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Women's racing is Smarter- The Juniors prove it scientifically

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A couple of days ago, the Inner Ring ran an interesting piece on how junior men riders develop when they hit the seniors, titled Do Junior World Champions Succeed in the Pro Ranks. The conclusion that they came to was that the time trial was a far greater predictor of later success than the road race, and they speculated that it was because the former was a test of pure physiology, while the latter was far more of a lottery.

Now I did something similar last year before the European Junior champs (which was meant to be before the Worlds, but hey, anyone can mix these things up), or rather I listed the top three from the road race in the previous six years and pointed out who had gone on to greater things. Which turned out to be most of them. So I thought it would be interesting to do the same for the time trial as well, to go back a bit further (well as far as I could actually, 1997-2004 come from various parts of Wikipedia, while the full results from 2005 onwards are available on the UCI website). So head over the page for the tables.

Time Trial

Gold Silver Bronze
1997 Olga Zabelinskaya Sylvia Hubscher Maria Mercedes Cagigas
1998 Trixi Worrack Olga Zabelinskaya Geneviève Jeanson
1999 Genevieve Jeanson Juliette Vandekerkove Trixi Worrack
2000 Juliette Vandekerkove Katherine Bates Bertine Spijkerman
2001 Nicole Cooke Natalia Bojarskaja Diana Elmentaite
2002 Anna Zugno Tatiana Guderzo Claudia Hecht
2003 Bianca Knöpfle Loes Markerink Iris Slappendel
2004 Tereza Hurikova Rebecca Much Amanda Spratt
2005 Lisa Brennauer Tereza Hurikova Mie Bekker Lacota
2006 Rebecca Spencer Lesya Kalitovskya Mie Bekker Lacota
2007 Jose Tomic Valeriya Kolonenko Jerika Hutchinson
2008 Maria Grandt Petersen Valeriya Kolonenko Laura Dittmann
2009 Hanna Solovei Pauline Ferrand Prevot Elizavetta Oshurkova
2010 Hanna Solovei Pauline Ferrand Prevot Amy Cure
2011 Jessica Allen Elinor Barker Mieke Kröger
2012 Elinor Barker Cecille Ludvig Demi de Jong

Taking the fourteen years from 1997 to 2010, there are 42 names in total. Nine of those are duplicates in that the rider won a medal in both years they were eligible to participate, so that leaves 33 different girls. We always say that the women's peloton is cleaner, so it's sad to have to point out that two have been subsequently banned for doping, namely Geneviève Jeanson and Hanna Solovei, so that leaves 31 that you may or may not have heard of. And of those I reckon that I've heard of around a dozen through their cycling achievements. Let's call it a third.

Road Race

Gold Silver Bronze
1997 Mirella van Melis Nicole Brändli Sofie Andersson
1998 Tina Liebig Olga Zabelinskaya Nathalie Bates
1999 Genevieve Jeanson Trixi Worrack Noemi Cantele
2000 Nicole Cooke Magdalena Sadlecka Clare Hall-Patch
2001 Nicole Cooke Pleuni Mohlmann Maja Włoszczowska
2002 Suzanne De Goede Claudia Stumpf Monica Holler
2003 Loes Markerink Irina Tolmacheva Sabine Fischer
2004 Marianne Vos Marta Bastianelli Ellen van Dijk
2005 Mie Bekker Lacota Marianne Vos Rasa Leleivyte
2006 Rasa Leleivyte Marina Romoli Eleonora Patuzzo
2007 Eleonora Patuzzo Cherise Taylor Valentina Scandolara
2008 Jolien d'Hoore Rossella Callovi Hanna Amend
2009 Rossella Callovi Pauline Ferrand Prevot Susanna Zorzi
2010 Pauline Ferrand Prevot Rossella Ratto Coryn Rivera
2011 Lucy Garner Jessy Druyts Christina Siggaard

Again 42 names in total. Take away the six that appear twice plus Jeanson (but leaving in Rasa Leleivyte who tested positive for EPO earlier this year, six years after she won her gold medal), leaves 35 different riders. Of those 35, and using the really not very scientific selection method of "do I remember them doing something in a race?", I say yes about two dozen times.

So there's a funny thing. Even though the road race can be a bit of a lottery for the boys, among the girls it's a pretty good predictor of future success. DSs in the pro peloton may be able to take the male Neanderthals and harness that "talent", but if you've got a good racing brain when you're a kid then it helps to be a women. Or to put it even more simply, women's racing is brainier. That's a scientific fact. OK the numbers are a bit rough, but one-third versus two-thirds recognition is a pretty notable difference. SO remember that when you watch (well not actually watch, thanks NOS) Misses Garner, Druyts, Siggaard, Stricker, Mottet and Albershardt, that brain power will beat brute strength any day, and you're seeing the brainier hlaf of the Juniors in action.