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Topcompetitie Vrouwen - 1 race to go!

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Tomorrow is the Omloop Door Middag-Humsterland, a Dutch day-race that's not only warm-up for the Holland Ladies Tour, but the final round in the KNWU Topcompetitie Vrouwen.   It's a great competition - 5 Dutch races, including a mini-Tour and the nearest thing we have to Amstel Gold Vrouwen - and in case you've missed any of it, here's my Story-So-Far.

The first 30 riders across the line of each race (or the GC for RaboSter) score points towards the competition, from 100 down to 1, like this:

100-80-70-60-50-40-36-32-30-28-24-22-20-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

and the first 3 riders across the line from each team also score points towards the team competition.  You can read the  rules and the results of each of the races  - but it's much more fun to let me tell you what happened, right?  Although if at any point you want to know more about the races, click through the title links to Monty's race previews, which have profiles, links and all kinds of handy and fun facts.

Round 1: Ronde Van Gelderland, 17th April

Despite the fact it was the week before the Fleche Wallone, this race was oversubscribed, so much so that teams were limited to 6, and in the nearest thing we got to controversy, Marianne Vos didn't race in sort-of protest, to let her team-mates have a chance to ride.  You should check out Monty's preview for the, erm, misleading race profile - but although it wasn't as mountainous as that suggests, it was still 2 laps of a hilly course, with 3 laps 8.8km laps at the end - but despite Emma Johansson attacking on the Emmapiramide (where else?) and solo-ing for 40km, it came down to a bunch sprint, won by Kirsten Wild.

This is the only race in the series where we don't have a proper video - this is the nearest I could find.  For more visuals you can see CJ Farquharson's photos of the race, with her report

 

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo
2.    Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Lotto, s.t.
3.    Kirsty Broun (Aus) Australia, s.t.
4.    Brooke Miller (USA), Tibco, s.t.
5.    Anne Arnouts (Bel) RedSun, s.t.
6.    Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) HTC Columbia, s.t.
7.    Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
8.    Natalie Van Gogh (Ned) Swaboladies, s.t.
9.    Emma Johansson (Swe) RedSun, s.t.

10.  Emma Mackie (Aus) Tibco, s.t.

Read on for sun, sea, sand, attacking, the Cauberg, escape artistry, videos, and more!

Round 2: Omloop Van Borsele, 24th April

This is one of my personal favourites in how to run and present a women's race.  It took place as part of a cycling festival, with a men's race and a junior women's stage race (won by Laura Trott & Team GB, but I'd love it anyway).  The website had tonnes of useful information, including a live race ticker, videos from fixed cameras at the finish line (I wish every race did this, it seems so simple) and photos... The actual race circuit was pretty flat, but that just gave the riders more energy to be able to attack..

 

and because the organisers are fabulous, you should also check out their finish line video, which they posted online:

It was a fast, hard race, with some serious attacks and work, especially from Cervélo.  At about 25k to go an elite group of about 15 (including Cooke and Vos, 2 former road World Champions) escaped and gained 3 minutes on the peloton (check the video for Cervélo riding in beautiful formation, pushing that group harder and harder) - and then Nicole Cooke jumped from the front of the group, with Ellen van Dijk, Liesbet de Vocht and Charlotte Becker (who was there to run interference for Cervélo, working for Wild rather than with the group).  It looked like this group could make it to the end, but then Marianne Vos took off from the chase group, to try and catch them, and that was one threat too many - with the chase group trying to get her back and the escapees wanting to keep her away... Cooke  kept attacking, but kept getting pulled back, until at 3km to go the 4 escapees were caught by a group-ette of 9 riders that included Wild and Vos.  You'd think they'd give up at this point and accept a bunch sprint, but in the final kilometre Cooke attacked AGAIN, this time with Van Dijk - but Wild lead the chase, and it ended in a photo-finish sprint for the line.

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, s.t.
2.    Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Lotto, s.t.
3.    Kirsty Broun (Aus) Australia, s.t.
4.    Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloiet, s.t.
5.    Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) HTC Columbia, s.t.
6.    Charlotte Becker (Ger) Cervélo, s.t.
7.    Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
8.    Chloe Hosking (Aus) HTC Columbia, s.t., s.t.
9.    Nicole Cooke (GBR) Great Britain, s.t.
10.  Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl, s.t.

Kirsten Wild's post-race interview:

 

Star-divide

Round 3: RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, 17th - 19th June

Ah, RaboSter!  A time trial and 2 stages along the Netherlands coast - so flat, with wind, sea-front roads, windmills, bridges, wind, rain, sand, dams, rain, sun, wind blowing sand at the riders and many, many attacks.  Half the peloton were the Giro del Trentino, but this had some big teams, although Cervélo and Nederland Bloeit ended up the two to watch...

The race website is fabulous and has tickers (click through the stage links), photos and great info.  (Hello Reinier, if you ever read this!)

Stage 1 was a 7km ITT, and Cervélo were just super-strong.  Out of their 6 riders, 5 were in the top 6, and their lowest-placed rider, Sarah Düster came 11th...

 

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, 9'03".89
2.    Regina Bruins (Ned) Cervélo, +10.26
3.    Iris Slappendel (Ned) Cervélo, +12.46
4.    Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +13.41
5.    Charlotte Becker (Ger) Cervélo, +14.79
6.    Lizzie Armitstead (GBR) Cervélo, +17.69
7.    Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +20.35
8.    Vera Koedooder (Ned) Batavus, +20.94
9.    Marie Lindberg (Swe) RedSun, +22.31
10.  Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Nederland Bloeit,+24.94

Stage 2 was 114km that skirted the Zeeland shore as much as it could, and the wind helped the attacks, so the race continually split into small groups, reformed, and attacked again, with a core lead group of 19 riders (that included 5 out of the 6 Nederland Bloeit) gaining nearly 3 minutes on the peloton - and although there were many, many attacks off the front of this group, it came down to a bunch sprint

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, 2:54:20
2.    Charlotte Becker (Ger) Cervélo, s.t.
3.    Martine Bras (Ned) Royal Antwerp Bicycle Club, s.t.
4.    Chantal Blaak (Ned) Leontien.nl, s.t.
5.    Sara Mustonen (Swe) Hitec, s.t.
6.    Suzanne de Goede (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
7.    Janneke Kanis (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, s.t.
8.    Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl, s.t.
9.    Marie Lindberg (Swe) RedSun, s.t.
10.  Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit,s.t.

Stage 3 went out and back over 2 8 km long, very exposed (but beautiful) dams, with at least 1 stretch of cobbles, before ending on 2 16km laps with parts along the seafront, including a small climb up to the top of the sea-wall.  As you'd expect by now, the wind played a huge factor, this time aided and abetted by periodic showers of rain, and it seemed like everyone who was there attacked at some stage or another, breaking up the race into lots of groups that dissolved and separated all the time, ending up on the last lap with an elite group of 3 - Annemiek Van Vleuten and Janneke Kanis from Nederland Bloeit and Iris Slappendel from Cervélo.  Watching it via the ticker was exhausting!  But lots of fun, too - and it ended with a non-Cervélo-win-shocker!

 

1.    Janneke Kanis (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, 3:24:17
2.    Iris Slappendel (Ned) Cervélo, s.t.
3.    Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +9"
4.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, s.t.
5.    Vera Koedooder (Ned) Batavus, s.t.
6.    Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl, s.t.
7.    Regina Bruins (Ned) Cervélo, s.t.
8.    Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervélo, +12"
9.    Lizzie Armitstead (GBR) Cervélo, s.t.
10.  Sara Mustonen (Swe) Hitec, +16"

Leaving the GC for glory and Topcompetitie points, looking like this:

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, 6:27:33
2.    Iris Slappendel (Ned) Cervélo, +4"
3.    Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +25"
4.    Regina Bruins (Ned) Cervélo, +27"
5.    Vera Koedooder (Ned) Batavus, +31
6.    Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, +41"
7.    Lizzie Armitstead (GBR) Cervélo, +43"
8.    Marie Lindberg (Swe) RedSun, +46"
9.    Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervélo, +1'05"
10.  Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl, +1'06"

 

Star-divide

Round 4: Park Hotel Rooding Hills/Holland Hills Classic, 8th August

The next race was completely different territory, and while I'm not usually one who approves of races changing their name, Park Hotel Rooding Hills stepped in to rescue this race, and deserve all the credit in the world, as this race is the nearest we have to Amstel Gold Vrouwen (well, it's not in the spring, and it's on the same day as at least 2 other major races, but any route that includes 4 ascents of the Cauberg (or as I'll always think of it after reading Marijn de Vries' blog on the race, the C-auauau!-berg... read her post on why) has got to be great!

 

It was lots of little loops around the same area, with lots of sharp hills - perfect Classics territory, so it was no surprise when perfect Classics rider Grace Verbeke took off on the attack on the 2nd ascent of the Cauberg, in a move that distanced even seasoned attack-queens Emmas Pooley and Johansson, and then again on the 3rd time over the Cauberg, this time shaking off Cervélo's other mountain queen, Claudia Häusler.  Leontien.nl rode a great race, with 3 riders in the top 10,

1.    Grace Verbeke (Bel) Belgian National Team, 3:14:17
2.    Chantal Blaak (Ned) Leontien.nl,  +0:51
3.    Iris Slappendel (Ned) Cervélo Test Team,  +1:46
4.    Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Mix-team Nederland Bloeit-Topsport Vlaanderen,  +1:47
5.    Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl,  +1:51
6.    Emma Trott (GBR) Weijers-Hako-MovingLadies,  +1:52
7.    Vera Koedooder (Ned) Batavus Ladies Cycl Team,  + 2:01
8.    Petra Dijkman (Ned) RedSun Cycling Team,  +2:09
9.    Marijn de Vries (Ned) Leontien.nl,  +2:34
10.  Claudia Hausler (Ger) Cervélo Test Team, + 3:18

 

Star-divide

So if you've been following this at all, you'll have realised that whatever hapens tomorrow, Kirsten Wild has easily won the Topcompetitie. 

1.    Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervélo, 307 points
2.    Iris Slappendel (Ned) Cervélo, 165
3.    Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Lotto, 160
4.    Kirsty Broun (Aus) Australia, 140
5.    Lucinda Brand (Ned) Leontien.nl, 114
6.    Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, 106
7.    Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Nederland Bloeit, 101
8.    Grace Verbeke (Bel) Belgium, 100
9.    Marianne Vos (Ned) Nederland Bloeit, 100
10.  Vera Koedooder (Ned) Batavus, 91

But take a look at the battle for 2nd and 3rd place - not only will Australian sprinter & Lotto Manager Rochelle Gilmore want to regain her 3rd spot from Iris Slappendel, but there are all kinds of great riders who'll want to take it from both of them.  Check back later for Monty's profile of tomorrow's race - and follow it in the comments for what happens next.....