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What do top women riders think about the 2014 Worlds Road Race course?

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I've been wondering what some of the best riders in the world think about the Ponferrada 2014 Road World Champs.... so exclusively for the Café, I asked them some very quick questions. Responses below - and if you're new to women's cycling and not sure to cheer for, I've got some tips at the bottom.

Lisa Brennauer, on her way to win the 2014 ITT World Championships
Lisa Brennauer, on her way to win the 2014 ITT World Championships
Bryn Lennon

Lisa Brennauer

Lisa is having a fantastic Worlds, winning gold in the Team Time Trial and then in a super-dramatic Individual Time Trial finale (click through for videos).   The German national team will be so strong, with climber Claudia Lichtenberg, Classics star and perpetual "Most Aggressive rider" Trixi Worrack, and super-domestiques Romy Kasper and Charlotte Becker.... and Lisa, who's been in breaks and attacks and on podiums all year - so how's she feeling?

PdC: Congratulations - TTT World Champion and now ITT - how did  it feel at the time?

Lisa: Great. Both races were fantastic rides and I am really happy!

PdC: And how does it feel now, a few days later?

Lisa: I couldn't believe it at first but now some days later I realize it's true! I feel quite relaxed and relieved.

PdC: How did you manage to make up the time in that last part of the race?  It was incredible to watch!

Lisa: I knew that it's going to be a tight fight in the end so I just had to squeeze out everything I had left. The climb in the end didn't suit everyone but for me it was definitely a key point.

PdC: What do you think the road race course will be like?

Lisa: It's a pretty hard course and I expect a very hard day of racing of course. Sometimes World Championship races have a special character. We'll see how that will turn out on Saturday.

PdC: What's your role on Saturday and how are you feeling about the race?

Lisa: I'm pretty relaxed. In fact I have nothing to lose here, right? We bring a strong group to the start and will approach the race optimistically.

Follow Lisa on her twitter - and here's one of the post-race videos, with great photos in it

***

Marianne Vos

One rider who'll start with a ton of pressure is current World Champion and twelve-time WC across road, cyclocross and track, Marianne Vos.  Vos has never come less than second in the World Champs (wow!) but this year will be hard as two of the top Dutch riders, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, are out injured after that awful crash in the TTT.

PdC: What do you think of the course?

Marianne: The lap doesn't look as hard as last year in Florence, but in the end you will feel the 2000 hm of climbing in the legs. As the passage though the city and the descents are quite technical, there is not much time to recover.

PdC: Do you think it's like any of the other courses on the calendar?

Marianne: Difficult to compare courses, but if I should pick something, then it would be a combination of Plouay and Vårgårda.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Marianne: Being able to race for your country and perform at the highest level of your sport. This is the race you do it all for as an athlete.

PdC: And the worst?

Marianne: Well, it's a one day race and anything can happen. This is a good thing, but can also turn out the other way.

PdC: How are you feeling about Saturday?  The Dutch team has taken some knocks, what's the team atmosphere like?

Marianne: Of course we had some knocks, but being together the last week, I feel we are ready for the race. The atmosphere is still quite relaxed, but we want to show what we can do.

With last year's ITT World Champion and this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Ellen van DijkChantal Blaak and Lucinda Brand, who won the Vårgårda and Plouay World Cups respectively, Amy Pieters and Roxane Knetemann, who were both on the Vårgarda podium, super-tough rouleurs Iris Slappdenal and Thalita de Jong and u23 European Champions Sabrina Stultiens, the team still one of the very best in the World, that's how strong the Dutch are!  And if the course is like Plouay and Vårgårda mixed together, they're pretty perfect for it - especially as Vos has won there twice, and was second this year. And speaking of the team, there are a couple of riders racing the Road Race for the first time, including...

Iris Slappendel

PdC: What do you think of the course?

Iris: In my opinion it's a hard course. Not a typical climbers course like last year but anyway a lot of altimeters. I'm sure the strongest girls will be left over to race for the win at the end.

PdC: Do you think it's like any of the other courses on the calendar?

Iris: Not really no, maybe most like Plouay.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Iris: Racing worlds for the Netherlands is already the best! And it's the most important race of the year. People can do something extra at a championship and the ambiance is great.

PdC: And the worst?

Iris: Nerves.

PdC: The Dutch team has had some bad luck - how's the team atmosphere, and how are you all feeling about Saturday?

Iris: The atmosphere is good. Of course it sucks that we are gonna miss 2 super important riders. But we are all in shape and looking forward to the race. We've been pretty relaxed up until now!

Follow Marianne and Iris on their twitters, and click through the big links for their sites

***

Tiffany Cromwell

I am so excited to see what Tiffany will do here - she was on the Plouay podium last year, and she's been attacking all year, never stopping - this would be such an amazing race for that to finally pay off this year!

PdC: What do you think of the course?

Tiffany: I like it a lot, it’s hard, it will be a race of attrition suited to a power climber type rider. There’s a lot of possible options for places to attack and it will take a tough rider to win I think.

PdC: Do you think it's like any of the other courses on the calendar?

Tiffany: It has similarities to a couple of courses on the calendar, The characteristics of Plouay probably are the closest to this course with the climbs and flat sections but are still a bit different and also a similar feel to the Australian nationals course in a way.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Tiffany: The atmosphere, the honour of racing for your country and knowing it is the last race of the season to put everything out on the road with nothing to save and a huge prize at the finish line if everything comes together on the day and knowing you don’t have to get on your bike the next day.

PdC:
And the worst?

Tiffany: There isn’t anything.

PdC: Is it different, racing with all Australians than with your trade team?  What's best/worst about it?

Tiffany: Of course it's different but it's nice. Best way to describe it is that it's just different. They actually understand me when I speak and when you crack an 'Aussie' joke they actually get it. Good banter.

It's nice to compete with your fellow Country people, the buzz in the hotel too with everyone together in the 'green and gold'. It's nice. Nothing worst about it.


PdC: How are you feeling about Saturday?

Tiffany: Good, confident and ready to give it everything I have. Excited!

Here's an interview with Tiffany on Cyclingnews.

The Aussie national team has some great climbers on it - Rachel Neylan, who won silver in 2012, Katrin Garfoot, Carlee Taylor, "comeback kid" Lizzie Williams, and one non-climby type...

Loren Rowney

PdC: So, what's the course like?

Loren: I would describe it as a combination between the Plouay World Cup course, and maybe the Aussies Nationals course. A tough, fast circuit, that will be ultimately a race of attrition. I suspect a small group of no more than 10 will go to the finish.

PdC: What's your role going to be on Saturday?  and how are you feeling?

Loren: I've come off a big racing block, finishing with Ardeche. So I'm feeling strong at the moment, and have had a fair bit of rest coming in to the championships. We haven't had the official race meeting, but what I will tell you is I plan to go as far, and deep in to the race as I can.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Loren: The green and gold jersey. Racing for your country is what inspires all athletes to dream big and make it happen. Also the cameradarie among the Aussie team. It's a very special feeling being among all your countrymen and women, all with the same goal, we want the rainbow stripes.

PdC: And the worst?

Loren: It's the biggest race of year, so there's a lot on the line. The pressure is on to perform, and it's just one day...so everything has to come together on that one day!

PdC: Why should everyone cheer for the Aussies?

Loren: We're a team that leaves everything out there no matter what. We haven't come all this way from the land down under to just make up numbers. And let's face it, the Aussies are always the life of the party where ever they go.

***

Audrey Cordon

It's going to be very interesting to see how the French play this.  Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is a former Junior World Road Race Champion (and twice Junior MTB Champ) who's had the road season of her young life, winning the Flèche Wallonne and coming second and Best Young Rider in the Giro - and I am so excited to see how she'll ride with Cordon, because Cordon's on-road partnership with Italian (and Worlds favourite) Elisa Longo Borghini has been one of my farvourite team dynamics of the year.  Cordon is such an attacking, fun rider, a great selfless team-mate who will take every chance for her own win.

PdC: What do you think of the course?

Audrey: It's an hard lap, that will be a tough and tactical race. You always have to be well-positioned, I can compare it with Plouay.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Audrey: Of course it's the most important race of the calendar but it's also an honour to represent your Country.

PdC: And the worst?

Audrey: The worst..... Maybe to have all the Dutch riders on the same team...!!! hahaha

PdC: How are you feeling about Saturday?

Audrey: I'm feeling better than Tuesday, I was so disappointed after my TT.  Now I'm trying to focus on the road and on our chances to do something good with France.

Follow Audrey on her twitter.

***

Leah Kirchmann

The young Canadian has had an incredible season, with highs incuding winning the national ITT, Crit and Road national championships in the same weekend, and then coming thrid in the most hyped race of the year, La Course by Le Tour de France, on the Champs Elysées.  She's been racing mostly on the North American domestic scene with Optum, who were fourth in the TTT.

PdC: What do you think of the course?  Do you think it's like any of the other courses on the calendar?

Leah: It's a great course, I love the super fast and winding descents! All of the climbing will definitely not make it an easy race. I think the course is most similar to the Plouay World cup.

PdC: What's the best thing about racing Worlds?

Leah: The opportunity to be crowned World champion!
Also, the race always receives some of the best television and media coverage of the season.

PdC: And the worst?

Leah: Your trade team teammates are the enemy for the day.

PdC: How are you feeling about Saturday?

Leah: I'm confident in Canada's strength as a team going into the race. Between Karol-Ann, Joëlle, Lex and myself, we have a good mix of climbing and sprint strength on the team, giving us several cards to play in the race.

PdC:
You've had a great year, winning National Crit, ITT and Road Race in the same weekend, and then coming third in La Course - what's the best thing 2014 has taught you?

Leah: Thanks, I couldn't have asked for a better season! This year has taught me to never set limits for myself, and to not be afraid of setting ambitious goals.

Leah's on twitter here - follow her too!

***

Want to see more of the course?  It was the Junior Women's Road Race today, and here are the highlights - with the full replay on the UCI's youtube

and here's the winner, Amalie Dideriksen, taking about the race

***

The women's World Championships road race starts at 14:00 Euro CEST (1pm UK BST; 10pm Aussie AEST; 8am USA EDT; 5am USA PDT) and the startlist is here.  We'll have a livethread right here on Podium Café with links to streams if it's not on your tv - and if you're not sure who to cheer for, as you're new to the sport, I can help - people have been telling me their favourite male riders, and I've been giving them female Equivalents from the women's side.  Part 1, with equivalents for Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Tommy Voeckler, "nice" riders, Nico Roche and David Millar; and Part 2, with equivalents for Jack Bauer, Peter Sagan, Tony Martin and Tom Staniford.

If you want to catch up on all the women's Worlds action so far, omnevelnihil and I have a (sweary) podcast about it here, with links in the post - and we're currently running a survey looking at women's cycling and coverage, and we'd love it if you could fill it in, if you've got any level of interest in women's racing, even if it's just once a year. You only need to answer the questions you like the look of!