Welcome to Cyclingnews' round-up of highlights from the international women’s cycling scene.
Boels-Dolmans look ahead to European season after Qatar victory
Boels-Dolmans stole the show at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, winning three of the four stages and the overall title. Lizzie Armitstead wrapped up the early-season race with the overall win on February 6. She took the race lead after her stage 3 win and secured the overall title upon winning the stage 4 finale, along with the overall points jersey. Her teammate Ellen Van Dijk won the second stage and placed second in the overall, showing the duo will be tough to beat this season.
Armitstead noted that she still has room for improvement as the season gets going but that she is pleased with her team’s early success. “Yes, I had a good winter, but there are still possibilities for improvement before the European road season starts. Right now I'm very proud of Boels-Dolmans, we rode as a team from start to finish. It was really a team effort.”
Boels-Dolmans will start their European season at the UCI 1.2 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 28 in Belgium. Armitstead was third in the elite women’s race last year, behind Dutch rider Amy Pieters and Sweden’s Emma Johansson.
Alé-Cipollini surprise in Qatar
The Italian team Alé-Cipollini proved that they have the speed to top the podium in the big races this year, and against the fastest women in the world. Annalisa Cucinotta caught everyone’s attention when she out-sprinted the likes of former world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) to take the stage 1 win and the first leader’s jersey, while her teammate Marta Tagliaferro placed third. Beatrice Bartelloni went on to win the event’s best young rider competition.
"Again the girls had done a great job putting Annalisa in the best place to compete in the sprint. We are very happy with what we have done in these days. We had promised to be leaders and we did it. It brought us the first victory of the season. I think we can go home happy," said team director Fortunato Lacquaniti.
Alé-Cipollini's second team director Giovanni Fidanza believes that it’s the team’s cohesion that led to their success in Qatar. "Great team spirit, this was our trump card, the one that allowed us to return from the Emirates with a button of all respect, the results of which we can be proud."
Twenty16 presented by Sho-Air host team camp in Northern California
The US-based Twenty16 presented by Sho-Air met for a pre-season training camp in Norther California last week. The American women’s cycling team has returned to the UCI ranks after a one-year hiatus and Sho-AIr is a new sponsor of the team. The team's race program is largely focussed on domestic events and preparing their riders for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The 2015 roster includes Carmen Small (USA), Lauren Hall (USA), Jess Cerra (USA), Lauren Komanski (USA), Allie Dragoo (USA), Kaitie Antonneau (USA), Andrea Dvorak (USA), Alison Jackson (CAN), Allison Arensman (USA) and Amber Gaffney (USA). Junior athletes are Maddy Boutet (USA) and Summer Moak (USA).
The Friends Life Women's Tour announce 2015 host cities
Organisers of the 2015 Women’s Tour have announced the host cities for the starts and finishes of all five stages. The race will take place from June 17-21.
Two teams have been confirmed to start the Women’s Tour: Matrix Fitness, which recently signed British road champion Laura Trott, and Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International Boot Out Breast Cancer. The remaining teams will be announced in the spring.
"The Friends Life Women’s Tour gave us the platform to step up to the professional level in 2015, and for that reason alone this race is extremely special to the team," said Matrix Fitness manager Stefan Wyman. "We are very proud to be returning to the second edition of the race and look forward to battling it out with the world’s best teams, in this, the world’s best race."
Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv Woman Cycling) won the inaugural edition of the Women's Tour last year.
Stage 1, June 17: Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh
Stage 2, June 18: Braintree to Clacton
Stage 3, June 19: Oundle to Kettering
Stage 4, June 20: Waltham Cross to Stevenage
Stage 5, June 21: Marlow to Hemel Hempstead
Moolman-Pasio defends time trial and road titles at South African National Championships
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio took double national titles in the elite women’s individual time trial and the road race in South Africa, successfully defending her winning performances in both events from last year.
The Bigla rider won the time trial title in Nelspruit at the Mbombela stadium, one of the venues for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, covering the 34km course in 46:30 minutes, 41kph. “I’m very happy to defend the title especially as we have a big focus on the time trials this year at Bigla.
"I’m very happy to have the national title to take overseas. From the start when I saw the course I realised it’s the type of course that suited me. It’s a great combination of technical, climbing and some fast stretches. I put in some really hard efforts on the climbs then a bit of recovery through the technical sections and fast downhill stretches. I enjoyed the day out there," Moolman-Pasio said.
She won the 112km national road race, eight laps of a 14km circuit, after reducing the field to just eight riders and then making her winning attack on the last climb to win solo.
"I’m so happy to win again," she said. "I say it over and over again it’s so special to win the national title, especially taking the jersey overseas and I wear it with pride. It’s a pre-Olympic year and I’ll do my best to fly the flag high. With the new Bigla team it’s amazing to have the double title again and with such an amazing new team, I just cant wait to wear the jersey again overseas.
"The race was tough. I was stressed for a little while as the girls were marking me. I’ve decided to be stronger later in the season, which is something I have lacked. I have just come off a big base block and haven’t done a lot of intensity, and towards the end I was thinking, it’s going to come to a sprint and it’s always a risk with no intensity in the legs. On the last climb I just decided to give it everything and when I looked back and they weren’t on my wheel, I was just so relieved and kept pushing to the line. It’s always wonderful to win solo."
Woodruff and Blevins team up at Stan's NoTubes-Niner
Chloe Woodruff, 27, and Kaylee Blevins, 19, will compete for the new Team Stan’s NoTubes-Niner squad for the 2015 season. The pair will focus on elite cross country mountain bike racing domestically and on the World Cup.
"Stan’s NoTubes and Niner have given Kaylee and me a platform to work together and see what we can do," Woodruff said. "We’re looking at racing a full UCI World Cup schedule, and we’ll have a presence at the largest domestic races."
Blevins added, "My goals for 2015 are continuing to improve in the Under 23 category. Last year for me was an introduction to racing with the pros. I want to do well in the World Cups and continue to have fun."
Back-to-back wins for Cant in Belgium cyclo-cross
World Cup series winner Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) may have been disappointed to lose the world title to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in Tabor at the end of January, but she can be pleased with her latest string of victories at the Bpost bank Trophy series finale in Lille on Saturday and at the penultimate round of the Superprestige on Sunday in Hoogstraten, which marked her 17th UCI win of the season.
"It doesn’t make sense to dwell on the World Championships, but today I cycled out my frustrations. I needed that," Cant said following her win in Lille. "But it motivates me to work even harder this summer and next year to win.”
She took her fifth win of this season’s Superprestige eight-round series, also winning in Gieten, Zonhoven, Ruddervoorde and Gavere. There is no overall classification for the women in the Superprestige series but she is pleased with her performances nonetheless. The finale round eight will take place in Middelkerke on February 14.
"Never before I had so many wins. Also the Superprestige went great. Only in Franchorchamps I wasn’t able to win and in Diegem I was ill. In all other rounds I won," Cant said.
Van Loy seals Bpost Bank Trophy series title in Lille
Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) placed second in the final round of the Bpost Bank Trophy series in Lille on Saturday, 33 seconds behind the day’s winner Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), but it was all she needed to secure the series’ overall title.
"And I'm quite proud of it," Van Loy told Sport.be. "I think that final victory is well deserved. I worked hard for it and also had some setbacks. Before the start of the season I did not expect anything like that."
Van Loy opened the series with a fourth place at the GP Mario De Clercq in Ronse. She was then seventh at the Koppenbergcross in Oudenaarde, second at the Kwadro Flandriencross in Hamme and fourth at GP Hasselt. She went on to a series of third places in Essen, at Azencross in Loenhout and at the GP Sven Nys in Baal, and finished the series with a second place in Lille
In the end, she won the series with a 1:10 minutes ahead of Cant and 5:25 minutes on Dutch rider Sophie De Boer (Kalas-NNOF).
Bpost Bank Trophy series top 10 overall results - elite women
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||5:54:55|
|2||Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm - BKCP||0:01:10|
|3||Sophie De Boer (Ned) Kalas-NNOF Cycling Team||0:05:25|
|4||Helen Wyman (GBr) Konfa FFSA Factory Team||0:07:09|
|5||Jolien Verschueren (Bel) VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:10:31|
|6||Pavla Havlikova (Cze) VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:13:39|
|7||Nikki Harris (GBr) VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:15:04|
|8||Loes Sels (Bel) VZW Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:15:15|
|9||Githa Michiels (Bel)||0:22:16|
|10||Elle Anderson (USA) Kalas-NNOF Cycling Team||0:24:05|