Elite Update - 2
Judith Arndt won in Montreal as predicted - ahead of Fabiana Luperini and Canada’s Leigh Hobson. Emma Pooley finished 8th and Rachel Heal was 34th of the 51 finishers. The best Australian was Sara Carrigan (4th), first of the Chinese competitors was Lang Meng (14th) but home nation, Canada, had 3 in the top 10.
In the World Cup, Arndt increased her lead over Marianne Vos (not in event) and Suzanne De Goede (29th). Looking to events coming up, the Grande Boucle starts in Ghent on 17-June and it should prove be one of the highlights of the womens road calendar.
As expected no one was able to reverse her 3 minute lead and so Susanne Ljungskog ran out victor in the Tour de l’Aude. Arndt won the final stage from Ljungskog, Cooke and Worrack - the same riders also making up the top four overall. Sharon Laws finished 6th on GC.
Tomorrow sees the World Cup move to Canada where 23 team are listed for the start in Montreal. And, with none of the other top four from l’Aude on the start sheet, Judith Arndt must have a good chance of increasing her lead in the World Cup standings. Emma Pooley (Specialized Designs) and Rachel Heal (TIBCO) are the sole GB riders since Halfords Bikehut / GB team are not contesting many races in the World Cup series. If this strategy helps or hinders GB’s Olympic medal chances is open to debate - but teams from both China and Australia have made the trip to Canada.
Tour de l’Aude - Part 2
Sharon Laws just failed to take a second stage for the GB team by loosing out to Australian Vicki Whitelaw. The break did move Laws up to 4th to place in the overall. But today a 10 woman break took almost 5 minutes out of the bunch. So now the GC has Laws 5th and Cooke 6th behind Susanne Ljungskog who retains a lead of over 3 minutes. Two stages remain.
Tour de l’Aude
Nicole Cooke took a stage in a sprint but Sweden’s Susanne Ljungskog won today’s stage alone by almost 3 minutes - so making her GC 3:39 lead over Judith Arndt look pretty conclusive. The British team has Cooke in 4th and Sharon Laws in 6th - after a great ride today - but it is Equipe Nurnberger that lead the team competition. Still another 5 stages to go - but Ljungskog has made it very hard for her challengers to get back.
Marianne Vos started with race number 1 - and went on to finished first. Twenty-five national and trade teams started - and some got to the finish before the heavy rain that soaked the following mens event. However the tough course made for plenty of retirements. The British riders switched from being Halfords-Bikehut to being the GB national team in order to include Emma Pooley but still had only five rather than six on the start list. However Emma did finish 6th - just ahead of Nicole Cooke (8th) and almost 1 minute ahead of Sharon Laws (31st). Alex Wrubleski of the Canadian national team had a great ride to finish 4th. Vos’s win means that she leads the World Cup standings - with Suzanne De Groede, Judith Arndt and Emma Pooley in the next three places. No L-B-L for the women so it’s south to the sun for the next big race - the Tour de l’Aude. [Update - forgot to include the Tour de Berne this coming Sunday 4-May! It’s in the World Cup but not on the earlier team plans]]
Nicole Cooke wears number one at Oudenaarde on Sunday in the Tour of Flanders (Start 10:55). The other five Halfords-Bikehut team members planned are - Emma Trott, Catherine Hare, Jessica Allen, Tanya Slater and Elizabeth Armitstead. But with a tough course and 28 other teams riding predicting the outcome won’t be easy. Nicole’s absence from most early season events mean that a repeat victory may be asking to much. Swift Racing will also be there, lead by Emma Davies, as will the US National squad lead by Lauren Franges. And World Cup leader Emma Pooley will head up Team Specialized Designs.
World Cup Solo Win
A Briton won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda for the third time in four years - but this time it was Emma Pooley for the multi-national Team Specialized Designs For Women squad rather than Nicole Cooke. And it was a great win - soloing to victory by over 1 minute after leaving her two breakaway companions from a move that started 25 miles from the finish.
The win means that Emma Pooley is now joint leader of the World Cup standings with Katheryn Curi Mattis (USA) and just 1 point ahead of Suzanne De Goede (NED). The next counting event, for both men and women, is the Tour of Flanders (6-Apr-08).
Halfords-Bikehut GB Team Plans
The team programme is still proving elusive - but Nicole Cooke’s web site has the following races provisionally scheduled -
24.03.08 Trofeo Alfredo Binda
06.04.08 Tour of Flanders
23.04.08 Flèche Wallonne
16.05.08 Tour de L'Aude (to 25.05)
18.06.08 La Grande Boucle Féminine
28.06.08 British Road Race Championship
24.09.08 World Championships
Meanwhile British riders based in Europe, Nikki Harris (Wielerclub De Sprinters Malderen) and Emma Silversides (Lotto Belisol Ladiesteam), were getting in some racing miles and finished in the peloton at Belgium’s Denderland Classic yesterday
Swift Racing Team Launch
The team used a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham to launch the 2008 team and racing programme. The major events planned are -
16.03.08 Het Volk
06.04.08 Tour of Flanders
23.04.08 Flèche Wallonne
27.04.08 Cheshire Classic (UK)
11.05.08 Olverston Road Race (UK)
16.05.08 Tour de L'Aude (to 25.05)
07.06.08 Omloop Humsterland
19.06.08 Ster Eilanden
02.07.08 GP Gerrie Knetemann
16.07.08 Tour of Brittany
01.08.08 World Cup Sweden TTT
03.08.08 World Cup Sweden
10.08.08 Holland Hills
24.08.08 GP Plouay
More details at the team website..
World Cup Opener
Judith Arndt has the honour of no. 1 for both the World Cup and the preceding Geelong Tour. A large contingent of Australians plan to start - with 5 local teams on the list. Team High Road have fielded a strong squad but will be up against national squads from the US, China and Australia as well their main Euro rivals. With no GB team the sole UK rep is Sharon Laws (Landlink ACTAS Cycling Team).
Update 25-Feb-2008: Austria’s Christiane Soeder (Cervelo-Lifeforce) won the Geelong Tour overall through a 36 second TT win in the opening stage. Oenone Wood and Ina Teutenberg took the other stages for Team High Road. In the World Cup, American Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders) beat Australia’s Emma Rickards (Cervelo-Lifeforce) in a two-up sprint.
Team High Road’s first Championship
Oenone Wood took the Australian Elite road title for the second time at Ballarat on Saturday in the new, mainly black, Team High Road colours. The Team High Road web site has the rosters for 2008 and lists 13 Elite Women. No team leader is nominated but Oenone Wood and Judith Arndt - world road champion in 2004 (right) - seem to be the likely contenders.
Slow News on 2008 Teams
Even though the Christmas and New Year breaks are already fading in the memory there seems to be little visible sign of activity amongst the teams supporting the Elite Women and the key events. The Geelong Tour / WWC Geelong web site still shows just the 2007 event details - even though the race start is only weeks away. The Geelong Tourist Office has some details but the Tour stages are still the 2007 versions. The UCI is no better and don’t seem to have a list of the 2008 teams available as yet. So info is limited to announcements spotted elsewhere.
The first news is about the Team Halfords-Bikehut launched in London yesterday with Julian Winn as director sportif and Dave Brailsford as manager. The team will consist of ten women riders plus two male riders; Rob Hayles and Tom Southam. Leading the women is Nicole Cooke and the team’s main objective is the Olympics; since the team is in effect a British national team with sponsorship. Press reports indicate that outside the UK - for example in the WWC events - the team will ride as Great Britain and possibly include other British riders. But without a race programme it is hard to second guess the actual team plans - but it may mean that Nicole will not be seen in events like the 2008 Giro.
Swift Racing is the 2008 name for the former Global Racing / Team FB UK organisation. Under the various sponsors it lays claim to being the “first Women's Professional Team from the UK”. As Swift Racing it “remains the UK number 1 team and has huge ambitions for the next 4 years leading up to London 2012”. Their season starts with a two-week training camp in the South of France at the end of February. Then its the early season classic races and the Tour de L’Aude; operating out of the team base in central Belgium. Team web site ...
British Cycling has been very effective in raising the standard of track racing but the road is a different - and bigger - challenge. Will the Team Halfords-Bikehut riders based in the UK have enough top level racing competition? Certainly not without a lot of traveling when you look at the calendar announced in Dec.
UCI Women’s Elite Road Calendar to March 2008
The World Cup (CDM) events in Geelong, Victoria and Cittiglio, Italy top the rankings - but the Het Volk in Belgium may be of more interest to UK supporters
06.01.2008 06.01.2008 Copa America de Ciclismo WE (BRA 1.2)
20.02.2008 22.02.2008 Geelong Tour (AUS 2.2)
24.02.2008 24.02.2008 Womens World Cup - Geelong (AUS CDM)
27.02.2008 02.03.2008 Women's Tour of New Zealand (NZL 2.2)
05.03.2008 05.03.2008 Grand Prix de Santa Ana (ESA 1.2)
07.03.2008 12.03.2008 Vuelta Ciclista Femenina a El Salvador (ESA 2.2)
08.03.2008 08.03.2008 Trophée International de la Femme (FRA 1.2)
09.03.2008 09.03.2008 GP Comune di Cornaredo (ITA 1.2)
14.03.2008 16.03.2008 Vuelta a Occidente (ESA 2.2)
16.03.2008 16.03.2008 Omloop Het Volk / Circuit Het Volk (BEL 1.2)
24.03.2008 24.03.2008 Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio (ITA CDM)
29.03.2008 30.03.2008 GP Cosat Etrusca-Giro dei comuni (ITA 1.2)
30.03.2008 30.03.2008 Klasyczny-Naleczow (POL 1.2)
Later in 2008
Looking through the events registered so far it looks like the UK will be lacking any women’s events again during 2008; surely a big disappointment after all the successes of Nicole Cooke over recent years. And the UK clearly trails Brazil, El Salvador and Poland for elite cycling promotions - but at least there should be some cheap flights / buses to Poland in March for the really dedicated British fans.