Elisa Longo Borghini and Jolien D'hoore are set to lead the way for the Wiggle High5 squad at next week's Ovo Energy Women's Tour. Longo Borghini will be looking to improve on her third place overall from last season, while D'hoore is hunting stage victories. Giorgia Bronzini, who recently won a stage of the Tour of California, will be another sprint option for the team.
After a strong start to the season, which saw her win Strade Bianche and lead the WorldTour rankings, Longo Borghini has been battling with illness. The illness interrupted her Ardennes campaign and forced her out of the Tour de Yorkshire. She returned to racing action on Sunday with a fourth place at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik.
D'hoore took the bunch sprint just behind Longo Borghini over the weekend. She has already amassed five wins this season, including the overall title at the Tour of Chongming Island. She has found victory at the race before, winning stage 2 of the Women's Tour in 2015.
"Finally I'm healthy again, because I've been through some bad weeks; from Amstel on," said Longo Borghini. "I took one week off, then I started building up again. I feel fine now, and hopefully, I can be in good shape for the Women's Tour. I will try to work very well with my team, and I'm pretty sure we can achieve good results."
Wiggle High5 for the Women's Tour: Giorgia Bronzini, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Jolien D'hoore, Emilia Fahlin, Claudia Lichtenberg, Elisa Longo Borghini
Moolman-Pasio on song as summer approaches
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) had a difficult winter after breaking her pelvis in a crash at the end of last season. She kick-started the new year with another national title, but things appear to be really taking flight for the South African as the summer season gets going.
After winning the overall classification at the Emakumeen Bira, Moolman-Pasio took back to back victories last weekend at La Classique Morbihan and GP de Plumelec-Morbihan. Moolman-Pasio out-gassed Canyon-SRAM's Alena Amialiusik and her teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to win on the Friday and had the Belarusian beaten again the following day with a late break for the line.
"I couldn't be in a better mind space right now. It was a tough start to the year with the injury, and it just took maturity and patience to be realistic about the comeback. It was great to have a training block after the spring in the mountains. I really enjoy going into the mountains and having fresh air and peace and quiet and get a lot of energy from that," she said.
"It's also nice to be with the team and part of such a nice group. We've had quite a lot of setbacks with injuries and illness and this sounds like a cliché, but once again we showed we're a special group, every girl rides with heart. That's why we're having success, and I am so grateful for all the support I have. To have teammates who believe in you makes all the difference."
Moolman-Pasio will now head to the Women's Tour next week with her teammates Uttrup Ludwig, Lisa Klein, Clara Koppenburg, Stephanie Pohl and Christina Perchtold.
Vos makes it three in a row
Victories are like busses, you wait ages for one, and then three come along at once. Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling) had to wait until May to open up her road account in 2017, but the Dutchwoman has now netted three straight victories.
The most recent of those victories came last weekend at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. Vos took the win from a four-rider group, beating Ellen van Dijk – who had started the move on the last lap – in the sprint. Vos had initially missed the attack from her former teammate, but she didn't relent and mounted a furious chase to get across to them.
"I looked around in the peloton and noticed many suffering faces, so I thought: I have to take my chances," says Marianne Vos, who in the last 10 kilometres opened all registers to ride to the front of the race.
"The gap was still quite significant. Even when I closed in by 15 seconds uphill, it was still a wide gap. Firstly, I picked up Yara [Kastelijn] and then I got the leading trio in sight which I could join two kilometres from the finish line. I was afraid that the chasing group would get organised and bring everyone together, so I took the initiative. I felt that I would have a chance if we could stay ahead. I was rather clever in the sprint as I started the sprint head-on so the rest would have to pass me against the wind."
Barnes excited to return to home roads at Women's Tour
After a spell at altitude following the Tour of California last month, British national champion Hannah Barnes is raring to go for the next round of the WorldTour, the Women's Tour. The opening stage of the race will begin in Northamptonshire, Barnes' home region, and she will be there with her Canyon-SRAM team.
"I am really looking forward to racing on home roads and seeing familiar faces," she said. "It's special to have the support, especially from family and friends that don't get to see me race very often and see for themselves the excitement around the racing. This is a great race on the calendar to be at."
Barnes will be the home favourite, particularly in the British champion's jersey, but she will have a strong team around her with former champion Lisa Brennauer back once again along with Italian champion Elena Cecchini.
The Women's Tour begins on June 7 and runs until June 11.
Canyon-SRAM for the Women's Tour: Hannah Barnes, Lisa Brennauer, Trixi Worrack, Alena Amialiusik, Tiffany Cromwell, Elena Cecchini