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,
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,
On the same day as the men’s event, the women’s Ronde may be 100km shorter but that doesn’t make it any less exciting!
Last year saw the race split up on the Kwaremont and Paterberg, and like most races in the spring of 2016, was dominated by Boels Dolmans. They had 4 riders in the front group of 10, and in the end it was Deignan (then Armitstead) and Johansson who gapped the rest on the run in. They duked it out for the sprint and it was Deignan who just pipped the Swede on the line, taking a great win!
Blaak won the sprint behind (ahead of team-mate Guarnier), to give Boels a 1-3-4-6 on the day!
Will the Dutch super team have it all their way this year? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
An “easy” opening 50km that only contains three cobble sections, before we get an action packed section of several hills and cobbled climbs.
That section is rounded off by the Muur at 60km to go. Although there isn’t any major obstacle for the following 20km almost, the famous climb might play more of a decisive role than it will in the men’s race!
The race finishes off with the same Kwaremont and Paterberg double and it surely will see some action as the stronger climbers and classics riders try to make their mark before the 13km to the finish line.
Will we see a reduced sprint or a solo rider make into Oudenaarde alone?
This is quite a tough race to predict as the balance between climbers and strong one-day racers is very fine. Also, this year of women’s racing has been the most open in recent years, with no repeat winners or even riders from the same teams in the World Tour!
Elisa Longo Borghini has been in exceptional form so far this year, winning Strade and finishing in the top 10 on two other occasions in the World Tour and currently leads the standings. She’s won this race in the past and is clearly suited to the terrain, coming 4th/4th/1st/5th in the recent 4 editions of the race. Not bad eh! You would expect her to be there or thereabouts again come the end of the race tomorrow.
She won’t be the only card Wiggle High 5 have though, as they can also rely on Belgian one-day expert, Joliend’Hoore. More of a sprinter than climber, that doesn’t take anything away from her ability to crush the short, cobbled climbs in this race. If the race is taken at a bit more of a mundane pace or there is a regrouping late on then she has a chance. However, with the chaotic day I can see playing out, unfortunately she might have to settle with sprinter for a top 10 from the third group.
Boels once again arrive with a very strong team to support last year’s winner Deignan. Or will they? Forced to miss Gent Wevelgem due to illness, i don’t think she’ll be back to 100% yet for this race and if she’s not at full fitness, she won’t win. They do have numerous other cards to play but VanderBreggen and Blaak look the best options. The European champion has had a slow start to the season but with her trying to peak more for the Ardennes, you would expect her to be going well just now. Blaak on the other hand has had a very good, consistent start to her season. Third here last year, she has a good chance of repeating that this time round.
In form LottaLepsito arrives with her Cervelo Bigla team. She is clearly climbing and riding better than ever, but this will be a completely different test for her. Like d’Hoore, it will be too fast up the climbs for her to cope, but if we do get a slowing of the pace and a bigger regrouping, she certainly would have a chance in the sprint.
Instead, I would be looking towards team-mates Moolman and UttrupLudwig for a course like this.
Team Sunweb arrive here with options to animate this race like they have down in others over the past month or so. Van Dijk is bound to try a solo attack from far out and she is probably one of the only women in the peloton who could pull it off! In Rivera they have a fast finisher who is climbing the best I’ve ever seen from her and she certainly can’t be discounted. I would have her as more of a favourite than d’Hoore and Lepisto for example. Then in Brand, Kirchmann and Mackaij they have great options to pepper the front of the race with attacks or cover the moves of dangerous opponents. If this was at the start of March then I’d have Brand as one of the favourites for the race, but after doing a season of cyclocross during the winter, her form seems to have waned a bit.
Niewiadoma will lead the charge for WM3 who are missing Marianne Vos. It will be hard for the Polish rider to win with a lack of team support in the closing kilometres of the race but she will certainly feature in the top 10. Her best chance is to infiltrate a small group of 4 or 5 that escapes on the Kwaremont/Paterberg or even on the flat run in to the finish.
Orica arrive with a good team, but they’re not as strong as they’ve been in the past few weeks. I imagine that Spratt and VanVleuten will be co-leaders and they certainly have a chance if both of them make the front group. If not, the sole rider will be in a similar situation to Niewiadoma, where you have to be on a good day, but also get lucky.
Other riders to keep an eye out for include;
Cecchini (Canyon SRAM),
The latter on that list has a very good chance if she’s climbing as well as she was in Strade!
The race will be determined by the tactics and numbers of Boels and Sunweb.
After a relatively poor season so far, by their standards, I fancy Boels to get it right this race. They’re likely to have more numbers in the front group than any other team and they’ll use it to their advantage. I’ll hedge my bets a bit and go for a ChantalBlaak win!
She has the abilities to attack from far out and hold the gap to the line, or as we saw last year, she has a great sprint from a reduced group.
We’ll get similar coverage to last year, where you can watch an unrestricted live stream of the race here. Or on the Flanders Classics facebook page.
Let’s just hope the quality is better than the 144p stream we had in 2016!
As I mentioned in the men’s preview, as a thanks for your continued support and to celebrate one year of blogging, I’ll be giving away one of the Handmade Cyclist’s pieces of artwork. More specifically, the Ronde one, duh!
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is comment on this post with who you think the winner of the Women’s RVV will be and make sure to leave your Twitter handle as this is how I’ll be contacting the winners.
If no one predicts the winner then it will go to second place and so on. Likewise, if we get more than one person who gets it correct, I’ll put the Twitter handles into a list on random.org and randomise three times to get our winner.
If you’re struggling to find the place to leave a comment, it should be at the end of this post and look like below
*Also, depending on how the men’s race goes, I might be in a buoyant enough mood to upgrade it to a framed version!*
Thanks once again for reading and as always, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Next for the blog will be daily Pais Vasco previews (starting tomorrow), although I’m not sure if I’ll have enough time to do a full GC one. That might just be an after thought at the end of the stage 1 preview. Anyway,
Last year saw this race take the step up to World Tour status along with a lot of other races in the cycling calendar due to the WWT. That meant that the field was even more stacked than normal and we had an incredibly tough, attritional race.
It was ChantalBlaak who attacked from far out, winning by a comfortable margin in the end as her Boels team-mates marked any moves behind. LisaBrennauer and LucindaBrand rounded out the podium over a minute down.
More of the same exciting racing this year? Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the riders.
The organisers have taken advantage of the increased race distance that was permitted by the UCI so this year the riders will have tackle 146km, compared to the 115km in last year’s edition!
The peloton will cover a lot of flat lands at the start of the race, but the most decisive section will be from 70-110km, when we tackle some climbs. Both cobbled and not! On the run in to home we also have some small rises that create an opportunity to attack. Even the flat run in can be a launchpad if we get a tactical finale.
The run in to the finish line is pretty much pan-flat and dead-straight for the final 3km.
One of the major factors that can often play a part in the outcome of this race is the weather and in particular, the wind!
It looks as if we’ll get a fairly constant wind throughout the day, with some potential for stronger gusts. The wind direction means that a lot of the middle of the race will be crosswinds, but as the road constantly changes, so will the affect that the wind has on the bunch; cross, tail, head wind etc.
It looks as if the run-in will be a cross-head wind, which would not favour a solo rider. But after a tough day on the bike, there might not be much left to chase behind!
The defending champion, ChantalBlaak, arrives with a strong team on paper to support her. Yet, I am wary as to how well the Boels team will go because they had to pull out of Dwars mid-week due to widespread illness in the team. For example, Deignan has had to pull out of the race as she is still unwell. Blaak herself has yet to win this season, but she is very consistent over this type of terrain and I wouldn’t rule her out. Likewise, Amy Pieters has performed well but is without a win too. She pulled out Trofeo Binda due to not feeling well so she’ll be hoping to have recovered for this! World Champion Amalie Dideriksen picked up Boels’ first WT win of the season in Ronde van Drenthe and she may well be the teams best chance of another victory here. She is flying at the moment, and her sprint in the final of Van Drenthe was very similar to that of her male WC counterpart.
Team Sunweb have been my team of the early season so far. They’ve animated every race that they have been entered in and I expect more of the same from them tomorrow! In Brand and VanDijk they have great options to attack early and try to force splits in the peloton, which I can almost guarantee they will do. Whereas, I imagine Rivera will shadow moves from other teams and be an option for the squad if we get a reduced bunch sprint. She is exceptionally fast and took a dominant win in Trofeo Binda, more of the same here?
ElisaLongoBorghini will be hoping to maintain her WWT lead after this race. The Italian has been exceptional this year so far, finishing inside the top 10 of all three WT events. However, she seemed to struggle here last year, finishing over 2 minutes down. Will her great form compensate for that? I think so. Wiggle also have the luxury of Belgian sprinter come cobbles expert Joliend’Hoore who I expect to be there at the pointy end of the race.
Orica have been very active in recent races but are without a win to show for it. They once again bring an attacking team, with VanVleuten, Spratt and Elvin they’ll be hoping to go better here. I would suggest that Van Vleuten is their best option!
After a 5th place in Dwars, ThalitaDeJong has staked her claim for this race. The former Cyclocross World Champion loves tough terrain and I fancy her to go well here. Now riding for the Lares-Waowdeals she will be the de-facto leader and have the full support from her team. Can she cope with the pressure?
Another rider I’m keeping an eye on this season is Lotto’s LotteKopecky. The 21 year-old is a great talent and has featured near the front in all of the races she’s entered so far this year. Terribly unfortunate in Van Drenthe, crashing out of the lead group, I imagine she’ll be wanting to make amends here. With a good kick after a tough day, she’s not one to rule out!
There are several riders from other teams who I expect to feature in the top 20, but I don’t have enough time to go over them in-depth;
UttrupLudwig and Lepisto (Cervelo),
Hosking and Ensing (Ale Cipollini),
Barnes and Cecchini (Canyon).
It will be another attritional race but the cross-head wind on the run in may be detrimental to lone attackers. Unless of course you are Ellen Van Dijk! Therefore, I think we might get a small sprint from around 5 riders and I’ll for a bit of an outsider; Kopecky to win. The extremely talented Belgian should have the speed required to beat her competitors at the end of a tough day!
Thanks for reading the preview as always, and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Unfortunately, there will be no live coverage but there should be highlights at some point. Anyway,
On a very different course last year, we saw Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead) win a a sprint from a group of strong climbers/one-day racers, after the race was blown to bits on the final lap. It was a great show of strength from the Brit!
The 2016 edition however doesn’t seem to be one that will suit Deignan and it will see a different type of rider come to the fore.
Let’s have a look at the course.
A glorified criterium is the best way to describe it if I’m being honest. The riders will have roughly 28km to travel through the suburbs of Doha before reaching the Pearl Circuit that has been the focal point for these Championships.
There’s not much to talk about here if you’ve managed to watch any of the races so far. The Pearl Circuit itself is fairly technical with a lot of roundabouts and sharp corners, and this technical nature will be more evident in the road race compared to the time trial as riders won’t have the time to pick their own lines around the corners.
Therefore, it is important to be relatively close to the front of the bunch. Herein lies the problem, as everyone will be fighting to be in that top 40 riders. Which could cause some crashes/splits like we saw in the U23 men’s race today!
Conversely to the technical nature of the course, the closing kilometre or so of the circuit is very open and this means riders are able to move up, and the peloton spreads across the road. This creates a very messy sprint, but being able to follow the right wheel or your own sprint train is key, but luck and bravery will also play a big part.
Around the 200m to go mark the road dips down before rising again to the finish.
As you can see above it’s not a severe hill and considering the speed at which the riders should be going at then it won’t cause too much difficulty. But it is certainly something to note and you don’t want to be opening up your sprint too early, that’s for sure!
It should end in a bunch sprint but there will be a a few teams who will want to roll the dice in a breakaway/late attack.
The women seem to be striking lucky with the weather and they should be in for a relatively relaxing day.
The wind isn’t that strong at all and it probably won’t affect the race. Although, there seems to have been barely any noticeable wind at all in Qatar so far. That was particularly evident when there were high winds predicted for today. Maybe high winds = low, and vice versa?!
Temperature wise, it’s what the riders would expect but it is forecast to be a few degrees lower than we’ve had in the past few days. I’m sure the peloton will be glad to hear that!
For this, I’ll go through the major nations highlighting those with a chance followed by those from the smaller teams.
Where best to start than with defending champion Deignan and the GreatBritain team. As I said in the introduction, this course is probably too easy for Deignan so she may not be the best option for them. Instead, I think they should turn to Hannah Barnes for the sprint. She put in a very solid TT (not her favourite discipline) on Tuesday so there is clearly some form there. With a fast finish she could challenge here but will probably need a bit of luck as I don’t think she is as fastcompared to some of her competitors. Team GB may try and stir things up with a late attack, watch out for Dani King if that’s the case.
The Queen of Qatar, Kirsten Wild, arrives her with an incredible Dutch team. Four time winner of the GC in the Tour of Qatar, she knows how to handle the wind and conditions here. Supporting her lead-out, she will have Chantal Blaak, Amy Pieters and Marianne Vos, not bad eh?! The one thing that concerns me is that everyone on the Dutch team could potentially win this race in varying situations. Put it this way, out of the top 15 favourites (by the bookmakers), 7 of them are Dutch! I’d be feeling left out if I was Roxane Knetemann. Will they put all their eggs in one basket and will they want to? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on Saturday.
Another nation with a similar problem is the Italians. They’ve brought a team stacked with sprinting talent. Again, I’m not entirely sure who their lead rider will be, either; Bronzini, Bastianelli or Guarischi. All of them have their pros and cons, but I would narrow it down to Bronzini or Guarischi. Bronzini is the experienced and reliable rider but Guarischi is more of a “pure-sprinter” and she has beaten the other two most recently. In my opinion, I would have Guarischi as Plan A and Plan Bronzini. If Guarischi can be positioned well then she has a good chance of a podium!
A team that has arrived with a plan is Australia. They’re all in for their sprinter ChloeHosking. With a strong set of rouleurs and lead-out riders in the team, including TT Bronze medalist Garfoot, they should have the pulling power to position Hosking perfectly at the end of the day. It will then be over to the 26-year old to finish it off. Winning on her last start (GP Beghelli) she’ll be brimming with confidence and I think she might just do it.
Belgium will turn to their star sprinter Joliend‘Hoore to take home the rainbow jersey. She doesn’t have the strongest of teams with her and the lead-out looks a bit scarce but that shouldn’t impede her too much. She’ll be disappointed with anything less than a podium.
With the field being so stacked and the fact I’ve already rambled on a bit, the rest of this will be slightly shorter than intended!
CorynRivera will have the full backing of her US teammates. As a rider who’s came from crit-racing she’ll love this course and could certainly spring a surprise.
The French will turn to RoxaneFournier most likely, who took a big win at La Route de France earlier in the year. I’m not convinced she has the legs to win, but a top 5 would be a great result.
Canada have two sprint options in the form of LeahKirchmann and Joëlle Numainville. Kirchmann is probably the faster of the two but again it will probably come down to who’s feeling best on the day.
Lisa Brennauer will most likely be the sprinter for Germany, but she probably would have preferred a slightly harder circuit.
Lepistö (Finland), Moberg (Norway), Majerus (Luxembourg), Bujak (Poland) and Dideriksen (Demark) will all be fighting for a top 10 placing which would a good result, with Lepistö the most likely to get any higher than that.
I’ve had this rider in mind for a while and I may be slightly biased as she’s in my fantasy team, but I think this is Chloe Hosking‘s big chance to win the Rainbow Jersey. She might not be as fast as Wild and d’Hoore, but she is very close to them in that sense. Finishing 1st and 2nd at the Tour and Vuelta races respectively, highlights just how fast she is and will be confident from those results. Her main asset however, will be a dedicated lead-out. The rest of the team should be able to look after her throughout the day, making sure she makes as little effort as possible until that final sprint. Furthermore, they’ll be able to position her perfectly at the front with 150m to go, and Hosking will duly deliver!
I’ve been wanting to back this for a while (and it’s a shame the male rider in question had a very strong Eneco Tour and his odds have shortened)…
Sticking to my guns;
Hosking and Sagan double @34.75/1 with William Hill, 0.8pt EW. Also available at B365 @31.5/1.
Other bookmakers will hopefully price up the women’s race soon and you might be able ot find better odds somewhere. Both of them should hopefully podium at least for some kind of return!
One rider that I do think is overpriced for the women’s race is:
Guarischi @ 80/1 with Bet365, 0.2pt EW on her.
Thanks again for reading! How do you think the race will play out? Will the sprinters have their day, and if so, who do you think will win? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,
In a slight change from normal, I’ll be giving women’s cycling the attention it deserves by having a look at the 3rd edition of “La Course”.
It may not be the most prestigious race in women’s cycling, but due to it being coupled with live broadcasts of the men’s Tour, it’s very important for the growth and exposure of the sport.
The first two editions of the race saw fast and aggressive action from the riders with the peloton splitting up around the streets of Paris. In 2014, the imperious Marianne Vos took a sprint victory out of a reduced group of around 20 riders. Last year saw the weather cause havoc out on the course, with there being numerous crashes and pile-ups. Anna van der Breggen seized her opportunity and time trialed away from the bunch on the final lap, winning with enough time to sit up for a victory salute as a chasing “peloton” of 10 riders finished one second behind.
Could we be in for a similar situation this year? Let’s take a look at the route.
The “La Course” course
A simple circuit around the Champs-Élysées, using the same roads that have become iconic in the men’s race as a traditional end to the Tour.
The nature of the fast flowing circuit will ensure that the race will be covered at a remarkable pace, with it probably being completed in around 2 hours.
The circuit itself climbs a little bit here and there, but nothing too crazy, gaining around 50m in elevation. Completing it 12 times will drain some of the riders. Especially considering the aggressive racing that we so often see, and that I absolutely love, in women’s cycling.
One thing that the majority of the riders will be thankful for is that the weather forecast is much better this year. It looks set to be sunny all day, so they should have dry cobblestones and there hopefully should be fewer crashes.
How will the race pan out?
The aggressive tactics really opens the race up. With the most likely outcome being some kind of sprint by the end of the race.
In 2014 we had good conditions and 25 riders came home within 10 seconds of the winner (Vos) and oddly enough, during the tough conditions last year 25 riders also came home within the same amount of time. So we’ll get a peloton of 25 coming to the line together then…simple!
Yet, there’s a chance that might not happen.
Smaller teams (6 riders max) means that the races are quite tough to control, so the majority of the teams adopt the old adage of “attack is the best form of defence”. Therefore, we’ll see teams with very strong sprinters such as Wiggle High5 possibly send riders up the road, Dani King for example, to cover moves from other teams.
These attacks can often stick, which opens up the possibility of a whole host of riders who can win the race.
2014 winner Marianne Vos has to come into this race as favourite. She’s had a great 2016 so far, after being out pretty much all of last year through injury. Winning 3 stages at the recent Thüringen Rundfahrt, she’s evidently in great form. Capable of winning a sprint from both small and large groups, she is a real danger!
The team with the best lead-out in the race has to be Canyon SRAM. As reigning World TTT champions, they are a massively powerful unit. They’ll have a choice of two sprinters; Barbara Guarischi or Lisa Brennauer. The former will be there if there is a large bunch sprint of around 50 riders, whereas I suspect Brennauer will be their card to play in a reduced bunch gallop.
Chloe Hosking or Amy Pieters will be Wiggle High5s sprinters of choice, with Hosking probably getting the number 1 card. She took a great win at the Giro Rosa earlier in the year, and will get the chance to lead the team after working for D’hoore last year. Pieters will be the option if the race gets wild, she did finish 3rd last year after all!
Team Liv Plantur will look towards their Canadian sprinter, come all-rounder, Leah Kirchmann. She’s had a great maiden season in Europe, after joining from Optum at the start of the year. Capable of mixing it in big bunch kicks, but also smaller sprints, she’ll be aiming for a podium. After all, she finished 3rd in the inaugural edition of La Course.
Boels Dolmans have several cards to play like always, they are incredibly strong! I’d fancy Chantal Blaak or ChristineMajerus to be their team leaders.
Other sprinters include; Coryn Rivera, Lotta Lepistö, Roxanne Fournier & Marta Bastianelli.
There are a whole host of riders who will fancy their chances if the favourites play games with each other. I’m not going to go through them all but some names to listen out for during the stage are; Brand, Van Dijk, Cromwell, Cucinotta & Zabelinskaya.
The most likely outcome tomorrow is a sprint. In tradition of my previews, I’ll go for a bit of an outsider and say that the sprightly Aussie, Chloe Hosking, will take a memorable win! She’s done a lot of work for team-mates here in the past and will be duly rewarded tomorrow.
Hope you enjoyed this preview! I want to focus on women’s cycling whenever I can, and when the races are broadcast. I find the racing more exciting than the mens at times, it’s a lot less predictable. Would you like to see more previews? As usual, any feedback is great 🙂 Anyway,