’m intrigued to see if riders will use their TT bikes at all or just stick to road bikes with bars on. I would certainly be looking to take the latter option!
As for who could win this stage, newly crowned Italian TT Champ Longo Borghini has a great chance. She was 4 seconds off the win in last year’s TT and this route seems to suit her even more. A strong showing here will cement her GC challenge.
She won’t have it all her own way as usual suspects vanVleuten, Moolman and vanderBreggen.
A lap circuit without any real difficulties. There is one 1.4km climb (averaging 3.7%) that the riders will tackle once on each of their four laps. Normally this would be a day for the sprinters but with the summit of the last climb coming 4km from the top, it will certainly entice late attacks from the bunch. The sprinters really shouldn’t be dropped from the peloton, it is more a case of people escaping off the front. A technical descent could see a small group maintain their lead and fight it out for the win.
If that’s the case, look for opportunists such as Cecchini, Spratt and Brand.
However, if we do get a sprint win I’ll go for Hosking. She should be able to cope with the climb easily and her team is capable of monitoring attacks etc.
A classic breakaway day, with the race starting on a climb it will ensure only strong riders get into the move. Will anyone close on GC try to sneak away? I doubt it, but there is a chance they might throw a spanner into the works.
There is a possibility that sprint teams might try to bring it back but it is another one of the stages where there is a lot of uncategorised climbs out on the course. Therefore, I think they’ll be happy to keep their powder dry.
It’s hard to tell who’ll be far enough back to be given some freedom but I’ll go for young Italian talent Sofia Beggin to take the win. A rider to look out for the future, she’s already produced some good performances this season with a 12th place in Strade and a 5th at the recent Italian Road Nats so there is clearly some form there. Furthermore, she’s the Madcon mash-up inspired pun (Beggin, Beggin you) team-name for my Velogames squad, so I have to include her in this at some point!
Another name that could be there though is Sheyla Gutiérrez. In her second season with Cylance the newly crowned Spanish champion will want to show her stripes off in an aggressive manner this Giro. Having won Le Samyn from a break earlier in the year, she is also a good candidate for a stage like this.
The Queen Stage of the race? Yes, in terms of climbing. However, the gradients of the climbs aren’t too hard, with them barely touching over 5%. Therefore it will be difficult for the pure climbers to make their mark on the stage.
However, with that being said, I still think we’ll see a selection on the day with the overall contenders going clear. I say this because of how long the climbs are, if a tough pace is set at the bottom then riders will be slowly churned out of the back of the peloton. We might see a group of 10-20 riders crest the Cuccaro Vetere together. From there it will be a mix of being strong and lucky to make the winning counter-move that is bound to follow. Can Niewiadoma repeat her win in the Women’s Tour?
A fairly tough opening half to the stage, the riders will do a lot of climbing which could allow the break to get a large gap. However, as this is the last chance for the sprinters I expect co-operation from all the teams to bring back the escape and we’ll have a bunch sprint in Polla.
With a straightforward closing circuit, I’ll go for a d’Hoore win here.
The final stage of the Giro sees the riders take on a circuit around Torre del Greco with a little trip (around a third) up Mount Vesuvius. The lap circuit isn’t too difficult, there are a few short climbs but nothing too serious. However, one of the major difficulties they’ll face is this ridiculously narrow street…
Hopefully they’re well strung out as they enter it, if not, I fear we could see some crashes.
The stage will be decided on Vesuvius and it could well go to a breakaway or one of the GC contenders. The climb itself averages roughly 6% for 5.2km but the closing 1.2km average 9.5%. It is certainly steep enough for the best climbers to create gaps.
The riders will then face a fast and technical descent (passing through that narrow street at ~3km to go) all the way to the finish line.
Will the rider who wins the stage win the overall title too?
I guess I better start with the defending champion MeganGuarnier. She’s been a shadow of the rider she was last season and given recent form, it is hard to say she will be competing here. However, this may have been her main target all season and she is potentially quietly peaking to go well here. Yet, I can’t see it happening for her unfortunately.
Waiting in the wings though will be team-mate van der Breggen. After a slow start to the year, she went on to win a famous Ardennes triple with some truly incredible performances. Following on from that she was instrumental in helping Deignan win the Tour of Yorkshire, before going on to win the GC in California. This route suits the Olympic Champion down to the ground and given her achievements she has to start as the favourite. However, her results haven’t been that great recently so maybe she is on a mid-season lull before peaking again for the end of the year?
Moolman will no doubt be challenging for the overall win this year. After struggling with an injury that hampered her early Spring season, she shook that off by the time the Ardennes classics came around. Finishing in the top 10 in each race was a sign she was returning to her spectacular best. Since then she’s been in great form, notching up three victories. Has she managed to keep that form up?
LongoBorghini comes to this race in a confident mood having won both national championship events. Suffering from illness earlier in the year, she missed some events and form for some of the key races in the calendar. However, he lighter schedule in theory should see her come here fresher than her opposition. Still only relatively young at 25 years old, she’s improving each and every year and I think she has a great chance of overall victory here.
Speaking of young riders, recent Women’s Tour winner Niewiadoma will be here looking to continue her incredible 2017. The WWT leader has been anything but exceptional this year, finishing in the top 10 in almost every race she’s entered! She only seems to race the big events and no doubt she’ll be looking to make it back-to-back GC wins at WT level. The TTT and ITT could hinder her chances but she can more than make up for it on her own on the climbs. I’ll be watching with interest!
VanVleuten is another rider in stellar form. The Orica star has a strong team here to support her, with Garfoot and Spratt expected to last the distance on a lot of the climbs. Maybe not as strong as some of the other women on the long climbs, she’ll be looking to attack at the end of stages where there are short ramps that act as launchpads. The Dutch TT champ will be looking to put in a good time in the individual effort and sees where that leaves her for the rest of the week.
I can’t really see anyone else challenging for the win but there are some outsiders who will be fighting for a top 5/10 and with a bit of luck, even better!
Sierra is an unkown quantity for this type of race. She really stepped up at the Tour of California finishing third on GC there. I’m not sure how she’ll cope with a longer stage race but a good performance here isn’t unlikely. If she manages another top 10, a move to a “bigger” WT team for next year could be on the cards.
Gillow comes here with a good chance of a top 10. A very consistent rider, the Aussie will be at the pointy end in most stages. If you watched any of the Women’s Tour, you’ll know she was off the front attacking in the final two stages, honing some form for this race.
I think not being on form for some of the Spring will be a blessing in disguise for LongoBorghini and she’ll take the crown here. She will lose some time in the opening TTT, but I think she has enough quality both on the climbs and the ITT to over-turn that.
Niewiadoma and Moolman to round out the podium, with the Boels riders shockingly falling by the wayside!
Unfortunately there is no live tv coverage of the race, but there will be daily highlights on RAI.
You should be able to access them via VPN I think but give Pam (@motorcycleMTNS) a follow on Twitter as she will no doubt have all the links or will record them and upload them to her Youtube channel.
Futhermore, we should expect highlights on the UCI Youtube Channel and the Giro Rosa has a YT Channel itself so we might see stuff there too.
During the stages themselves it will be a case of following on Twitter via the #GiroRosa hashtag. I would recommend following @richiesteege though (the Boels mechanic) who is one of the best sources for information during the race.
As the betting industry is in the dark ages and never offers odds on the races, I guess they’re just copying the coverage we get (I’ll stop before I get myself in trouble)…
I’ve set up a Velogames league for you all to join so that you can have an interest following the race.
Use the code “27002603” to join. I look forward to you all beating me 😳.
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated like normal! I don’t usually beg for RTs etc on Twitter but if you can do to raise awareness of this exciting race that’s run on a shoe-string, then that would be fantastic. Also, from a selfish point of view too, I’d like this to reach as many people as possible. I’ve not wrote 3200 words for nothing! It is after all the most comprehensive Giro Rosa guide on the internet 😉.
I shall be back tomorrow for the Tour with my stage 1 preview. Anyway,
A very attacking stage by the sounds of it, with a few riders up the road throughout the day.
For a while it looked as if the break was going to win comfortably as Niewiadoma was shouldered with a lot of the work. However, some sprinters/GC teams came to the fore and helped to bring the gap down.
Nonetheless, a trio of riders managed to stay ahead until the end. With Majerus and Kirchmann doing a lot of the work pushing on for GC, it was Roy who took advantage in the end: taking a very strong sprint win!
Majerus and Kirchmann move up to 2nd and 3rd on GC, mimicking their places on the stage. Niewiadoma has the GC sealed up though, with only one stage left in London tomorrow.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
A pan-flat jaunt around London.
14 laps of a 6.2km long circuit, too long to be a crit, I’d say it’s more of a kermesse!
Quite a technical course, positioning will be important coming into the last right hand turn before the slight drag to the finish line.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, it should end in a sprint. There is of course a chance that we get some type of late attack, à la van der Breggen at La Course in 2015. But yeah, 99.99999% chance it ends in a sprint!
So, late attack? 😉
With a stage win under her belt already, the Aussie sprinter will be full of confidence going into tomorrow’s stage. She’s in great form this year but would probably prefer a slightly tougher course. The slight drag to the line will help her though!
Leader of the intermediate sprints competition, the Wiggle rider hasn’t had a chance to shine at the end of a stage yet. However, it is hard to deny that she is probably the fastest sprinter in the peloton at the moment, having won 2 stages in Chongming not too long ago. This type of circuit suits her down to the ground and with Bronzini as a pilot fish, she should be guided into the perfect position with 150m to go.
Leader of the Best Brit category (just ahead of her sister), I imagine the Canyon rider will be sprinting to keep ahold of that title. Cursed at the start of the week by me naming her as my GC favourite, she’s not down too badly to be in 5th place. On stage 2 where she finished second, I think she actually looked like the fastest rider but was just caught out of position. Obviously tomorrow’s stage is a lot easier but she should be up there again. Some bonus seconds on the line could see her move onto the podium!
As much as they say there’s no sibling rivalry and that they get on well, the younger of the Barnes sisters will be gunning for victory tomorrow. Having taken a real step up this year performance wise and used to this style of racing due to her appearances in the Tour Series; I think she can feature prominently tomorrow.
With Majerus unlikely to move from second on GC, I think Boels will turn to the Tour de Yorkshire winner tomorrow. Well, unless they go for Blaak or Pieters, the latter could move into the top 10 if she gets some bonus seconds. Anyway, Deignan has been very quiet so far this race doing a lot of the work for the team, stating that she is here to build form for the national championships. I think she’ll want to test her legs in a sprint and what better to do so than at race pace tomorrow?! With the lead-out that Boels have, whoever they chose to be the sprinter has a great chance!
If we do get a late attack, look out for EllenvanDijk. She’s looked very strong this week and is one of the few riders who can hold off a charging peloton.
I’ll go for the Belgian Bullet Joliend’Hoore to take the win!
Thanks as always for reading and as usual any feedback is greatly appreciated! Hope you’ve enjoyed my take on this week’s racing. Anyway,