Welcome to Cyclingnews' round-up of highlights from the international women’s cycling scene.
Gilmore believes Hosking can win Ladies Tour of Qatar for Wiggle-Honda
Wiggle-Honda’s manager Rochelle Gilmore believes that her new signing Chloe Hosking will bring the team the overall win they are aiming for at the upcoming UCI 2.1 Ladies Tour of Qatar, which started on Tuesday with stage 1 from Museaum of Islamic Art - Dukhan Beach.
“Qatar is a race that really excites Chloe and she will be starting with a stronger team than ever before,” Gilmore told Cyclingnews. “My opinion is that Chloe could win this year with dedicated support. I believe she is up for the challenge, and as a manager, I’m ready to give her 100 per cent support.”
Hosking will have a strong team that includes Giorgia Bronzini, Elisa Long Borghini, Audrey Cordon, Emilia Fahlin and Jolien D’hoore.
She was third overall last year, while racing for Hitec Products, behind Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters. She has shown strong early season form with an overall win at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, and good teamwork, at the Santos Women’s Tour, after helping her teammates Bronzini to a stage win and Annette Edmondson to win the overall sprint classification.
“Chloe gave so much of herself to her teammates in Australia and deserves support in Qatar, she is right on good form,” Gilmore said. “I’ve been impressed with the form and attitude Chloe has bought into our team so far.”
Kirchmann to start season with Optum Pro Cycling in Qatar
Canadian road, time trial and criterium champion, Leah Kirchmann, will begin her season at the Ladies Tour of Qatar with her US-based women’s team Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies. The four-day race held from February 3-6 is made for sprinters, and despite arriving directly from the harsh northern winter, Kirchmann says she’s up for the challenge.
“The whole team is excited and honoured to be invited to race in Qatar, it’s the first time visiting the Middle-East for most of us,” Kirchmann told Cyclingnews. “The team is looking to mix it up in the sprints, and we are aiming to get on the podium. There is a very fast field of women competing, so the race will be both a good test of early season fitness, and a great chance for us to dial in our lead out.”
Kirchmann will lead a six-woman team that also includes Annie Ewart, Janel Holcomb, Maura Kinsella, Alison Tetrick and Brianna Walle.
Rabo Liv secure gold and bronze medals at cyclo-cross Worlds
Rabo Liv Women Cycling had an outstanding presence at the recent UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic on Saturday. The team’s new road world champion, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, earned a second world title in the elite women’s cyclo-cross race, while former seven-time ‘cross world champion from the Netherlands, Marianne Vos, took home the bronze medal.
Ferrand-Prévot secured the cyclo-cross world title after winning a two-up sprint against Belgian champion Sanne Cant. “Incroyable! Merci à tous!!!!!” she posted on Twitter directly following her victory.
"I tried as much as possible to hold my own line and had to stay in the lead in the final round. That was the only way to prevent an attack from Sanne. In the last few hundred meters, I gave full throttle. Gold! Again. Yes, that creates emotions,” she said.
Vos went into the race with a hamstring injury that had been causing her problems since the Dutch cyclo-cross championships. Despite her injury, she rode her way into a bronze medal.
Vos also lost her road world title to Ferrand-Prevot in Ponferrada, Spain, last September. "If someone else was going to win, I prefer it to be Pauline. It's nice to work with her," Vos said of her Rabo Liv teammate. "Pauline now has both of the rainbow jerseys, and I can look at their beauty all year.”
Harris pleased with fourth-place finish in Tabor
Great Britain’s Nikki Harris just missed out on the podium at the cyclo-cross Worlds in Tabor, finishing fourth place behind winner Ferrand-Prevot, silver medallist Cant and bronze medallist Vos.
“A few years ago I could only dream of racing at the front in the world championships like I did today…,” she wrote on Instagram.
Harris spent much of the race fighting to stay with the lead group, which included the three medal winners along with Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) and Lucie Chainel-Lefèvre (France). The group officially broke apart on the final lap. Harris’ teammate Helen Wyman was seventh on the day.
Trott signs with Matrix Fitness for 2015
British road champion Laura Trott has signed a contract to race with the UCI elite women’s team Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling during the 2015 season. The move from Wiggle-Honda to Matrix Fitness will allow her to better-pursue her goals of competing on the track while still being able to race on the road.
Trott is a four-time world champion in the Team Pursuit, former world champion in the Omnium, the reigning Olympic and European champion in the Team Pursuit and the Omnium, and she is also the current British national road champion, a title she aims to defend at the National Championships in Lincolnshire in June.
Stefen Wyman, director of Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling, told Cyclingnews that Trott is focussed on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and that this year was planned to give her the best opportunities on the road, while also ensuring nothing detracts from her preparation for Rio.
“Laura spoke to us towards the end of last season to see if there was any interest there, and it wasn’t a difficult decision from my point of view,” Wyman said. “She’s an exceptional talent, we had a very similar vision for the next two years, and we both felt it would be a good move for Laura. That meant things moved quickly and we’re looking forward to seeing Laura in the upcoming tack World Championships, and her first road events in April. She is taking her road season seriously, and we’ll do all we can to help her defend her title.”
Trott will be competing next at the UCI Track World Championships held from February 18-22 in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France.
IOC awards Mulholland and Galpin for contributions to cycling
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded one of the six 2014 Women and Sport trophies to Australian Sian Mulholland and the Achievement Diploma to American Shannon Galpin for their contribution to cycling at the 127th IOC Session in Monaco in December.
“I am extremely proud of these two women for their outstanding contribution to the participation of women and girls in cycling and for advocating greater opportunities for women to ride bikes and compete,” said UCI President Brian Cookson.
Mulholland, who earned the Oceania trophy, paved the way for women in track cycling and played a crucial role in developing cycling opportunities for women in Australia. She currently manages the Australian National Road Series women’s team.
“I think women’s cycling is in much better shape these days but so much still needs to be done. More events, more publicity, more introductory programmes to get women involved in cycling generally – the more who ride, the greater the numbers likely to move across into racing,” Mulholland said in a report on the UCI website.
“Working towards equal prize money is a hugely important part of recognition. It is time for promoters to take the initiative and try to attract more women to events with decent reward, rather than demanding that sufficient women be willing to ride for negative return before they will come to the party on prize money.”
Galpin received the Achievement Diploma for her dedication to women’s rights and empowerment in conflict zones. In 2013, she created the Strength in Numbers program, which empowers women through cycling and mountain biking.
Inaugural women’s Strade Bianche to include five gravel sectors
RCS Sport announced in January that it has will host a UCI 1.1 elite women’s race along side the ninth edition of the men’s UCI 1.HC Strade Bianche, which will take place on March 7 in Italy.
The 103km women’s race will start in San Gimignano and finish in Siena’s Piazza Il Campo. The first 33km and the last 20km will be held on the same roads as the men’s 200km route, and there will be a total of 17km of white gravel roads, divided into five sectors, three of which are the same as the men’s gravel sectors.
In a presentation held at the press conference in Piazza Il Camp in Siena, RCS Sport Cycling Director Mauro Vegni stated, “We are very proud to be able to announce the birth of Strade Bianche Women, which is going to enrich a movement in continuous development and show how RCS Sport continues to invest in the cycling world.”
UCI to host first Women’s Teams Seminar in March
Following on the heels of the UCI Women Road World Cup seminar held in Montreux, Switzerland in December, the UCI has announced that it will host an inaugural Women’s Teams Seminar, which will be held the day after the new women’s Strade Bianche on March 8 (International Women’s Day) in Siena, Italy. The sport’s governing body will invite all 38 UCI-registered elite women’s teams to participate.
On the agenda will be discussions about extending the women’s series and professionalizing women’s road teams, but in order to gain a better understanding of what needs to happen, the UCI is putting together Women’s Teams Working Groups in advance of the seminar to help define priorities and create a timeline of objectives.
“The seminar will give us a chance to outline the role of the working group, share what is planned and receive feedback. It will also be an opportunity for everyone to have their say,” said UCI Women’s Cycling Coordinator Andrea Marcellini.
New women’s mountain bike team in South Africa
Ascendis Health officially launched a professional women’s mountain bike team in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lange Sports will own and manage the team, which has signed South African marathon champion Robyn de Groot and Swedish marathon champion Jennie Stenerhag.
“The focus on women’s professional bicycle racing is growing globally and South Africa is a leading nation when it comes to mountain bike racing. It made sense for us to use our experience at building professional bicycle racing teams to launch a women-only team for 2015,” said Malcolm Lange of Lange Sports.
“We’re excited to have Jennie and Robyn, both great ambassadors and athletes, helping grow awareness of the Ascendis Health brands through high value mountain bike racing platform.”
The riders have already started the season with De Groot finishing second and Stenerhag third at the Fairview Attakwas Extreme Mountain Bike Challenge held in Oudtshoorn. They will focus on Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series, which includes two International Cycling Union (UCI) graded races, and UCI-ranked ABSA Cape Epic and the Cape Pioneer Trek.
Stan’s NoTubes signs Grant and Shields for 2015 mountain bike season
US-based Stan’s NoTubes elite women’s mountain bike team announced that they have signed two new riders this year; US mountain bike marathon national champion Rose Grant and development rider Emily Shields.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Rose to the team and to have the opportunity to mentor Emily and see her develop into a top racer,” said team manager Sarah Kaufmann.
“The Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team is a leading domestic women’s cycling team, and in 2015, we will continue inspiring and getting more women on bikes. To that end, we will be participating in a variety of races across the country and the world, and we’ll be leading ladies’ riding clinics at many of the races which we attend. NoTubes’ commitment to women’s racing is a perfect fit for our team, and we’re grateful for their continued support. We love their products, their people and their mission.”
There are eight returning riders that include Vicki Barclay, Nina Baum, Mical Dyck, Shannon Gibson , Sue Haywood, Sarah Kaufmann, Kathy Sherwin and Jennifer Smith.
The team noted in a press release that they are under new management, Femme First Racing, LLC. They will focus on elite mountain bike cross country, endurance and stage races, but their riders will also make appearances in select enduro mountain bike races. They will target races that promote and value women’s cycling.
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