Sanchis, Johansson, Lepistö among double national champions
At least 13 women earned both time trial and road race titles in their national championship events this weekend, with Swede Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), Wiggle Honda's Anna Sanchis (Spain), Bigla's Lotta Lepistö of Finland and Boels Dolmans' Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) among them.
Sanchis confirmed her return to the top of the sport following last year’s virus-hit season, with an emphatic sprint on the uphill finishing straight in Cáceras, in the east of Spain to best 2013 champion Ane Santesteban (Inpa Giusfredi) and Alicia Gonzalez (Asturiana).
“I’m so happy!” Sanchis exclaimed. “I didn’t think I could win today. I’m not really fast in the sprint, but it was an uphill sprint and it was okay; I won!”
It's the second time that Sanchis has doubled in the Spanish championships - she won both in 2012 and the time trial in 2013.
Johansson stacked on her 12th Swedish championship while completing her double this weekend, spending 100km off the front of the road race - initially with one other rider Moa Johansson and then solo for the final 50km.
“I’m more than happy, I’m relieved,” Johansson said. “With all my other results, it might not make sense that this is a really important one for me, but it is. It’s one thing to win the time trial, but this is even better. There are more things that come into play here – tactics, technical difficulties, luck."
Lotta Lepistö gave Bigla their sixth national title and the fourth straight road race title in Finland this weekend, adding to her win in the time trial. Heavily marked as the overwhelming favourite, the 25-year-old attacked several times to no avail before ultimately waiting for the final kilometer to make her decisive move.
"There were two corners in the last kilometre and I put the hammer down there. I wasn’t actually feeling that great and was hoping I could get away solo earlier but others could follow my attacks.
“It’s always an honour and even though I've had the jersey for a long time now I don’t take it for granted. It’s really special.”
Also winning both time trial and road race national championships were: Martina Ritter (Austria), Olena Pavlukhina (Azerbaijan), Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), Martina Sablikova (Czech Republic), Reyhaneh Khatouni (Iran), Lija Laizane (Latvia), Christine Majerus (Luxembourg), Daniela Reis (Portugal), Ana Covrig (Romania), and Jennifer Cesar (Venezuela). Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (South Africa) won her two titles earlier this year.
Longo Borghini a frustrated second in Italy
Elisa Longo Borghini missed out on her chance to don the coveted tricolore in Italy this weekend. The Wiggle Honda rider missed the breakaway, from which Elena Checchini won, but after chasing for the better part of the race just missed catching her by 21 seconds, although she passed the rest of the breakaway remnants.
"The race is always strange, and in the end this break went away and nobody would work with us; even teams that had nobody in the break," Longo Borghini said.
“I’m pretty happy that Cecchini won, because she’s a strong rider. But I wanted the nationals, I wanted the tricolore. I didn’t want anything else this season. It was really important for me, and I really wanted to win. I thought I was the strongest, but sometimes the smartest wins.
“I had pretty good legs,” she added. “I went away when I wanted, even after I had chased for 80km, but I’m just really sad not to win. Sometimes you just have to say the truth: it’s not only flowers all the time.”
Drexel triples in Mexico
Astana - Acca Due O's Ingrid Drexel won her third national title in the Mexican time trial championships. "I'm very happy for the result but it was very hard because we had a very close race: I took a fast start but at I had only a few seconds at the intermediate split, so I had to give everything I had till the finish line. I want to thank all the people who support me, my family, my coach, my team, the sponsors and all my friends," Drexel said.
Numainville reclaims road race title in Canada
Joëlle Numainville became the Canadian National Road Champion for the third time on Friday after outsprinting defending champion Leah Kirchmann to claim victory. The race took place on the same course as 2013 when Numainville last won the title.
“I’m super happy to bring the jersey back to Europe,” Numainville said. “Being able to carry your country’s flag for a year is special at every race you go to. I was focused on these nationals for a long time. Everything I’ve done the past few weeks has been for this. I was at altitude in Colorado for a few weeks then got some good racing in with Bigla and the national team. I knew the course suited me. It’s always tough when you line up against teams with multiple riders and I was alone here but it was an uphill finish and I knew if I was just patient that I had a really good chance.”
Orica-AIS support Garfoot at Giro Rosa
Orica-AIS will line up with an eight-women team for the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile set to kick off on Friday with a two-kilometre prologue in Ljubljana. According to the team’s director Gene Bates, they hope to gain experience from the biggest women’s stage race in the world.
“The first goal is to gain experience in a stage race such as the Giro,” Bates said. “For the women, it’s the biggest race of the year and there is a lot of hype with that.
“It’s a great race and this year it’s all in the north of Italy so we are really excited that we will be racing pretty much in our back yard.”
The team will support Katrin Garfoot for a top overall place. It is the 33-year-old’s second time competing in the stage race and she recently showed good form with strong performances at the Euskal Emakumeen Bira.
“We will go in with Kat trying to get a good classification result,” Bates said. “She has been climbing really well and in Bira she really came to the front of the racing which was great to see.
“With her known time trialling ability, it puts her in a good place to go for the overall. We won’t put any expectations on it but we are looking forward to seeing what she can do in that area.”
Garfoot will be joined by Chloe McConville, Rachel Neylan, Sarah Roy, Valentina Scandolara, Amanda Spratt, Macey Stewart and Lizzie Williams.
Lichtenberg returns to Giro Rosa for a top overall place despite recent injury
Former Giro Rosa winner Claudia Lichtenberg will return to the Italian stage race with a goal of taking a top overall placing for her Liv-Plantur team. She is fresh off a second-place finish at the German Road Championships and will likely carry that form into the nine-stage race that starts on Friday in Ljubljana.
Lichtenberg was sixth overall last year behind Rabo-Liv trio Marianne Vos, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Anna van der Breggen, along with Mara Abbott in third and Elisa Long Borghini in fourth.
She will be joined by strong climber Sabrina Stultiens, Willeke Knol, Floortje Mackaij, Sara Mustonen-Lichan, Julia Soek, Kara Stijns and Molly Weaver.
“With Lichtenberg and Stultiens we have two women who belong to the best climbers in the peloton. However, Stultiens is recovering from sickness and Lichtenberg is just returned from a long period of injury absence, but her second place at the German Nationals do give confidence. But we will have to await to extend they are ready to compete for a nice GC result,” said coach Hans Timmermans.
"With Mackaij, Stijns and Weaver we have three debutants. For them it will be their first experience in the Giro Rosa, which will become a nice adventure for their development at their age. For Mustonen-Lichan we must find a balance between her supporting role and going for her chance in the sprints. We will reconsider this day-by-day.”
Tour of Utah announces women's teams
Eighteen women's teams have accepted invitations to the two-day Tour of Utah Women's Edition Criterium Classic, held on August 3 in Logan and on August 4 in Ogden. Five UCI teams are confirmed including Itaú Shimano Ladies Power Team, BMW presented by Happy Tooth Dental, Pepper Palace Pro Cycling presented by The Happy Tooth, Team TIBCO-SVB and UnitedHealthcare.
The domestic elite and composite teams include Canyon Bicycles-Shimano Composite, Colavita/Bianchi presented by Fine Cooking, DNA Cycling presented by K4, Fearless Femme presented by Haute Wheels Racing, ISCorp Cycling presented by Smart Choice MRI, JetCycling U25 Women’s Devo Team, Monster Media Elite Women’s Team, Roosters Bikers Edge, SKINourishment presented by Paceline Projects, Sun & Ski Women’s Elite Team, Visit Dallas Cycling presented by Noise4Good and Zoca-Colnago presented by Novatec.
The final rosters for each team will be announced on August 1.