There has been a huge amount of women's racing this week, so I thought I'd update you on the results, and some other news, and then if we find more videos, we can add them to the comments - which is where any blogs, tweets and things will go too.
We've got results from the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and the USA, we've got Olympic team news, apocalyptic weather interrupting races, race video, the end of a dream and a whole load of funny faces! It's all below the jump!
I'll start with RaboSter, as the first one to finish - and this fabulous photo, used with very kind permission of Bart Hazen, gives you a clue who won!
RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, Netherlands
I wrote about the course in my race preview - but basically, although it was pancake flat, it had a huge range of terrain, from long state-of-the-art bridges to cobbled tracks that you could never described as "roads", to beautiful sea-front stretches, with sand and wind blowing in from the North Sea. It's a race won or lost on the intermediate sprint bonifications, and if you follow the stage links, you'll get the live-text of the stages as they happened.
Stage 1 - 5km ITT
1. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, 00:06:18.76
2. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-Argos, + 00:04.30
3. Jessie Maclean (Aus) Australia, + 00:04.33
4. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, + 00:05.33
5. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:08.68
6. Rixt Maijer (Ned) People's Trust - Noordwesthoek, + 00:09.64
7. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:09.99
8. Sarah Düster (Ger) Rabobank, + 00:11.03
9. Liesbet Devocht (Bel) Rabobank, + 00:11.04
10. Adrie Visser (Ned) Skil-Argos, + 00:11.20
It was lovely to see Iris Slappendel win, especially after her 2011 was marred by injuries and problems when Garmin-Cervélo dropped their women's team unexpectedly. She was lucky to be quickly snapped up by RaboBank, and it paid off! Here's a team video of her talking about her win, and even if you don't understand any of the Dutch, check it out for her huge smiles - that's one very, very happy rider!
Stage 1 reports & photos on Womenscycling.net & the Daily Peloton and full results & photos on the race website.
And check out Marijn de Vries' fantastic ITT face! Pijn may be fijn, but it's also fun to watch her suffering!
Stage 2 - 105.6km
This video is a Rabobank-specific one, about defending Slappendel's jersey, but it includes footage from stage 2. Check out that scenery!
The first half of the race was dominated by AA Drink-Leontien.nl, with Kirsten Wild winning the first two intermediate sprints, and Lizzie Armitstead supporting Wild's challenge by scooping up the lesser intermediate points behind her. The peloton kept fracturing and re-forming, especially after the rain began, but despite attempts, no one got away until Amy Cure (Jayco-AIS) attacked at 40km to go. Cure's lead got up to 1:40, and she took the third sprint - and then the big race was whether she could make it to the end before she was caught. It looked touch-and-go, but finally she made it - a solo win for the young Australian trackie! Wild took the sprint for second, her bonifications leaving her just 16 seconds behind Cure.
1. Amy Cure (Aus) Jayco AIS, 2:39:36
2. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:21
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-Argos, s.t.
4. Laura van der Kamp (Ned) Dolmans-Boels, s.t.
5. Aude Biannic (Fra) France, s.t.
6. Kelly Markus (Bel) Skil-Argos, s.t.
7. Pauline Ferrnad-Prévot (Fra) Rabobank, s.t.
8. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, + 00:23
9. Kelly Druyts (Bel) TopSport Vlaanderen, s.t.
10. Jolien d’Hoore (Bel) TopSport Vlaanderen, s.t.
Stage 2 report & photos from WomensCycling.net & the Daily Peloton and photos from the race website
Stage 3 - 131.2km
A completely flat stage looked like it should be good for Amy Cure, with her lead of 16 seconds over Wild, 17 over Skil-Argos' Amy Pieters and 18 on Slappendel - but with the bonifications, there was everything to ride for, and Wild, who won this race in 2006 and 2010, is an expert at this kind of racing.
Wild won the first sprint, ahead of Slappendel and Aude Biannic (France), and then the second, ahead of Pieters and Slappendel. The peloton was split by winds and attacks, but with AA Drink dominating the race and keeping the pace very high, no one could escape, although Anna van der Breggen (Sengers) tried her hardest. The third sprint went Wild, Pieters, Slappendel - but despite Pauline Ferrand-Prévot having a go at winning solo, and then her Rabobank team-mate Liesbet de Vocht, it was all down to a bunch sprint - which Wild won easily, clinching the GC.
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, 3:38:50
2. Evelyn Arys (Bel) Belgium, s.t.
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-Argos, s.t.
4. Amy Cure (Aus) Jayco-AIS, s.t.
5. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
6. Sarah Düster (Ger) Rabobank, s.t.
7. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
8. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, s.t.
9. Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabobank, s.t.
10. Vera Koedooder (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, s.t.
Wild and AA Drink-Leontien.nl had given the peloton a master-class in how to control and win the race, Wild's third GC victory here - but Amy Cure had put up a spirited fight. It'll be interesting to see whether she'll be in the peloton a bit more after her stint in the Australian Olympic track team - and it's also great to see Amy Pieters riding so well. If you haven't already, note her for your future Virtual DS teams!
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, 6:24:44
2. Amy Cure (Aus) Jayco-AIS, + 00:03
3. Amy Pieters (Ned) Skil-Argos, + 00:12
4. Iris Slappendel (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:18
5. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, + 00:29
6. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
7. Sarah Düster (Ger) Rabobank, + 00:34
8. Vera Koedooder (Ned) Sengers Ladies Team, + 00:35
9. Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:40
10. Jessie Maclean (Aus) Australia, + 00:42
Amy Cure won Best Young Rider, Wild the Sprint Jersey, Pieters the Points jersey and Rabobank the Team prize.
Stage 3 race report & photos from WomensCycling.net & the Daily Peloton - and photos from the race website. And surely Lizzie Armitstead deserves a prize for this tweet?
Apparently this is how my hair looks while I'm at races, I didnt realise until they took the mick! #tootiredtocare twitter.com/L_ArmiTstead/s…— Lizzie Armitstead (@L_ArmiTstead) June 16, 2012
The Tour Series, UK
Over in the UK, it was the final leg of the Johnson's Health Tech GP Series, part of the Tour Series of city centre crits. There were five rounds, starting on 22nd May in Oxford, and ending in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday. Annie Simpson, of Matrix Prendas had won the first round, ahead of Hannah Barnes (Team Ibis Cycles) and Jo Tindley (VC St Raphael), and blogged afterwards
So that was settled then, I’d take a flyer and hope it stuck, an all or nothing move! So from the far corner of the course I just launched it head down along the back straight and into the last corner, just telling myself ‘Dont bin it, dont bin it!’ My legs were burning but one little glance over my shoulder I saw the gap was good and then it dawned on me for the first time that this race was mine! The arms went up, and the smile from ear to ear emerged…all the apprehension was for nothing, but i was still in shock!
Round 2 was won by Harriet Own (Node4 - Giordana Racing) with Simpson in second place and Barnes in third; Round 3 went to Eileen Rowe (Team Ibis Cycles) ahead of Vanderkitten-Focus' Ruth Winder, who was over from the USA to ride solo for the series and Alice Barnes (Twenty3c.co.uk - Orbea); and then the Junior Road World Champion, Lucy Garner (Node4-Giodana), won the penultimate round in Woking, with coming Winder second again, and Penny Rowson (Matrix-Prendas) third, with Simpson's 7th place keeping her in the Series lead
Coming into the final round, Simpson was leading the series at 68 points, with Corinne Hall of Node 4 behind her on 56 and Helen Wyman (Kona Racing) in third place on 52. With 20 points available in Stoke, these three would battle for the series title. I'd been at the Stoke round last year, with Matrix Prendas in their old incarnation as Horizon, and it's a technical circuit with lots of twists and turns, and an incline and descent. Wyman hadn't won a round, and she's always a dangerous rider, but no one expected her to attack at just 500m, or to be able to keep her lead until the end of the race!
Here's what happened as a result, courtesy of Paul Douglas the excellent photographer. Wyman blogged about it afterwards (read the rest, too - she always tells a story well!)
So lap after lap I pushed on the predominantly tail wind uphill section of the course and ensured I didn’t freewheel on the downhill. I know how to pace a 40 minute race given that I’ve made a career out of it in cyclo-cross, so all I had to do was hope there was a lack of coordination behind me. From the time gaps each lap I knew I was taking 5 or 6 seconds a lap out of the peloton, and with it I also took the bonus of the sprints competition jersey on the night. With 4 or 5 laps to go I knew the race was won baring a mechanical issue. My pit man was now chatting to Dean Downing rather than shouting up time gaps, so I took this as confirmation there was no stress in my situation.
So after 40 minutes of controlled pain, I managed to get both hands in the air for the first time this season. As I’d suspected it wasn’t enough for the overall win, but I moved up to 2nd place which is a nice consolation prize. The series has been fantastic for women’s cycling in the UK, with five different winners in the five rounds. A young and progressive team in Matrix Fitness – Prendas won the series and that shows the potential for the future with the UK peloton.
The final results pushed Wyman up into second place, but Simpson's 12th place enabled her to finish the Series ahead of Wyman, winning the Sprints prize to boot! She has a fantastic blog about her highlights of the whole series, where it's pretty safe to say she was very, very, very, very happy with her win!
1. Annie Simpson (GBr) Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 77pts
2. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing, 72pts
3. Corrine Hall (GBr)Node4 - Giordana Racing, 62pts
4. Penny Rowson (GBr) Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 58pts
5. Laura Massey (GBr) Vivelo Bikes / Inverse / Cyclaim, 57pts
6. Harriet Owen (GBr) Node4 - Giordana Racing, 54pts
7. Jo Tindley (GBr) VC St Raphael, 50pts
8. Hannah Walker (GBr) Matrix Fitness - Prendas, 45pts
9. Louise Mahe (GBr) Mule Bar Girls, 45pts
10. Alice Barnes (GBr) Twenty3c.co.uk - Orbea, 31pts
It was no surprise Matrix-Prendas won the team prize - thanks to Paul Douglas for kind permission to use this lovely photo of them, celebrating on the podium (l-r, Annie Simpson, Hannah Walker, Penny Rowson, Jessie Walker)
More great photos by Paul Douglas, on the Matrix-Prendas website - Round 1 in Oxford, Round 2 in Peterborough and Round 4 in Woking. The women's races feature on the ITV4 coverage of the Tour Series, but be warned, the programmes will disappear after a month of being shown, and may be geo-restricted....
Giro del Trentino, Italy
As I said in my race preview, this race has had real problems, dropping from three days to three stages over two days, and perhaps as a result, missing out the traditional mountain stages. There was no need to despair, though, because as RaboSter shows us, the excitement in women's racing comes from the riders, rather than the parcours, and the startlist was packed with the kinds of riders who are all about attacking, all the time. I'll edit in videos as we find them - but if you see them, pleeeeeeeease add them to the comments!
Stage 1 - 99km
The stage was a lumpy one, using the same hill a couple of times, so although the biggest climb was 200m, it invited a breakaway.... AA Drink-Leontien.nl weren't satisfied with their success in the Netherlands, so Sharon Laws put in an early bid for Italian glory, attacking with her team-mate Emma Pooley and GreenEdge-AIS' Judith Arndt, and then alone - but she was caught, and by the time the race was coming up to the Cortaccia climb for the first time, there were 18 riders in the front group, who attacked each other mercilessly. Pooley tried again, this time with another GreenEdge rider, Linda Vilumsen, and Noemi Cantele of Be Pink - and then escaped on the second ascent - and after the descent, the trio were joined by Charlotte Becker (Specialized-lululemon), Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo), Malgorzata Jasinska (MCipollini-Giambenini), Alexandra Bruchenkova (SC Michela Fanini Rox) and the 18 year old Rossella Ratto (Verinlegno-Fabiani). It was a perfect group to stay away, and their team-mates settled in to frustrate any attempts to join them, as their lead grew to over 4 minutes.
Of course, those riders weren't going to play nicely forever, and it was, inevitably, Pooley who made the first big break for freedom at 3km to go, and when caught, again at 800m. But it wasn't to be, and Cantele won the bunch sprint, with Villumsen just behind her. Jasinska rounded off the podium - and behind them, Sharon Laws won the sprint for 9th from the chase group.
1. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink, 2:32:33
2. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
3. Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) MCipollini-Giambenini, s.t.
4. Charlotte Becker (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
5. Alexandra Bruchenkova (Rus) SC Michela Fanini Rox, s.t.
6. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, s.t.
7. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
8. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Verinlegno-Fabiani, s.t.
9. Sharon Laws (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 03:27
10. Grete Treier (Est) SC Michela Fanini Rox, s.t.
Photos of the stage on the Race facebook - Race report on Cicloweb and FCI (you may need gnomes) - and in English on John CycloPunk's website
Stage 2/1 - 63km
This was the double-stage day, with a road race in the morning, 4 laps with a climb and descent at Sarnonico in the middle. On the first climb, about 30 riders were at the front, with Emma Pooley leading over the GPM and Katazyna Sosna (Vaiano) attacking off the front for a while. By the second GPM point, a group of 4 had escaped - Sharon Laws again, Fabiana Luperini (Faren-Honda), Grete Treier (Michela Fanini) and former World Champion Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giambenini). Luperini took the second GPM, Laws the third, and the front four stayed away, but they never got more than two minutes ahead, so were no threat to the GC, which was coming down to Cantele, Pooley, Ratto, Zabelinskaya and Ratto in the first chase group.
Luperini attacked in the final lap, taking the others by surprise, and getting 30 seconds on them - but Laws chased hard, and very nearly caught the Italian. Luperini crossed the line looking very serious, but seemed a lot happier on the podium. There was time for a short race, before the GC would be decided by the final ITT. Burchenkova had crossed the line as part of group of 6, lead by Judith Arndt, 59 seconds back, so she was out of the GC, leaving 5 to contend....
1. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Faren-Honda, 1:44:48
2. Sharon Laws (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:10
3. Grete Treier (Est) SC Michela Fanini Rox, + 00:35
4. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 00:40
5. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Verinlegno-Fabiani, + 00:51
6. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink, s.t.
7. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEdge-AIS, s.t.
8. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, s.t.
9. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
10. Claudia Häusler (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:55
Photos of the stage on the race facebook - Race report on Cicloweb and by John CycloPunk
Stage 2/2 - 5km ITT
So this was it. Of the 5 GC contenders, Pooley is a former ITT World Champ, but better over longer and/or hillier distances, Villumsen is the current World silver medallist, with a great ITT record, and Cantele and Zabelinskaya the Italian and Russian national ITT champions, so it would be a very tight race.
Shelley Olds (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) was the early leader at 8:26.93s, but was overtaken by Sosna at 8:18s - and then it was time for the World ITT Champion, Judith Arndt, who destroyed the field, the only rider to get below 8 minutes, finishing at 07:57.69. It looked like there was no chance of anyone overtaking her - and then it was time for the GC contenders. It wasn't Pooley's ideal course, but she moved into joint 3rd on the stage with Claudia Häusler, both on 8:07.63s. Zabelinskaya pushed them both down a spot, with 8:00.7s and two riders were left....
And then it was time for Linda Villumsen. She was the favourite of the GC contenders, but she did even better than the twitterati expected, finishing ahead of Arndt with a spectacular 7:53.14 that gave her the stage win and the GC. Although Cantele was still to finish, it was clear she couldn't touch Villumsen.
1. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEdge-AIS, 00:07:53
2. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:04
3. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, + 00:07
4. Claudia Häusler (Ger) GreenEdge-AIS, + 00:14
5. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, s.t.
6. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink, + 00:15
7. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 00:16
8. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Verinlegno-Fabiani, + 00:22
9. Jessie Daams (Bel) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:24
10. Katarzyna Sosna (Ltu) Vaiano-Tepso, + 00:25
Photos of the Stage on the race facebook - and a few on Cyclingnews
Villumsen's blistering ride secured her the GC, a great win for the New Zealander, who's been an attacking, aggressive rider all season, lighting up races. It's her first GC win since Thüringen Rundfahrt in 2009 - and with this being the second ITT stage she's won this year, she has to be a rider to watch at the Olympics and the Worlds GreenEdge must be congratulating themselves for signing her!
As you can imagine, with the ITT being so short, the final GC splits were very tight - Zabelinskaya and Pooley completing the podium, Pooley taking the GPM jersey and Ratto, who had a brilliant race, the Best Young Rider jersey. Monty. and civetta have been talking her up for ages - and now you know why!
Final General Classification (completed GC to follow)
1. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEdge-AIS, 04:26:05
2. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, + 00:07
3. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:14
4. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink, + 00:15
5. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Verinlegno-Fabiani, + 00:22
6. Charlotte Becker (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:38
7. Alexandra Burchenkova (Rus) SC Michela Fanini Rox, + 00:40
8. Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) MCipollini-Giambenini, + 01:41
9. Sharon Laws (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 03:19
10. Grete Treier (Est) SC Michela Fanini Rox, + 05:45
Nature Valley Grand Prix, USA
The final race of the week was the longest - 5 men's and women's races around Minnesota, with all kinds of fun activities all around the race. As with all the North American races, Podium Insight provide the absolute best coverage, and there is all kinds of fun stuff on their site! And remember, as we have a lot of sprinty stages, intermediate bonifications are key here, too.
Stage 1 - St Paul ITT, 7.7 miles
The stage started really badly for Carmen Small's Optum/Kelly Benefits, as the race website tells us:
While Small and her Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates checked out the new course along the Mississippi River bluffs, someone broke into their team car and stole three bags containing personal items. Team director Rachel Heal, a Brit, lost a laptop, cash and her passport, leaving her no identification for her Monday flight to nationals in Augusta, Ga.
"They were obviously not cyclists, because they left our expensive bike wheels in there," said Small, who lost only her wallet and a little cash. "We had seen the car 10 minutes before, and it was fine." Small joked that she may have been riding on anger. If so, it proved an effective strategy.
A very effective strategy, for Small and her team-mates - check out the results!
1. Carmen Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, 00:17:30.390
2. Jackie Crowell (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, + 00:09
3. Amber Neben (USA) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
4. Janel Holcomb (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:13
5. Kristin Magrath (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, + 00:19
6. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:22
7. Denise Ramsden (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
8. Brianna Walle (USA) Nature Valley Cycling Team, + 00:25
9. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:26
10. Amber Gaffney (USA) SC Velo - Empower Coaching, + 00:30
Race report & photos on Podium Insight - Race report & photos on Cyclingnews
Stage 2 - St Paul's Downtown Criterium, 28 laps, 55km
After the ITT, it was time for a short break, and then an evening crit. I won't tell you about it, watch the video, it makes it sound so exciting! But hasn't Loren Rowney had a fantastic first pro season? And Carmen Small, too, who kept the yellow jersey.
1. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, 00:59:09, + 12" bonuses
2. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t., + 8" bonus
3. Carmen Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t., + 16" bonuses
4. Lenore Pipes (GUM) Kowalski's Collegiate All-Stars, s.t.
5. Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
6. Emily Collins (NZl) Vanderkitten-Focus, s.t.
7. Anne-Marie Morin (Can) Specialized-Mazda-SGC, s.t.
8. Heather Logan Sprenger (Can) Exergy TWENTY12, s.t.
9. Samantha Schneider (USA) Tibco-To The Top, s.t.
10. Lindsay Beyer (USA) Nature Valley Cycling Team, s.t.
Race report on the race website - report & photos on Podium Insight - race report & photos on Cyclingnews
Stage 3 - Cannon Falls Road Race, 74 miles
Well, it was meant to be, but it was cancelled due to Apocalyptical weather - the second time this stage has had to be cancelled in three years! Read all about it on Podium Insight and Cyclingnews!
Stage 4 - Uptown Minneapolis Crit, 28 laps
It was Megan Guarnier (Tibco-To The Top) who tried and tried to get away, but it all came down to a bunch sprint, and Theresa Cliff-Ryan took her second stage win of the race - but couldn't shake Carmen Small off the GC - Optum rode beautifully to get the vital intermediate sprint points
1. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, 1:05:35, + 12" bonuses
2. Samantha Schneider (USA) Tibco-To The Top, s.t., + 8" bonuses
3. Carmen Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t., + 14" bonuses
4. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Specialized-lululemon, s.t., + 5" bonuses
5. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
6. Heather Logan Sprenger (Can) Exergy TWENTY12, s.t., + 3' bonuses
7. Sarah Fader (USA) FCS/Rouse p/b Mr Restore, s.t.
8. Janel Holcomb (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
9. Lindsay Beyer (USA) Nature Valley Cycling Team, s.t.
10. Jenny Rios (Mex) SC Velo - Empower Coaching, s.t.
Race report on the race website - report & photos on Podium Insight - report & photos on Cyclingnews
Stage 5 - Menomonie Road Race, 131km
A ride through the hilly countryside through a heavy rain shower, muggy sunshine, and then oncoming rain - and then 4 loops in the town, this was the stage to try to make a difference to the GC.
The riders knew this was the big chance to get time gaps, but although Lauren Stephens (FCS/ROUSE p/b Mr. Restor) and Megan Guarnier (Megan? Attacking? AGAIN??? Of course she was!) tried to get away, they were pulled back, with Optum-Kelly working hard to protect Small's GC lead and the race came into the final laps altogether.
Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon) attacked in the final laps, but was caught - and then, while Exergy TWENTY12 were setting up a sprint train for another Cliff-Ryan win, Emilia Fahlin and Loren Rowney nipped past them - Fahlin trying to lead Rowney out, but accidentally winning herself! It was a lovely win - check out how happy they both look, like they're laughing at it all!
1. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Specialized-lululemon, 3:21:47, + 12" bonuses
2. Loren Rowney (Aus) Specialized-lululemon, s.t., + 8" bonuses
3. Emily Collins (NZl) Vanderkitten-Focus, s.t., + 6" bonuses
4. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, + 00:11
5. Carmen Small (USA) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
6. Ingrid Drexel (Mex) Mexican National Team, s.t.
7. Samantha Schneider (USA) TIBCO-To The Top, s.t.
8. Ana Teresa Casas (Mex) Mexican National Team, s.t.
9. Mayra del Rocio Rocha (Mex) Mexican National Team, + 00:03
10. Amber Neben (USA) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
Stage 5 report on the race website - and race report & photos on Cyclingnews
So going into the final stage, Carmen Small lead the GC, with Emailia Fahlin 2nd at + 36", Amber Neben + 44" and Janel Holcomb at + 48". Barring disasters, it looked like Small had the race win in the bag...
Stage 6 - Stillwater Criterium
It calls itself a crit, but it has a 22% climb and steep descent on every 1.4 mile lap! Definitely one for the hard men and women of the peloton!
Kristin Magrath (Exergy) attacked first, and was doing really well, until a mechanical on the hill took her out of the competition.
Megan Guarnier had been attacking like crazy all throughout the race, owning the bright red Most Aggressive rider jersey, so it was only a matter of time before she won a stage - and this one, being super hard, was a very appropriate one for her to win! She attacked hard, getting away in lap 7 of 13, and won in a solo effort - but it wasn't enough to replace Small in the GC, who had kept her in sight as much as she could. Still, an impressive ride, good to see her on that top step.
1. Megan Guarnier (USA) Tibco-To The Top, 0:52:57
2. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:17
3. Carmen Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.,
4. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:19
5. Ally Stacher (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:20
6. Julie Beveridge (Can) Colavita/ESPNw, s.t.
7. Jackie Crowell (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, + 00:28
8. Meredith Miller (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 00:35
9. Amanda Miller (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 00:36
10. Lindsay Myers (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 00:42
Race report & photos on Cyclingnews
So, it was no surprise that Carmen Small took the GC - she and her team should be very proud of their fantastic race. If this is what racing in anger does to them, someone should steal their stuff before every race!
Final Nature Valley GC results
1. Carmen Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, 6:36:45
2. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:38
3. Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:56
4. Jackie Crowell (USA) Exergy TWENTY12, + 01:02
5. Julie Beveridge (Can) Colavita/ESPNw, + 01:32
6. Denise Ramsden (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 01:45
7. Ally Stacher (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 01:50
8. Janel Holcomb (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 01:56
9. Amanda Miller (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 02:03
10. Megan Guarnier (USA) Tibco-To The Top, + 02:04
So, this may be the world's longest race report, so I'll keep the "other news" short
- Settimana Tricolore (Italian National Championships' week) has started with the Junior women's ITT - watch out in the future for winner Anna Zita Maria Stricker (Vecchia Fontana), second-placed Francesca Pattaro (Lievore Artuso) and third placed Veronica Cornolti (Footon Servetto), and you too can feel as smug as Monty. does when Ratto did so well this week!
- A VeloNews report on a USA Olympic team training camp, on how Evelyn Stevens riding with Taylor Phinney, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Valde Velde changes the way the men race (before Dave Z and CvdV put themselves out of the running for London...
- Emma Johansson is very happy to feel like she's back on form again
- The USA have announced their Olympic road team (read Jen See's article!) - and the Canadians have announced their track team too (watch out for Tibco's Tara Whitten in the omnium!)
- Kathryn Bertine blogs on having to give up her dreams of getting to the Olympics - and typically, looks on the bright side, putting it in perspective and telling us all about her plans for the future. Here's to all her future success - and I hope her dad recovers as fast as possible.
- Finally, spare a thought for American cyclist Brooke Miller. Miller used to ride for Tibco, and she's recently given birth to premature twins, who have been very ill in hospital. Please send Brooke and her family all your positive vibes, for her, her partner and the babies. I don't know them at all, but they're very much in my thoughts at the moment, and I hope everything goes as well as possible for them.
Anything else you see, add it to the comments...