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Amy Pieters wins the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Olga Zabelinskaya wins Costa Rica and more women's racing updates

It's been a huge weekend of racing, with Amy Pieters winning the first European race of the season, the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, in fine style, while over in Costa Rica, Olga Zabelinskaya won the stage race. Let me tell you what happened, and point you to videos, photos and other links - and if any virtual Directeur Sportifs have been wondering about their riders moonlighting at the Track World Champs, I can show you that, too...

Francois Nel - Velo/Getty Images

Omloop het Nieuwsblad

There's a whole minute from the race on Sporza - click through and watch it, and hopefully they'll know we want more!

Here's a 2.5 minute video from Belgian channel avs (thankyou broerie!) which we can't embed, but you can click through and watch - and a different 2:30 from Focus WTV (thanks again!)

UPDATE! And here's 11 minutes more video:

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and here's another video via broerie, from the small team Isorex Ladies, whose Basque rider Irene San Sebastian rides with broerie's training group came a brilliant 11th place.

UPDATE! Video of the team presentations

So that doesn't tell us much!  But luckily there is the internet to help us find out more!

The early part of the race was full of crashes, and early attacks, but as so often happens, the decisive move happened around the 60km mark.  Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) attacked on the Côte de Trieu, and the chase exploded on the Paterberg, but only three riders got away to join the leader - Armitstead's team-mate Christine Majerus, young Liv-Shimano Dutch rider Amy Pieters and 2010 & 11 race winner Emma Johansson (ORICA-AIS), who had already come back from a crash after the Tiegemberg.

Behind these four, the attacks had splintered the group, and crashes didn't help organise the chase, but they got it together, and a group of around 20 were working to close the gap - with riders including Ash Moolman (Hitec), Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabo) attacking off the front to try to reach the group, but getting swept up again.  As the race went on, Majerus couldn't keep up the breakaway pace, and dropped off the front at the Paderstraat, but as the trio approached Ghent, the chase was getting closer and closer - 1:35 at 8k, then 1 minute, 42 seconds at 5km, 30 secs at 3km, 18 secs as they entered the last kilometre... would they manage to stay away?  With the peloton almost in touching distance, Amy Pieters sprinted to victory, her first big Classics win.

Top 10

1.   Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Shimano
2.   Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
3.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.
4.   Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Lotto Belisol, + 00:06
5.   Kirsten Wild (Ned) Liv-Shimano, s.t.
6.   Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) Futurumshop-Zannata, s.t.
7.   Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
8.   Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) Hitec Products, s.t.
9.   Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobnak-Liv, s.t.
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.

Full results

This was such a great result for Pieters, and follows her first UCI win in Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar, where she ended up second overall behind her team-mate Kirsten Wild, and wearing the Best Young Rider jersey to boot.  Pieters is still only 22, but it feels like she's been around for ever, and she's always been a great talent, winning those BYR jerseys all over the peloton, including in the 2011 Thüringen Rundfahrt.  Last year she took her first podiums in the Road World Cup in two different ways - coming third in the completely flat ChongMing Island bunch sprint, which she was only leading after Wild's shoulder injury and in the Vårgårda road race, coming through all the attacks and avoiding the attrition each time the race hit the hill, to come third.  It looks like the Pieters-Wild combination could cause damage all over the Classics - and it'll be great to see how Pieters develops throughout the year.

There was bad luck for Pieters' team-mate, Marijn de Vries, who broke her collarbone in a crash...

UPDATE: Marijn's blog about the crash is really touching - click through and read it

but good news for Ash Moolman...

Photos by Bart Hazen on Peloton Café, and race reports from ORICA-AIS - with a great set of photos, you should definitely look at them! - and from Boels-Dolmans, with Armitstead quotes, a disappointed Rabobank-Liv, Hitec Products, Wiggle-Honda, and of course, from Liv-Shimano.  There are rider blogs from Gracie Elvin, a blog by Anika Todd on what her first ever Spring Classic was like, and race report on Tiffany Cromwell's site - she was taking a lot of backstage photos, which you can see on her instagram.


Vuelta a Costa Rica

Stage 1

Stage 2 - the ITT

Stage 3

Stage 4

Stage 5

So apart from Stage 1, won by Brazilian Flavia Oliveira, all the stages were won by pro peloton riders, with Shelley Olds winning two sprint stages, Alena Amialiusik taking Astana-BePink's first UCI-ranked win, and Olga Zabelinskaya winning the ITT and the General Classification..

Final GC

1.   Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, 8:52:19
2.   Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Brazil, + 01:32
3.   Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Astana-BePink, + 02:04
4.   Serika Mitchel Guluma Ortiz (Col) Colombia, + 02:58
5.   Edith Guillen Chavarria, + 03:11
6.   Elena Berlato (Ita) Alé-Cipollini, s.t.
7.   Elena Kuchinskaya (Rus) RusVelo, + 03:28
8.   Shelley Olds (USA) Alé-Cipollini, + 03:56
9.   Doris Schweizer (Swi) Astana-BePink, s.t.
10. Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana-BePink, + 04:09

Full results

What does this mean?  Well, Olga Zabelinskaya's ITTing well, helping her to win her first race of the year, so her year off on maternity leave clearly hasn't hurt her.   And Shelley Olds not only won those tw sprint stages to make it over the hills and into the top 10 GC - but that wasn't the deepest field, so we'll have to wait to see what it means against Europe.  It's likely to be a few weeks til we see the riders over there in the Euro peloton, as they'll probably be racing in El Salvador next, but they'll be back by Flanders, if not before....


Track World Championships

First up from the roadies, remember how Jens recommended Kelly Druyts as a rider who should be great in the Spring Classics?  Well, he was sort of right*!  Here's Kelly in action in the Scratch Race (edited video) and I love this photo of her delight and disbelief

* Sort of is better than he usually does, so we should all be very proud indeed!

It seems like the rider at Track Worlds who's in most vds teams is Australian Amy Cure, and if you're one of the 81 DSs who have her in your team, you should be very proud of her.  She won the bronze medal in the Team Pursuit and then faced Ganna Solovey in the ride-off for Individual Pursuit bronze.  Solovey and Cure raced a lot in the junior ranks, on road and track, but they haven't faced each other for a few years, due to Solovey's two-year steroid ban in 2011, so how would they shape up?

That was a great result for Cure, but she didn't stop there!  Next up was the Points race, which was scintillating racing, full of attacks and laps and excitement.  DSs might spot their riders Giorgia Bronzini, Kelly Druyts again, Julie Leth and more of their riders, and it was a fantastic race - here's the short edit:

Wasn't that great?  Here's an interview with the very happy Cure after the race, before she'd even caught her breath!

If you want to see more of the races from the Track Worlds, I've collected videos, photos and links from the women's races (and some of the men's) on my blog - Days 1 & 2 (scratch, team sprint, team pursuit, 500m) and Days 3-5 (sprint, points, IP, omnium and keirin). All the results are on Tissot, and all the UCI videos are on their youtube.


Up next for the women's peloton, we have the 2014 Lotto Cycling Cup, a series of Belgian Classics, which opens with Les Samyn des Dames, on Wednesday 5th March, with the second round following quickly on it's heels, the Omloop van het Hageland, aka Tielt-Winge, on 9th March.  Check out broerie's Le Samyn preview, and Velofocus' preview of Le Samyn.

Then there's the (non-vds) El Salvador races: three day races, Grand Prix San Bernard (6th March), Grand Prix San Miguel (7th March) and Grand Prix El Salvador (8th March) followed by the Vuelta Ciclista Femenina El Salvador, from 11th-16th March (you can read Velofocus' preview of the race here)

And looking to the future, the Women's Tour [of Britain] has announced some of the teams that will be racing there - amazingly, with a Great Britain team, which almost never happens!  Here's a video, too of British rider Hannah Barnes talking about what to expect from the race:

Hannah Barnes video message (via The Tour)

Talk about all these races, and any other women's cycling news or gossip you find in the comments!