Specialized-lululemon line up for tomorrow’s edition of the women’s Tour of Flanders with a number of potential cards to play in the race. The race, which marks the third round of the women’s World Cup, sees the international squad line-up with a team consisting of Evelyn Stevens, Trixi Worrack, Carmen Small, Chantal Blaak, Lisa Brennauer and Tiffany Cromwell.
The team has gone without a win in the opening two rounds of the World Cup, but Cromwell, who signed for the team at the start of the year, believes that the squad is starting to find its stride.
“We just need a bit of luck and for our tactics to go the right way,” she told Cyclingnews before travelling to Belgium.
“I’ve not been flying at the moment but that’s maybe not a bad thing at the start of the season but I’ve had a couple of top tens and a podium, so I’m happy so far. Now the big races are coming and I want to have a few more podiums.”
“The hardest part for us was at the start of year. Half of us were new to the team and it takes a while for us to gel and workout how to race together. We’re starting to come together now and we’ve picked up results. For Flanders we will have a bit of an open plan but save maybe myself and couple of riders for the end. All of us, the entire squad, can all be good in these classics races.”
In a similar move to the men’s parcours, the women’s route has seen a number of changes. The race length has been extended, more cobbled sections have been added, while the finale of climbs come closer to the finish line.
“We have a number of cards that we can play and that’s the beauty because it keeps everyone else guessing. We go into races to be aggressive. That didn’t pay off last weekend because we were too aggressive to early and tired ourselves out,” Cromwell added.”
The World Cup
After two rounds of the World Cup Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) holds a healthy 70 point lead over Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team). Chantal Blaak is Specialized – Lululemon’s closest challenger in the competition as things stand but Cromwell is confident that the fairer reflection over the main contenders will be made over the next two rounds of the competition, although she admits that Armitstead and third placed Emma Johansson (Orica – AIS) are two of the standout riders for Sunday’s race.
“It’s a long season but obviously if you want to target the World Cup seriously then you have to target it from the start. After the third or fourth round it starts to solidify but I still think that it’s wide open. Having so many of the rounds at the start of the season sets it up and Lizzie is going amazingly well, Emma too but it’s still wide open. We’ve got Chantal up there but we have lots of cards to play.”