Ferrand-Prevot, Armitstead, Longo Borghini, D’hoore and Stevens to contest Flèche Wallonne World Cup
This year’s Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the fourth World Cup, will be absent of five-time winner Marianne Vos, leaving Rabo-Liv’s leadership role open for the defending champion and world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.
Last year, Ferrand-Prévot crossed the finish line at the top of the Mur de Huy one second ahead of Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) and four seconds ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda), who raced with Hitec Products at the time. Vos won the race from 2007-2009 and in 2011 and 2013, but last year she finished sixth at 13 seconds back. Vos has been recovering from a lingering hamstring injury.
This year’s starters once again include the top riders in the world with Armitstead fresh off a win at the World Cup in Cittiglio along with her teammate Evelyn Stevens, who won Flèche Wallonne in 2012. Longo Borghini, who recently won the Tour of Flanders, will also be on the start line along with her teammate and World Cup leader Jolien D’hoore.
Watch the recap of the 2014 Flèche Wallonne World Cup
Moolman-Pasio dreams of winning on the Mur de Huy
Bigla’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has finished in the top five at the Flèche Wallonne for the past three season but this year she is dreaming of taking that top step on the podium. The South African national champion believes the finale climb up the Mur de Huy is all about instinct and it’s the most important part of the race.
"Flèche is one of my most favourite races on the calendar,” Moolman-Pasio said. “Since I started racing professionally in Europe, I have always dreamt of winning on top of the Mur de Huy. I have finished in the top five for the past three years, so it certainly is a race with a finish that suits me well.
"The final climb up the Mur de Huy is definitely the deciding point of the race. Of course it is important to have a good run into the Mur; any energy wasted in the early parts of the race will cost you up the final climb of the Mur. So it's important to ride smart throughout the race and not to let anything potentially dangerous slip off the front in the latter half, but the Mur is the most important part of the race for sure.
"All you thinking about is the finish line, giving every last ounce of energy you have to climb as fast as you possibly can. The Mur is all about instinct. The less thoughts going through your mind, the better. It's all about focus and of course the crowds cheering you up gives that extra little push. The cheers literally do help to dull the pain."
Moolman-Pasio’s teammates will include Annemiek van Vleuten, Doris Schweizer, Iris Slappendel, Joëlle Numainville and Sharon Laws.
Velocio-SRAM’s Canuel puts emphasis on Côte de Cherave at Flèche Wallonne
Karol-Ann Canuel will join her Velocio-SRAM team at the upcoming World Cup in Belgium. The Canadian believes that while many riders will be focused on the finale Mur de Huy, the newly added Côte de Cherave will also play a key role in the outcome of the race.
This year’s edition will include nine climbs during the 121km route, three less than last year, but the Côte de Cherave, a 1.3-kilometre climb (average 8 per cent) is located 6km from the finish.
"The race may be all about the final climb of the Mur but every one of the nine climbs are important,” Canuel said. “People will focus on the final climb, but the run in to the last 10km this year is very different. Adding the Côte de Cherave just 6km from the finish will play a big role in the shape of the final and the eventual winner."
Canuel will be joined by recent Energiewacht Tour Lisa Brennauer, Tiffany Cromwell, Alena Amialiusik, Elise Delzenne and Tayler Wiles. "The team is riding really well and with each race everyone is focused on team work. I'm looking forward to seeing what we will do in the race on Wednesday.”
Ryan, Optum secure secure US national titles in Greenville
US-based teams and riders united over the weekend at the USA Cycling Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial Championships in Greenville, South Carolina, where Tibco-SVB rider Kendall Ryan and Optum Pro Cycling secured national titles in their respective events.
Ryan sprinted to the win for the women’s criterium title after defending champion Coryn Rivera’s UnitedHealthcare lead-out crashed coming out of the final corner. The accident took down several of the top sprinters, including Rivera and Erica Allar (Colavita-Bianchi). However, Ryan managed to squeeze through the carnage and sprint to the finish line first ahead of Tina Pic (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling) and Brianna Walle (Optum).
Walle’s success continued in the following day’s team time trial when Optum Pro Cycling won the title. Optum’s team also included Jasmin Glaesser, Amy Charity, Annie Ewart, Alison Tetrick and Leah Kirchmann.
“The weather was a little dreary and daunting at first, but we’ve had a lot of practice in various situations and conditions so we stayed calm and focused on racing our bikes as hard as possible,” Walle said after the race. “We trust each other pretty well from all of the training and the racing we have done so we weren’t thinking about the weather too much. All of the training and hard work we have completed in this discipline payed off today. It feels great to get a victory together in such a team-focused event and have everyone ride strongly to make it happen.”
Kirchmann, who won the Canadian road, time trial and criterium titles last year, ended up securing her fourth national title. Following the race, she wrote on Facebook, “We won the race! Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies are your 2015 American Team Time Trial National Champions! So proud of the team, we have put a lot of time and effort into riding this fast. And fun fact, I might be the first rider ever to hold four national championship titles in two countries.”
Rissveds and Pendrel dominate Sea Otter Classic mountain biking
Jenny Rissveds (Scott Odlo) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) were the winners of the Sea Otter Classic mountain biking events, with Rissveds taking the short track race and Pendrel, the current world champion, winning solo in the cross country event.
It was Rissveds’ first short track victory, beating Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) and Lea Davison (Specialized). Pendrel won the cross country race solo by 12 seconds ahead of Henderson and more than a minute to Rissveds. She finished the 55km, two-lap course in 2:21 hours.
National Racing Calendar resumes at Joe Martin Stage Race
The National Racing Calendar (NRC) will continue with the second round at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas from April 23-26. The race will embark on its 38th edition, 13th season on the NRC and its first year on the UCI America Tour, as a UCI ranked 2.2 event.
The race will begin with a 4.3km uphill time trial on Thursday, followed by a 102.4km road race on Friday and a 100km road race on Saturday. It concludes with a 50-minute criterium on Sunday.
Wiggle-Honda’s Mara Abbott is currently leading the NRC standings with 250 points after winning the overall title at Redlands Bicycle Classic. Runner-up Amber Neben (Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good) has 170 points and Allie Dragoo (Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air) is third with 144 points.
Alison Tetrick replaces Timmy Duggan on USA Cycling Board of Directors
Optum rider Alison Tetrick has taken the place of Timmy Duggan as the Professional Committee Athlete Representative to the USA Cycling Board of Directors following Duggan's resignation in February. Tetrick will represent athletes who are eligible to vote for Professional Committee athlete representatives.
Tetrick previously served as the Female Athlete Representative for the Professional Committee for three years. She also serves on the Board of Advisory for the Women's Cycling Association and works with Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer.
“Alison brings great personal qualities and unique athletic and advocacy experience to USA Cycling,” said USA Cycling Board Chairman Bob Stapleton. “She can help shape our athletic programs as well as our efforts to support and bring women into cycling, which is a vital part of USA Cycling going forward.”