Sigh! So exciting! Two of the final three rounds of the 2014 Road World Cup, within three days.
Given it's exactly the same course as forever, I'm going to point you elsewhere to find out what they're riding - for example, my Podium Café previews of the Vårgårda races from 2012 and 2013, or to Velofocus' previews of the Team Time Trial and the Road Race on his site. Instead of repeating myself, what I'm going to talk about today is what's happened in the past, with videos, and how to watch it this year. Are you excited? I am!
Team Time Trial World Cup, 22nd August 2014
This is the only comparable TTT to the Worlds, so it's always fun - and in the six years that it's run, there have only been 2 winners - the Cervélo Test Team from 2008-2010, and Specialized-lululemon (HTC-Highroad) from 2011-13.
Is it time for a change? The Spec-lulus may have gone through some big roster changes this year, but they still won the only UCI-level TTT this year, the 15km Energiewacht Tour Stage 3b... But ORICA-AIS were 3rd last year in Vårgårda and Worlds, and have been training hard, while Boels-Dolmans were second in EWT, and have mainstray of Speclulu's TTT squad, Ellen van Dijk... and right at the start of the year, Marianne Vos put down her marker, saying she wants to win 3 World titles this year, including the TTT, and Rabo-Liv have been training hard, as these videos show...
We can't watch this one live, but we can follow it live-ish - here's my guide (the tl;dr is there'll be live updates on the awesome Vårgårda.nu and via my twitter-list). Here's my favourite ever video from the TTT:
Road Race World Cup, 24th August 2014
It's a lap race, 12 laps of 11km, the same loop with a hill and tight corners that is in the TTT... and it really has been won in a ton of ways since 2-time World Champion Susanne Ljungskog won in 2006. Here's what happened in previous years....
2007: Chantal Beltman and Karin Thürig ended up in a two-woman break for the last 50km, with a 7-woman break chasing them (including Vos in her first elite season!). Beltman won by 32 seconds, with Noemi Cantele winning the race for third out of the chasers, 2:57 later.
2008: Another 2-woman break - this time 2 from the USA, Kori Kelley-Seehafer outsprinting Kimberley Anderson for the win, Charlotte Becker coming third out of a group of four, 1:10 later.
2010: Another bunch sprint, and this time it was Wild, despite Vos' escape attempt on the final lap - with Adrie Visser 2nd and Johansson 3rd. Video!
2011: If you look at the results it looked like another bunch sprint, but that's SO misleading! A 7 rider group including Annemiek van Vleuten, Ellen van Dijk, Nicole Cooke and Iris Slappendel had been in a major move at 3.5 laps to go, and AvV attacked repeatedly – really thrilling finale, as the peloton caught the group within the final kilometre, but at that point AvV, EvD and Cooke had started their sprint, so finished just a hair’s breadth ahead, in that order – Ina-Yoko Teutenberg 4th, as HTC had lead the chase.
2012: Attack, attack, attack, especially from Iris Slappendel, who forced a break in lap 3, ending with 11 riders including Vos, Johansson, Tiffany Cromwell, Evelyn Stevens, Shelley Olds - and Hanka Kupfernagel, who after Slappendel and everyone else had attacked, was the only one who could follow when Slappendel attacked again just before the final lap started. After the pair worked together, Hanka attacked at the end, but Iris caught and passed her to win her first World Cup - Vos winning the sprint for third. Race report and video:
2013: I still say this was one of the highlights of my 2013 - one of those times where a "safe" escape group suddenly becomes anything but, as the likes of Lizzie Armitstead, Lucinda Brand and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot joined them, and then Vos, Johansson, Stevens, Van Dijk, Amy Pieters, Giorgia Bronzini and Anna van der Breggen, so the front group was the race. Endless attacks meant that by lap 8 there were 9 riders, and then on the penultimate lap attacks on the hills pared it to 5, and attacks on the final climb meant it was Vos, Johansson and Pieters, Van Dijk catching them on the crazy run-in to the town, but Vos taking the final corner in Vos-style, winning with Johansson 2nd and Pieters 3rd. Exhilarating! Race report and video:
So, what's it going to be like this year? Put your bets into the comments! We haven't had a win from a 100km solo breakaway yet, have we? Cycling Fever, as always, have the best startlist, and there's more info on the race website.
For a reminder of what's at stake, here's the World Cup standings after the Sparkassen Giro
1. Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans, 420 (prev 1st)
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, 295 (prev 2nd)
3. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, 240 (prev 4th)
4. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Rabo, 238 (prev 3rd)
5. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda, 225 (Prev 10th)
6. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Liv-Shimano, 216 (prev 7th)
7. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, 215 (prev 5th)
8. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra) Rabo, 200 (prev 6th)
9. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo, 170 (prev 20th)
10. Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini) 160 (prev 9th)
So, how to watch? This will be streamed live on the UCI Youtube from 10:40 Euro CEST (9:40am UK BST; 6:40pm Australia AEST; 5:40am USA EST; 2:40am USA PST) and also shown on Swedish tv channel SVT. And you can follow the live updates on Vårgårda.nu and my twitter-list.... and of course we'll have a livethread here on the Café! I'll be chatting about the race on twitter, too - tell me how wrong I am at @_pigeons_!
Please do add any tweets, video, thoughts and stuff to the comments. The Trophée d'Or (one of the invisible races) starts on Saturday, and we can talk about it here too - there's as much info as you'll find anywhere about it on Cycling Fever. And don't forget, it's not just this week's World Cup that's live - next week's GP de Plouay will be streamed live too. Feeling spoiled yet? I am!