Sparkassen Giro Preview: Armitstead hunts World Cup points

After a nearly two-month hiatus, the UCI women’s World Cup will resume with the seventh round at the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum, Germany, on Sunday.

Although defending champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) is listed on the preliminary start list, she recently announced that she will not race this season due to lingering injuries. In her absence, last year’s runner-up Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) and third placed Lotta Lepistö (Bigla) will likely try and snag the win, while World Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) intends to secure enough points to continue her top overall rank.

The women will complete eight laps of a 15.5km circuit for a total of 124km race. The circuit is mainly flat and fast, and although there is one small climb on course, it may not be challenging enough to split the field and a bunch kick could take place once again.

It is the second year running that the Sparkassen Giro has been a part of the World Cup. The series began this year in Belgium with the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe won by Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle-Honda) and moved to Italy at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Cittiglio won by Armitstead.

The series went back to Belgium where D’hoore’s teammate Elisa Longo Borghini won round three at the Tour of Flanders and Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) won round four at La Flèche Wallonne. Wiggle-Honda took their third series win during round five held on Chongming Island in China with sprinter Bonzini.

During the first five rounds, the World Cup lead passed between D’hoore, Armitstead and Van der Breggen, however, it currently rests on the shoulders of Armitstead, who won the sixth round at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic in June. She leads with 315 points, while Longo Borghini sits in second place with 296 and van der Breggen in third with 290, and both riders will be racing in Germany.

At the Sparkassen Giro, Boels-Dolmans will field a team in support of Armitstead, in the hopes of keeping her in the World Cup leader’s jersey, despite also fielding former winner Christine Majerus.

“The race will probably end in a bunch sprint. We hope Lizzie Armitstead will be ready to collect as many points as possible in the sprint to hold on to her jersey as World Cup leader. It would be great if that gets her on the podium… that should be possible,” said the team’s manager Danny Stam.

“I know Christine Majerus did well also in this race in the past – she won in 2013 – but we have to make a clear choice and that is to defend the leader’s jersey of Lizzie.

“It is not like we want to have a sprint, it would be better when a small group gets away with Lizzie in it, but I don’t think that will happen on the flat city circuit in Bochum.”

The sprint-friendly circuit will cater to the faster women in the field who will be targeting a World Cup victory at the Sparkassen Giro. Wiggle-Honda will field two candidates for the win including Bronzini and Jolien D’hoore, but they could end up working for Longo Borghini to move her up closer into the World Cup lead.

Other top sprinters include Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products), Shelley Olds (Ale Cipollini), Leah Kirchmann (Optum Pro Cycling), Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal), Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur), Velocio-SRAM will start world time trial champion Lisa Brennauer and Barbara Guarischi and Orica-AIS will support Thüringen Rundfahrt winner Emma Johansson.

There will be three more rounds of the World Cup, following the Sparkassen Giro, at the Crescent Women World Cup Vargarda team time trial and road race on August 21 and 23 in Sweden, and the GP de Plouay-Bretagne held on August 29 in France.


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