EnergieWacht Tour 2012: How the race was won


We've seen a couple of stage races for the women so far - the "pre-season" Tour of New Zeland and the Redlands Bicycle Classic in the USA - but I'd argue EnergieWacht Tour is the start of the international stage racing season. Yes, there were key teams missing (Emma Johansson's Hitec Products-Mistal Homes and Giorgia Bronzini's Diadora-Pasta Zara) - but this gives us a great preview of what we've learned about how women's stage racing will look this year - and newsflash - it's going to be exciting! The four big teams - AA Drink-Leontien.nl, GreenEdge-AIS, Rabobank and Speclialized-lululemon - seem very evenly matched, and the question from the early Classics season, "Can anyone beat Marianne Vos?" has been answered!

EnergieWacht Tour is one of the most satisfying races to follow, with a fantastic race website and twitter, TV coverage from two different Dutch stations, and apparently fantastic wifi, for a plethora of rider blogs. I'll tell you all about how the race unfolded - and with every stage, there are at least two kinds of video - the short RTV news videos embedded, and the links to the longer RTL XL pieces, with interviews in English after pretty much all the stages. I recommend them all!

I told you about the course and the likely protagonists in my race preview, but this race is all about Dutch-style sprinting, with plenty of wind, cobbles and killer tactics - if riders weren't in the right place at the right time, they missed out on all the key moves, and while they still lived to fight for stage glory, General Classification hopes were scuppered. Add to that the intermediate sprint points, and you'll see that although this is a flat race, it's anything but boring. So, what happened?

Star-divide

Stage 1: 15km ITT

12-minute video from RTL XL - check out how cold all the riders were before the start! It was a freezing week for them all. And this short tv clip from local news:

The ITT, unsurprisingly, was dominated by the specialists - and look at the calibre of the Top Ten!

1. Kristin Armstrong (USA) USA National Team, 00:19:42
2. Clara Hughes (Can) Canadian National Team, + 00:10
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:13
4. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:25
5. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:27
6. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:45
7. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:51
8. Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:53
9. Rhae-Christie Shaw (Can) Canadian National Team, + 00:56
10. Alexis Rhodes (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:58

The biggest story were the two riders returning to the international peloton - Kristin Armstrong after having a baby, and Clara Hughes after dominating speed-skating. Hughes has been blogging on her return to racing, and I love her enthusiasm for the sport. Have a look at her blog just before the race started - I especially liked the final paragraphs:

Yes, this is summer camp for adults. We’re doing our best to act as juvenile as possible but the elder stateswomen of the peleton like Ina and me, well, we can’t help but talk about the fact that communal living won’t be topping the list of things we miss about bike racing when it’s all said and done. I actually don’t have anything to complain about because it’s been over a decade since I’ve been in this situation.

And I can’t say I mind it too much. The sport has come a long way since a decade ago. With races like this on the calendar and the enthusiasm from everyone involved, I’m okay with summer camping.

Ina and I joke that when we’re old ladies, we can look back and laugh about these times. Until then, I just feel pretty lucky to be racing my bike. Summer camp and all.

The first message from the Tour? Look out for the ITTs this year! Olympics and Worlds will be hard-fought!

Full results - and Photos of the stage from Sportfoto.nl

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Stage 2 - 107.3km

12-minute RTL XL video, with interviews in English with Kristin Armstrong before and after the stage and Clara Hughes and Ina-Yoko Teutneberg - and also:

Day 2 started with the peloton being held up behind a level-crossing, which can't have been fun in the cold! The pace was kept high, with Rabobank doing a lot of work, as Marianne Vos demonstrated that although she was too sick to ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen, she was back and here to win, taking the intermediate sprints.

Although various groups and riders had tried to escape from the pack, it wasn't until the end of the penultimate lap that a group could stay away. And what a group! 22 riders including four each from Specialized-lululemon and Rabobank, three each from AA Drink, GreenEdge and Skil-Argos - but neither of the top 2 in the GC, Kristin Armstrong and Clara Hughes. Armstrong's Team USA tried hard to pull the group back, but with that group working together, they really had no chance. The front group finished 03:44 ahead of the chasers - and coming down to a bunch sprint, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg showed that although it she's started her season late this year, she's still the queen of sprinting, making the win look easy!

1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 02:35:50
2. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
4. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-Argos, s.t.
5. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
6. Laura van der Kamp (Ned) Dolmans-Boels, s.t.
7. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
8. Romy Kasper (Ger) RusVelo, s.t.
9. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
10. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.

Full results - and stage photos from sportfoto.nl

Vos' intermediate sprints and stage placings took her into the lead for the GC - but with Specialized-lululemon and GreenEdge looking in very strong positions to challenge her...

GC after Stage 2

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 02:55:35
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:22
3. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:30
4. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:47
5. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:59
6. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 01:04
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, + 01:12
8. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:18
9. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 01:23
10. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:29

Star-divide

Stage 3 - 110km

12 minute video from RTL XL - with videos in English at various points - no news video, unfortunately! So check out the Stage 3 photos from Sportfoto.nl

Day 3 was six laps around a lake - and it started with something no one expected from this race - sunshine! Before the stage, Teutenberg blogged that she'd broken her record for the number of clothes worn on a stage, and

Turns out the forecast might be wrong as we woke up to blue sky and it is still sunny out there which means we probably be lucky again and not get wet….we would end up with ice on our frame if it will get rain at some point this week.

The riders who missed the break on Stage 2 had got the message, and there were attacks from the start, although they were neutralised in time for Vos to take the early sprint points - then a break of about twenty riders, including Annemiek van Vleuten & Iris Slappendel (Rabo), Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon), Shara Gillow (GreenEdge) - but they were caught, and Vos took more points... and then something you hardly ever see - a break group that got away with some serious threats like Kirsten Wild, Chantal Blaak & Lizzie Armitstead (AA Drink), Judith Arndt (GreenEdge) - but not a single Rabobank rider, and none of the big Specialized-lululemon GC threats! Marianne Vos was on the front, pulling back the break, and Rabo got in some practice for the next day's Team Time Trial, chasing like crazy.

The break tried their best, but were caught - and Specialized took their turn on the front, with a huge pull from Ellen van Dijk stretched out the peloton, and trains started to form on both sides of the road - but once again, Teutenberg took the bunch sprint, in beautiful style!

Stage 3 results

1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 2:41:09
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
3. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
4. Laura van der Kamp (Ned) Dolmans-Boels, s.t.
5. Evelyn Arys (Bel) Kleo Ladies Team, s.t.
6. Romy Kasper (Ger) RusVelo, s.t.
7. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Canada, s.t.
8. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-Argos, s.t.
9. Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Faren-Honda, s.t.
10. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers, s.t.

The day had been a bit crazy, with various cobbled sections on each lap, which caused all kinds of crashes - and if you watch the video, you'll see some fantastic bike-handling skills from AA Drink's Jessie Daams, as she swerved to avoid a rider going down right in front of her. Team USA lost three riders to crashes - Kristin McGrath and Carmen McNellis Small who DNFed, and Tayler Wiles, who finished, but couldn't start the next day - and I hope all the riders hurt are all ok by now.

The bunch sprint ending meant that although some of the riders lost time, and others gained it with bonifications, there were no major changes - except that Vos extended her lead, and Teutenberg stepped ahead of her team-mate Van Dijk.

GC after Stage 3

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 5:36:32
2. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:32
3. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:33
4. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:57
5. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS, + 01:11
6. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 01:16
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, + 01:22
8. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:26
9. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 01:35
10. Rowena Fry (Aus) GreenEdge-AIS, + 01:42

Star-divide

Day Four was the double-stage day - and you can read Teutenberg's blog on what double stages are like to race, including:

One thing about double days is that the stages are short and from the outside it might seem that those should be easy. Unluckily the short ones are the hardest as everybody knows they’re over quickly and they look for their chances. It will be even more fast and furious than the last couple of days and changes in the General Classification might happen.

Which might give you an idea of what happened in the morning stage!

Stage 4a - 76km

Video from RTL XL - this time it's 23 minutes long, looking at this stage, and a story-so-far, with some behind-the-scenes footage of what it's like for riders on the Tour and more interviews in English, including one with Clara Hughes on the Olympics and speed skating. Or the short version of today's stage:

The experienced riders were ready for this, and a group of eleven attacked early, taking advantage of the wind on the flat, open parcours - Marianne Vos & Iris Slappendel (Rabobank), Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Ellen van Dijk & Trixi Worrack (Speclialized), Kirsten Wild & Chantal Blaak (AA Drink), Judith Arndt & Loes Gunnewijk (GreenEdge), last year's winner Adrie Visser (Skil-Argos) and Romy Kasper (RusVelo) who had a fantastic race this year. Behind them, the race was all small groups - but with all the big teams represented in the break, and their team-mates frustrating the chase behind them, there was no chance of a catch.

In the last 5-10 kilometres, the front group, having made sure of their lead, turned their attention to attacking each other, with Loes Gunnewijk (GreenEdge) in particular making a trademark attack with a few km to go - but the only one who was successful was Kirsten Wild (AA Drink), who solo-ed home for her first European win of the season. Teutenberg won the bunch sprint for second - and Belgian Champion Evelyn Arys won the sprint from the first chasing group, coming in 12th.

Stage 4a results - and photos from Sportfoto.nl

1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, 01:42:25
2. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:07
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
4. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
5. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
6. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-Argos, s.t.
7. Romy Kasper (Ger) RisVelo, s.t.
8. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
9. Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
10. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
11. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:11

With the top 11 made up from the break-riders, it was no surprise that the GC changed....

GC after Stage 4

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 7:18:59
2. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:31
3. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:38
4. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 01:01
5. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:18
6. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 01:21
7. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 01:46
8. Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:58
9. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-Argos, + 02:14
10. Romy Kasper (Ger) RusVelo, + 02:46

Star-divide

The riders had a brief rest, and then on to the evening's activity - the Team Time Trial.

Stage 4b - 26.5km TTT

No news video, but check out the RTL XL video - another 23-minute video, with some 'backstage' shots and lots of little rider interviews, before moving to the final stage - but you can stop at 13:54 before you see that, if you want! Here's a home-made TTT video, if you want more!


This was always going to be one of the decisive stages, long enough to make a difference to the GC. The fourth rider across the line counted for the team's time - you'll see smaller teams than that starting, and their times counted towards GC, but not to the stage results, including Team USA, who were down to just Kristin Armstrong and Andre Dvorak after the various crashes of the race.

With the various changes to the peloton this year, this was the first chance to see how they are riding together. Specialized-lululemon were not too changed from the dominant HTC-Highroad of last year - and with three national ITT champions in Evelyn Stevens, Emilia Fahlin and Clara Hughes, they won the prize for most jerseys! But GreenEdge-AIS had two national champs of their own - Judith Arndt and Shara Gillow, Rabobank had one in Marianne Vos, and AA Drink-Leontien.nl also had a strong line-up, with a lot of the riders from the old Cervélo Test Team's all-conquering squad. It was a great race, and important in giving us an idea of what to expect from the Open de Suède Vårgårda World Cup and the World Championships trade team TTT later in the year...

Ultimately, it was Specialized who won, putting in a beautiful performance, and winning by an amazing 40 seconds.

1. Specialized-Lululemon, 0:35:51.89
2. GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:39.34
3. Rabobank, + 01:13.35
4. AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 01:46.89
5. RusVelo, + 02:01.02
6. Canada, + 02:17.29
7. Australia, + 03:02.59
8. Dolmans-Boels, + 03:22.99
9. Skil Argos, + 03:40.83
10. Tibco To The Top, + 03:41.34

GreenEdge was also impressive - but Rabobank surprised, by finishing with all six riders - we're still not sure if it was a plan, but it seems strange to do that, rather than burn riders off to try to keep as much time as possible for Vos' GC, given how strong the other teams were. And as a result, there was the biggest GC change of the race, and proof that Vos is, in fact, human!

TTT photos from sportfoto.nl

GC after stage 4b

1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 7:55:21
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:07
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:43
4. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:50
5. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 01:10
6. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 02:29
7. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 02:34
8. Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 03:14
9. Romy Kasper (Ger) RusVelo, + 04:16
10. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 04:34

Star-divide

Stage 5 - 103.2km

Stage 5 starts at 13:55 on this RTL XL video and is 12 mins - and here's the short video of Stages 4b and 5 combined:


The final stage was another sunny one, and with Rabobank wanting to take back the GC and Specialized-lululemon wanting to keep it - not to mention all the other teams and riders wanting to grab some last-minute glory, it was always going to be fun. Specialized did a textbook job of Vos-frustrating, while Skil-Argos rode well to ensure they kept the Best Young Rider jersey for Amy Pieters.

When a group got away with no GC threats, they benefited from the race politics behind them - the biggest 'names' were former World and Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke (Faren-Honda) and sprinter Sarah Düster (Rabobank) with Megan Guarnier & Jennifer Wheeler (Tibco -To The Top), Marieke van Wanroij (AA Drink), Evelyn Arys (Kelo), Josien Van Wingerden (Specilized DRD SRAM) and Chloe McConville (Australia).

The group kept their pace high, and managed to make it all the way to the end - and Nicole Cooke showed she still has it, starting her sprint early and making her first win of the season look easy. Arys and Düster completed the podium, and behind them, Pieters (Skil Argos) ensured the BYR jersey was hers, winning the bunch sprint.

1. Nicole Cooke (GBr) Faren Honda, 3:27:05
2. Evelyn Arys (Bel) Belgium, + 00:02
3. Sarah Düster (Ger) Rabobank, s.t.
4. Megan Guarnier (USA) Tibco To the Top, s.t.
5. Marieke van Wanroij (Ned) AA Drink – Leontien.nl, s.t.
6. Josien van Wingerden (Ned) Specialized-DPD-SRAM, + 00:04
7. Jennifer Wheeler (USA) Tibco To the Top, s.t.
8. Chloe McConville (Aus) National Team Australia, + 00:16
9. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil Argos, + 02:19
10. Judith Jelsma (Ned) WV de Noord Westhoek, s.t.

And with all the GC contenders finishing safely in the bunch, Vos' streak of winning was over, and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the race. It was spectacular racing all week, and the time trials proved decisive.

Final General Classification

1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 11:24:45
2. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:07
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:43
4. Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:50
5. Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) GreenEdge-AIS, + 01:10
6. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 02:29
7. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink – Leontien.nl, + 02:34
8. Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA Drink – Leontien.nl, + 03:14
9. Romy Kasper (Ger) RusVelo, + 04:16
10. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 04:34

Final Points jersey: Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Specialized-lululemon

Final Sprint jersey: Leah Kirchmann, Canadian National Team - read her blog about it!

Best Young Rider: Amy Pieters, Skil-Argos

Best Team: Specialized-lululemon

Star-divide

So, what did we learn?

  • The ITTs will be fun this year. Kristin Armstrong came back super-strong, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the races to come - and when she and Emma Pooley meet again on the road.
  • In the TTTs, in will be very, very hard to beat Specialized-lululemon. Our next one will be in the Elsy Jacobs stage race at the end of the month.
  • Marianne Vos is beatable! She may have won her last three races (out of four raced), but the sickness that kept her out of Flanders, and Specialized's teamwork show she's human, and that must give the other riders hope.
  • We've seen her at the pointy end of all the big races so far, but Adrie Visser confirms that she's kept all the skills she gave to HTC-Highroad and being an excellent team leader for Skil-Argos. The team worked very well too - they may not be on the same level as Specialized-Rabo-AA-GreenEdge, but they're definitely a team to watch out for, with Visser and Best Young Rider Amy Pieters keeping her 2010 form!
  • Look out for Romy Kasper! She's always done well at the Czech races, but it seems like the 25-year-old is ready to take a step up! She not only has the skills, but also the tactical knowledge, making every important break in the race. RusVelo must be happy to have signed her
  • Dolmans-Boels should be pleased with their performance - although their star rider, Martine Bras, was unable to race, after a training accident (although she is back on the bike - get well soon, Martine, and come back stronger!), their young rider Laura van der Kamp did so well, and only missed the key break on Stage 4 by a whisker. When I interviewed her last year, Bras told us to watch out for Van der Kamp, and she's being proved right!
  • We knew this already, but it's been a real lesson to teams - in races like this, positioning is absolutely key. We've got more Dutch stage races to come - the RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden and (if it can find the funding) the Holland Ladies Tour - but this is what women's stage racing is about - position! We'll see a lot more of this in the season to come, and riders who aren't used to this style of racing need to learn it fast!

Huge thanks to the race organisers for making this race so easy and fun to follow - and thanks to the local Dutch TV channels for providing excellent coverage! This race really was a great one - long may it's success last!

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