Highlights. With decent amounts of action. (Don’t worry ‘atmosphere in the team parking’ fans, there’s a bit of that too.) Cali. Burgos. Well-intentioned social media of varying degrees of usefulness/hilarity. (TotW is harsh: it’s not entirely their fault connectivity in the California mountains isn’t up to Luxembourg standards.)
- Anna van der Breggen : To near universal cheers attacked lone leader Olga Zabelinskaya with 5km to go on stage one of the Tour of California, then soloed home into a stiff headwind for the win. It was no surprise when she (along with Katie Hall) emerged from the no-signal fog towards the top of Mount Baldy the next day. Back to dominance, and rider of the week.
- Katie Hall: In truth TotW would’ve liked to have seen last year’s GC winner Hall up against the year before’s winner Van der Breggen, instead of both being on the same team. No one else could keep up with them on Mount Baldy, where Hall set the pace then took the win as they crossed the line together.
- Soraya Paladin : Foiled by a lack of bonuses and some debatable adjudication of time gaps, Paladin won two stages at Burgos but was pipped on combined placings for the overall, even if she was mistakenly presented with the leader’s jersey at one point. Having risen to the challenge of team leadership, her superb spring goes on.
- Stine Borgli: Take nothing away from the GC winner. Borgli rode consistently, matching Paladin on the climbs. Following a GC top ten at Festival Elsy Jacobs last week, the 28 year old Norwegian seems to be grabbing her opportunities with both hands.
- Elisa Balsamo : Having won the sprint behind Van der Breggen on stage one, Balsamo took the final stage at the Tour of California from a reduced bunch, just the kind of tough race that seems to suit her. (Coryn Rivera, alas, was hit by a mechanical just before the finish.)
- Lourdes Oyarbide: Though Mavi Garcia kept pace with the Burgos GC, home team Movistar vaguely gave the impression of keeping their powder dry for Bira next week. Oyarbide’s solo win in the final stage—finishing a minute ahead of the field in Villarcayo—was their highlight.
Team of the week
Boels steamrollered the first two stages of the Tour of California, then fought off concerted, if belated, attacks from dangerous riders—most notably Brodie Chapman—on the final stage. Normal service is resumed. Team of the week. A nod to Ale Cipollini, who won three out of four stages at Burgos with Paladin and Karlijn Swinkels but couldn’t snare that overall.
Comeback(s) of the week
Star of the early season with her win at Setmana Valenciana, Clara Koppenburg was fourth up Mount Baldy and overall in California, after coming back from surgery for saddle sores. TotW can only marvel—and, of course, sympathise. Ashleigh Moolman, who reached third on the podium, was also returning from a back injury sustained at Amstel Gold.
Prize of the week
Cock-up in figuring out the race leader aside, TotW rather liked the Vuelta a Burgos, a race which has expanded significantly this year and with ambitions for the future. TotW hopes the local touches remain, however. Winners on the stage two podium were literally worth their salt, rewarded with produce from the aptly-named host town Poza de la Sal.
(TotW has nothing to say about ASO, RTBF, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège or the UCI.)
Jauntymonty won Cali with Van der Breggen, Hall and Koppenburg for his or her Bubbles of Silence team (given the communication difficulties a highly appropriate name). Everyone who has Soraya Paladin won Burgos. No one has Stine Borgli. Vlaanderen90 still has the lead.
As of Elsy Jacobs Vlady is still in the leader’s jersey. Soraya Paladin is maintaining Yeehoo’s challenge, however, and in third MOUA has points pending from Katie Hall.
About time Mr Verbiage got another win. Cali is his, and with it the overall lead. Vlady is hovering in second, however.
Next up: Bira (starts Wednesday).