It's been a huge day for women's racing, with hills in Italy, cobbles in Belgium and stage racing in the USA. Below the jump, I'll tell you how the races played out - and watch the comments for any videos, blogs and other information we find about the races
Trofeo Alfredo Binda - World Cup round 2
To start - a whole hour of highlights! Watch this first, if you don't want spoilers, and I'll tell you about how the race played out, below the jump - or check out the 3 min, no-commentary UCI highlights video.
Look to the comments for any more videos, blogs etc that we find about the race, and other women's cycling news
Unlike last year, it seemed like a lovely day in Varese - and again unlike previous years, it was a fairly calm race (despite, or maybe because of a big crash at km15). Early on in the race riders were dropped, and groups formed on the road, with attempts to attack, but not that stuck
Then, at the start of the third laps of the final circuit, GreenEdge-AIS rider Loes Gunnewijk attacked solo, and gained a gap on the peloton, her lead getting up to 1:41 at one point - but with all the big favourites behind her, making it to the end would be a tough proposition. She crossed the final mountains point on the penultimate lap first, but behind her, Marianne Vos (Rabobank) had made a move, and crossed ahead of Italian national champion Noemi Cantele (Be Pink), who was quick to chase. Vos was caught - as was Gunnewijk, and the last lap and a half were full of fireworks.
There were 11 riders in the front group at this point - with World Champions Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora-Pasta Zara) leading the chase behind THEM - and at the start of the final lap, Gunnewijk attacked again, this time with Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-Mistral Homes), Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabobank) and Kristin Armstrong (Team USA) - but they were soon caught, and riders were dropped from the front group, as others surged out of the chase and joined them. Throughout the last lap, Vos attacked again and again until she could finally get away on the last climb, with 10km to go. Vos was joined by Evelyn Stevens (Speciliazed-lululemon) but Stevens crashed out of contention on a corner on the slopes of the climb.
Vos passed over the top at Orino first, ten seconds ahead of Emma Pooley (AA Drink-Leontien.nl), Ferrand-Prévot and Cantele behind her, who were 22 seconds ahead of the next group. Pooley, Cantele and PFP were caught after the descent, but Vos is one of the best descenders out there, male or female, and was giving it everything, extending her lead as the final kilometres wound down.
Vos made the win look easy, her third win in this race, from three different circumstances. Afterwards she said (making me grin):
“From the top, we still had about ten kilometres to the finish and because I was not given any times by the motorcycle, I kept riding full speed to the finish”, said Vos. “At one point, when I couldn’t see anyone behind me anymore, I knew all was well.” It was already the third time she took the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. “I won in a bunch sprint and in a sprint à deux the previous two times, so to be arriving solo on this third occasion makes this win really special”.
Behind her, Guderzo had attacked early for the finish, and although the group was gaining hard on her - with the next big group gaining on them just as fast, she won the uphill sprint for second - with Bronzini bringing home the peloton behind the chase group.
Here's a finish-line video from Davide Ronconi, of a very happy Vos!
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 3:16:28
2. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 00:34
3. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
4. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
5. Emma Johansson (Swe) Hitec Products-Mistral Home, s.t.
6. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink, s.t.
7. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra) Rabobank, s.t.
8. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
9. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Vienne Futuroscope, s.t.
10. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) Lotto Belisol, + 00:37
11. Alena Amialyusik (Slo) Be Pink, s.t.
12. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Diadora Pasta Zara, + 00:41
13. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
14. Nicole Cooke (GBr) Faren-Honda, s.t.
15. Martine Bras (Ned) Dolmans-Boels, s.t.
16. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-1t4i, s.t.
17. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
18. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Hitec Products-Mistral Home, s.t.
19. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
20. Christine Majerus (Lux) GSD Gestion, s.t.
Thoughts go out to all the riders injured in the race - especially AA Drink-Leontien.nl's Shelley Olds, who broke her wrist
While the World Cup hopefuls were in Italy, there were plenty of sprinters and cobbles-lovers over in Belgium. The biggest teams of the day were always going to be AA Drink-Leontien.nl, with Kirsten Wild and Lizzie Armitstead leading the team, and Rabobank, who were fielding Liesbet de Vocht and Iris Slappendel, both riders with excellent Classics pedigrees.
The race started hard, and by 30km, riders were already dropping off. They seem to have used the wind to echelon the peloton into groups, with the front group moving between 30 and 50 riders.... until they hit the climbs. At around 67km, on the second climb, the Baneberg, Armitstead attacked, with only De Vocht following, and after the descent, the pair had 20 seconds on the chase, climbing to 40... and then Armitstead dropped De Vocht on the Kemmelberg, and headed on alone.
Behind her, De Vocht was soon caught by Hitec Product-Mistral Homes' Lise Nøstvold, Slappendel, and Armitstead's team-mates Kirsten Wild and Jessie Daams. It seems as though it was a tough group - the two AAs riding to keep the distance from the group of 18 behind them, but of course not doing anything to contribute to the chase - allowing Armitstead's gap to rise from 40secs at 93km to 1:29 at 101km, 5km to the finish-line.
At 2km to go, it was clear Armitstead would win the race, and behind her, the race for second was on. Nøstvold, Slappendel and Daams had dropped the others, and it was the Rabobank rider who took second place, with Daams in third - the podium made up of riders who were former team-mates on Garmin-Cervélo last year!
1. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, 2:49:46
2. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 0:51
3. Jessie Daams (Bel) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
4. Lise Nøstvold (Nor) Hitec Products-Mistral Home, s.t.
5. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 0:55
6. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-1t4i,
7. Sarah Düster (Ger) Rabobank,
8. Anouska Koster (Ned) Dolmans-Boels,
9. Janneke Ensing (Ned) Dolmans-Boels,
10. Lucy Martin (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl,
Lizzie Armitstead had a tough choice, when she decided to drop her Olympic ambitions on the track, and focus on the road, but it's paying off beautifully - she seems to be loving the cobbles, with this, her win at Tielt-Winge and her third place in the Novilon Euregiocup. I always knew she could sprint and break away, but this year she's stepped up again! And AA Drink-Leontien.nl stepping in to save the riders left in the lurch by Garmin has proved a superb move - with Lizzie out ahead, and two strong riders in the chase group, it looked like it would always be a successful day for them today! It's nice, also, to see Iris Slappendel back on the podium, where she belongs, after a serious of injuries last year messed up her season.
Thank you to everyone for your messages! Solo for 40k was not the plan! As always couldn't have done it without the
Over in the USA, it was time for the final stage of Redlands. With an ITT, road race that ended in bunch sprint and crit stage, this was the final chance for riders to gain any extra time.
Megan Guarnier of Tibco-To The Top had lead the GC since she won the opening ITT - 6 seconds over Amber Neben of Specialized-lululemon and 9 ahead of Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis). Her team made sure she was safe in the subsequent stages - she extended her lead with intermediate sprint bonifications in Stage 1, where Australian Loren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon) won her first race on US soil, just ahead of Canadian Joëlle Numainville (Optum-Kelly Benefits); and again in the Stage 2 crit, where despite chaos caused by a big crash in the final lap, Numainville took her revenge, sprinting for the win over Guarnier and Rowney. Powers had edged ahead of Neben with her intermediate sprint points, but Guarnier had extended her GC lead to 14 seconds, as they headed into the final stage.
Alison Powers started well, taking Queen of the Mountains points the took her closer to Guarnier, and the race was soon divided into groups, with all the favourites safely at the front. Despite all kinds of attacks, including a big one from Denise Ramsden (Optum), Guarnier and her Tibco team kept it all under control, chasing everything down, until at 3km to go, the peloton was all together - and although Powers won the stage, ahead of Numainville and Rowney again, and gained a another handful of bonifications, Guarnier finished at the same time, clinching the overall win! Powers stayed in second, and Numainville, who also won the Sprint jersey, scored enough intermediate points to move into third on GC.
1. Alison Powers (USA) NOW and Novartis, 3:10:11
2. Joëlle Numainville (Can) Optum/Kelly, s.t.
3. Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
4. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum/Kelly, s.t.
5. Megan Guarnier (USA) Tibco-To The Top, s.t.
Final General Classification
1. Megan Guarnier (USA) Tibco-To The Top, 7:25:04
2. Alison Powers (USA) NOW and Novartis, + 00:03
3. Joëlle Numainville (Can) Optum/Kelly, + 00:12
4. Amber Neben (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:18
5. Kathryn Donovan (USA) FCS-Rouse, + 00:28
6. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum/Kelly, + 00:29
7. Andrea Dvorak (USA) Exergy Twenty 12, s.t.
8. Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:31
9. Kristin McGrath (USA) Exergy Twenty 12, s.t.
10. Lindsay Myers (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 00:40
Congratulations especially to Powers - last year at Redlands she crashed hard, breaking her arm, and for a while, thought her cycling career was over - so it's great to see that not only is she back, but winning! Read her blog to see her thoughts about it - it's SO good she's on top again!
Up next for the women - more cobbles! Round 3 of the World cup, Ronde van Vlaanderen, next Sunday, and then the 1.2 ranked GP Dottignies on Monday. Yes, it's definitely the Classics season!