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Team of the Week: Up Hill and Down Dale Edition

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The Week in Women’s Racing

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PA Images via Getty Images

Races

Fair to middling stage racing in Yorkshire, New Mexico and the Czech Republic.

Coverage

Old school piecing together via social media for Gracia Orlová and the Tour of the Gila.

Magnifique for the Tour de Yorkshire (ignoring the weather-based dropouts and ITV4’s endless ads for funeral plans). After the Ardennes debacle (and associated half-hearted ‘justifications’) the TdY showed what ASO can do when prodded by willing local organisers, broadcasters and sponsors. By way of thanks, TotW rose from its sick bed to brave the Metrocentre Asda and is glued to ITV4 repeats of The Sweeney for the rest of the week.

Riders

  1. Marianne Vos [2]: One of the greats winning the TdY on the Scarborough seafront makes TotW all sentimental. After a hard-chasing Ardennes, this was Vos in full jacket-unzipping, arm warmers-off, elbow-flicking patronne mode. From a cooperative front group of three, battling the Yorkshire elements, there was only ever going to be one winner. Rider of the Week.
  2. Brodie Chapman: While it stayed flattish the Tour of the Gila was a tussle between Chapman and Chloe Dygert. Dygert couldn’t compete on the climby final stage, however, and Chapman took the stage and the GC by over a minute. Excellent follow-up to her top ten at Flèche-Wallonne.
  3. Lorena Wiebes [3]: We know she wins a lot but so far we’ve hardly seen her do it. Here she was live on tv, utterly dominant, powering past her rivals to win the slightly uphill TdY stage one sprint in Bedale.
  4. Mavi Garcia: Made the defining attack of TdY stage 2 on Lythe Bank, leading solo before being joined by Vos and Soraya Paladin, then working with them to a second place on the stage and overall. Entertaining attempts to inveigle Vos to the front, too.
  5. Soraya Paladin: Not quite grasping the Yorkshire adage ‘if tha does owt for nowt tha does it for thasen,’ Paladin’s was the wheel to follow over the North York Moors. Lizzie Deignan couldn’t stick with her, but when she bridged to race leader Mavi Garcia Vos made no mistake. It’s not like she didn’t get anything herself: third on both stage and GC added to a super-strong season so far.
  6. Christine Majerus: Second in Bedale, the only rider except Vos to challenge for the TdY race lead on both days. After a slight struggle on the stage two climbs, she found herself in a chasing group with Hannah Barnes and Amanda Spratt, and doing most of the work. Irritatingly, Spratt took off on the run in to Scarborough but Majerus beat her—just!—on the line, taking fourth overall and the points jersey.

Honourable Mentions

The class rider in the field, Marta Bastianelli crushed Gracia Orlová in probably the least surprising result of the season. Maria Novolodskaya wore the leader’s jersey for an afternoon after the TT stage. Jens’s VDS heroine Julie Van De Velde also put up an (admittedly limited) degree of opposition.

Special shout for Bigla’s Lizzy Banks, ultra-attacking first stage QoM winner at the TdY, followed by a spirited defence the next day when she finished 9th on GC. A former Sheffield University medical student, Banks’s first ‘proper race’ was the women’s TdY back when it was a paltry crit. She, and it, have come a long way.

Team of the Week

Tricky one, this. Virtu took every stage at Gracia Orlová (Bastianelli 2, Kröger 2, Neylan 1) but against weak opposition you’d probably expect them to. Boels dutifully won the team prize at the TdY. But TotW is sticking its neck out and going for Movistar at the same race. After a (somewhat perfunctory) team appearance at the front of the chase, Roxane Fournier finished 4th on stage one, followed by Mavi Garcia’s podium heroics the next day. No está mal.

Handwaving of the week

Fun moment in TdY stage one where Mitchelton, having fallen into their habitual well-drilled chasing mode, pretty much stopped and marshalled Parkhotel Valkenburg to the front. Evidently they realised they had been mainly ferrying a terrifyingly strong Lorena Wiebes to the finish…

PA Images via Getty Images

Exhortation of the Week

TotW also enjoyed the camera moto picking up Lauren Kitchen’s full-throated encouragements to her breakaway companions: ‘If you wanna make this work you gotta go!’ Though the break was caught with 3k to go, Kitchen was rewarded with her height in Black Sheep beer, provoking further shouting in the FDJ team car. Beats a Yorkshire pudding crown any day.

Speaking of headgear…

Chapeau of the Week

The flat cap worn by Drops’ Abby-Mae Parkinson pre-stage in Bridlington. (TotW has yet to find a picture of a rider with a whippet.) Runner-up prize for Christine Majerus’s podium bobble hat.

FSA DS

The combination of Marta Bastianelli and Soraya Paladin has put bsmashers’ Arya Stark Rising back on top. Soraya Paladin—along with Brodie Chapman—has also lifted WzK to second. Which suggests that contrary to the team name—i have no idea what im doing. season 5—he or she does.

Draft

Collective Ignorance currently leads, which is probably about right, but even before the Bastianelli-dominated Gracia-Orlová results are in Vlady is still top actual player.

WWT Predictor

Resumes with a battle over obscure sprinters at the Tour of Chongming Island, starting 9 May.