Blaak returns to defend title at Crescent Women World Cup Vårgårda

A world-class field is expected to participate in the eighth and ninth rounds of the UCI Women’s World Cup at the Crescent Women World Cup Vårgårda TTT and Road Race held on August 21 and 23 in Sweden.

Despite recently announcing that the team would fold at the end of the 2015 season, Velocio-SRAM will take the start line in the team time trial as the four-time defending champions (as HTC-HighRoad in 2011 and Specialized-Lululemon from 2012 to 2014), and they intend to defend that title again.

On Friday, 15 teams will contest at 42.5km team time trial between Vårgårda and Herrljunga, where crosswinds typically play a factor in the race. Last year’s team time trial saw Specialized-Lululemon (now Velocio-SRAM) secure their fourth victory ahead of Rabo-Liv and Boels-Dolmans.

On Sunday, with the addition of two national teams, 17 teams will take the start line of the 133.5km road race. Race organisers have altered this year’s parcour to include a longer lap of about 56.5km, of which 2.5km is gravel, and the race will finish with seven laps of an 11km circuit.

Velocio-SRAM have registered a tough-to-beat team time trial squad that includes world time trial champion Lisa Brennauer, Trixi Worrack, Karol-Ann Canuel, Alena Amialiusik, Elise Delzenne, Tayler Wiles, Barbara Guarischi, winner of the Sparkassen Giro World Cup, Mieke Kroeger and Tiffany Cromwell, of which six riders will start. The team has spent time preparing on the team time trial course several days ahead of the race.

Although they won the road race as well last year with Chantal Blaak, this year the Dutch rider will look to defend her title while wearing the Boels-Dolmans outfit. The team will also field World-Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead, Ellen Van Dijk, Evelyn Stevens, who was also a member of the winning Specialized-Lululemon team last year, and US road champion Megan Guarnier, who is fresh off of an overall victory at the Ladies Tour of Norway. In Norway, the team also secured the mountain and young rider classifications, and the overall team title, giving them good morale heading into the double World Cup round.

“It was really good to see the team secured two other jerseys and the team classification. It gives us confidence towards the World Cup races in Vargarda and the other races that are waiting for us in August and September,” said team manager Danny Stam.

Armitstead, who won the rounds in Cittiglio and Philadelphia, currently leads the World Cup with 335 points with Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) in second with 296 and Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) in third with 290.

Rabo-Liv will also field a top team led by overall winner of the Giro Rosa and winner La Flèche Wallonne Anna van der Breggen, and Lucinda Brand, both who have recently re-signed with the Dutch team for next season after their strong performances this year.

Orica-AIS’ roster includes Sweden’s time trial and road champion Emma Johansson, Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt, who was recently third overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway. And Hitec Products’ team will include Charlotte Becker, Emile Moberg and Cecilie Johnsen, and sprint-ace Kirsten Wild will join the team for the road race.

Wiggle-Honda will roll out with the likes of Ronde van Drenthe winner Jolien D’hoore, Chongming Island winner Giorgia Bronzini and Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini, who is in top form having recently won the overall title at La Route de France.

La Route de France stage winner, Amy Pieters, will lead Liv-Plantur’s squad as she attempts to take the top step of the podium in the road race, having been on the second and third during the last two editions.

“For the road race the team will be led by Amy Pieters, and she has already shown that the race suits her very well, so we will protect her for the finale. Julia [Soek] is our reliable support rider, who will help Amy reach the finale as fresh as possible. With this team we are confident that we can compete for the victory on Sunday.”

Tibco-SVB will be sending a team from the US that includes National Racing Calendar (NRC) winner Lauren Stephens, who place third overall at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen, and US criterium champion Kendall Ryan.

US sprinter Shelley Olds will join Ale-Cipollini fresh off of two stage wins, the warm-up criterium and stage 2, and second overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway. While her compatriot Carmen Small will lead the Bigla squad alongside Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Lotta Lepistö.

Following the Vårgårda team time trial and road race this weekend, the UCI Women’s World Cup will conclude with the 10th round at the GP de Plouay Bretagne on August 29 in France.




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