TotW confesses to having got up too late to catch live feeds from China but is pleased they existed. Highlights here. Good stuff from Elsy Jacobs c/o the Motomedia team (and the excellent Luxembourg 4G network; evidently not so many mobile phone mast-rejecting nimbys in those particular hills). Somewhat eccentrically-edited fixed cam highlights (with added dramatic music) for Trofee Maarten Wynants.
- Lorena Wiebes : Back to bunch sprints at Chongming Island after last year’s aberration. Never before has the same rider won all three stages, however. Ok, so Kirsten Wild wasn’t there, but it’s hard to think of any other rider who could challenge Wiebes on this kind of course. Rider of the week.
- Lisa Brennauer : Finished second in the Elsy Jacobs prologue, bided her time in the first stage, then sprinted to stage and overall victory from a depleted peloton in stage two. Textbook stuff from the pre-race favourite.
- Demi Vollering : Followed a stellar Ardennes by winning the prologue in Luxembourg, putting up a spirited defence of the leader’s jersey until Brennauer beat her on time bonuses on the final stage.
- Elisa Balsamo: Beaten last week in Borsele by Wiebes—a reversal of last year’s result—Balsamo took advantage of her absence at Trofee Maarten Wynants to get her first win of the season.
- Lizzy Banks: ‘Woaaaaaah! What just happened??!’ tweeted Banks after Elsy Jacobs stage 2, where she’d initiated a five-woman counter-attack then pushed its survivors to the line, just ahead of the on-rushing favourites. CCC’s Marta Lach won the stage, but Banks rode herself onto the GC podium and managed to stay there, a great follow-up to her Tour de Yorkshire exploits.
- Jutatip Maneephan: Racing in both Europe and South East Asia the Thai rider has picked up a few VDS points over the years, but two stage seconds and runner-up overall at Chongming Island represents her best return.
Team of the Week
For a while it looked as if Parkhotel Valkenburg might make simultaneous successful defences of leaders’ jerseys on two continents. Then WNT-Rotor came along, shredding the peloton on the final stage of Elsy Jacobs and setting up Lisa Brennauer for the win, seeing off a dangerous late attack by Riejanne Markus in the process. With a 10s win bonus on the line, Demi Vollering’s 7s GC lead going into the final stage was probably never enough but her team were put under constant pressure by WNT’s aggressive riding. Team of the week. Again.
Shoulder Shrug of the Week
Caught between a Worlds-recce edition of the Tour de Yorkshire and big races in California and Spain, this week’s racing had a slightly squeezed feel. In particular, several big teams didn’t return to Elsy Jacobs, most notably Boels, who left Luxembourg champ Christine Majerus to lead a youngish national side. (She was their only finisher. TotW was pleased to see the Majerus bobble hat make another podium appearance though.)
TotW has mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it would be nice for longstanding race organisers to get the strongest field possible. On the other, all three races had decent winners and the racing at Elsy Jacobs seemed as competitive as ever. TotW also enjoyed seeing riders like stage winner Marta Lach or breakaway heroine Franziska Koch—riding her Sunweb bike, despite having delayed joining them till the summer due to injury—make a mark.
Photo of the week
Oh why not link to the same pic twice, if it’s a good one… :-)
And Another Thing
TotW is amused by apparent attempts—evidently backed by the UCI— to circumvent the UCI’s restrictions on women’s stage racing by quasi-merging the Vårgårda races, the Ladies Tour of Norway and new Danish racing into one ten-stage ‘Battle of North’ WWT race. (Grammatically speaking, TotW would probably like a ‘the’ in there.) Certainly, some riders seem excited. The giddy ‘Women’s Tour de France in Scandinavia’ tag is perhaps stretching it a bit, mind.
Wiebes, Kopecky and Balsamo have reinstated Vlaanderen 90’s Yas Queen! at the top of the league. Last week’s leader bsmashers is pushed down to third by GWolcott’s South Shore Cycling, propelled upwards by Wiebes, Kopecky and Riejanne Markus. In a resounding triumph for collective ignorance, points for Vollering, Banks, Lach, Koch and Maneephan all go unclaimed.
Awaiting post-TdY updates. Vlady, though, has Lotte Kopecky, whose points from Chongming Island should probably see him right.
Chongming. Fail. Let’s try again with the Tour of California (from Thursday), eh.