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Team of the Week: Comeback Edition

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Looking back on the Women’s Tour

Like she never went away… Lizzie Deignan wins the Women’s Tour
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Races

The new-improved-now-with-added-climbing OVO Energy Women’s Tour (WWT 13). Plus the splendidly-named SPAR Flanders Diamond Tour, a pan-flat Belgian one-dayer.

Coverage

Highlights of the Women’s Tour. TotW rehearsed the reasons for the lack of live coverage last year. Sadly nothing much has changed.

Admirably, the Cycling Podcast produced a nightly show from the race, with some excellent rider interviews. A super-happy Liane Lippert trying to catch her breath after her stage four exertions is particularly worth a listen.

Riders

  1. Lizzie Deignan: Despite valiant sandbagging looked near her best in winning the Women’s Tour for the second time. Hanging in behind Niewiadoma on stage four, she beat heron stage five to take the overall lead by a second, a lead she doubled in an intermediate sprint on the final stage. Rivals will also note the crucial bonuses she picked up in the stage two crit. Strong, clever riding, sealing a successful comeback from maternity leave. Rider of the week.
  2. Kasia Niewiadoma [2]: Took a memorable stage victory on the uphill finish at Burton Dassett, where she was easily the outstanding rider on the punchy hills. Unable to shake off Deignan and Longo Borghini on the next day’s longer final climb, she lost out to Deignan’s superior sprint, finishing second on GC and with the QoM jersey.
  3. Jolien D’hoore [2]: Two sprint victories gave us a glimpse of what Boels’ spring might have looked like had D’hoore not broken her collar bone. The second, on the crash-marred third stage, was particularly impressive, with the Boels leadout train the only one not to disintegrate on the run-in to Blenheim Palace.
  4. Amy Pieters: A key member of that Boels train, Pieters got her own win on the final stage, also riding—rather stealthily—to third overall. The ‘most VDS points without a win’ title now passes to Boels teammate Annika Langvad. Lotte Kopecky.
  5. Liane Lippert: The only rider able to follow Niewiadoma on the Burton Dassett climbs, Lippert enjoyed a day in the green leader’s jersey before dropping back on the more sustained slopes of Epynt on stage five.
  6. Lorena Wiebes [5]: After trading wins with Elisa Balsamo in recent weeks, it was Wiebes’ turn again, this time in a crash-strewn finale at the Flanders Diamond Tour. Balsamo appears not to have been entirely convinced.

Team of the week

Boels looked like their old selves at the Women’s Tour, with three stage wins out of six and Pieters and Majerus third and fourth overall. Despite sending only four riders, Bigla also put up a decent effort, as Banks and Thomas both finished in the GC top ten.

After Elisa Long Borghini’s win at Bira, however, Trek-Segafredo once again showed what an effective stage-racing team they can be. If their one-two didn’t quite come off in Burton Dassett, Longo Borghini set up Lizzie Deignan perfectly the next day, and the team controlled the peloton on the final stage to secure Deignan’s victory overall. Though Hannah Barnes in particular worked hard for Niewiadoma, Canyon-SRAM didn’t have the same strength. For the third time, team of the week.

Irony of the week

Despite this edition of the Women’s Tour being easily the toughest—and in TotW’s view, the best—it was settled by the smallest margin in the race’s history. Bonuses still count in this race.

Small margins… Kasia Niewiadoma beats Liane Lippert to win stage four of the Women’s Tour
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Polemica of the week

Deignan’s renewed success has not pleased everyone.

Red faces of the week

TotW hopes Oxfordshire County Council feels suitably embarrassed by the giant pothole that caused the massive crash on stage three, taking out amongst others race leader Marianne Vos. Who knows how the later stages might have turned out without Vos’s early departure?

The pothole seems clearly visible on Google Streetview dating back to last September. Whether it had never been filled or recent bad weather had opened it up again is uncertain. Oxfordshire has a three-year deal to host the race. They may have some road maintenance to do before next year.

Lost and found

Differing from riders’ usual requests for missing sunglasses or power meters, Leah Kirchmann appealed for the return of a pearl earring lost in the stage three megacrash. Optimists may still be combing the Didcot verges.

Amy Pieters sprints to the win ahead of Leah Kirchmann on the final stage of the Women’s Tour
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Serious stuff

TotW is dismayed to read accusations of serious mistreatment brought by former members of the Health Mate team against its manager Patrick van Gansen. Van Gansen has rejected the allegations. This is an important test of the UCI’s updated Ethical Code, rewritten in the light of previous incidents. TotW expects the UCI to investigate promptly and where necessary take action to safeguard riders’ welfare.

FSA DS

Five VDS teams took a 30 point gamble on Lizzie Deignan’s comeback. The name of the leading Deignan team, Eric_vv’s Maybe not this year—currently 38th— suggests at least a degree of scepticism, possibly unwarranted if Lizzie carries on this way.

Kasia Niewiadoma keeps the Bethinhas top, though the Flanders Diamond Tour results may change that. Indeed, points for Wiebes and Kopecky mean that GWolcott’s South Shore Cycling are our new pre-Giro leaders.

Draft

Vlady has reclaimed the top spot from Yeehoo. Shawn and Kurt are vying for third place, but MOUA back in fifth has been given a boost by Deignan’s Women’s Tour victory.

WWT Predictor

Bit of a reduced peloton for the Women’s Tour. All credit to Frans Verbiage, the only player to correctly predict the race winner.

Next up: Giro Rosa (WWT 14) starting 5 July. Stick it in your calendars now. The Gavia is open, the riders are in training...