Pre-Women’s Tour SSR pick ’n’ mix: the revivified Tour de Bretagne Féminin; GP and Chrono Gatineau in Canada; and one-dayers in Belgium (Dwars door de Westhoek) and the Netherlands (Omloop van de IJsseldelta).
Credit to the Gatineau organisers for live streaming their races, even with the occasional hiccup due to signal dropout. Elsewhere, whatever you could catch via social media. There’s a stark difference between a race like Thüringen which provides comprehensive updates and copious images despite a lack of live coverage, and a race like Bretagne which, despite good intentions, at times was almost invisible. At least they had an emoji, TotW concedes. Oh, and highlights.
- Jess Roberts: No stranger to giantkilling after her shock British National Championships win last year, Roberts claimed an even bigger scalp in Brittany with a sprint win over Kirsten Wild, practically unbeatable on the flat this season. As if that wasn’t enough she won the next stage solo, foxing Wild who apparently thought she’d won when she sprinted for second. For the audacity as much as anything, Rider of the Week.
- Audrey Cordon-Ragot : Rather less unexpectedly, won her home tour outright with a strong TT and bonuses collected along the way, her second win of a terrific season so far.
- Leah Kirchmann: Over in Canada, Kirchmann won GP Gatineau from a reduced bunch sprint on a slightly uphill finish, then put up a decent performance to finish second behind Amber Neben in the next day’s TT.
- Marta Tagliaferro: Jess Roberts wasn’t the only giantkiller this week. In a wind-blasted Omloop van de IJsseldelta where the peloton splintered all over the road, Tagliaferro won from a front group of ten survivors that included defending champion and pre-race favourite Lorena Wiebes. Only 28 riders finished the race.
- Elisa Balsamo : TotW has been waiting patiently for a Wild-Wiebes sprint rematch, but in the meantime Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo also seem to have a bit of a rivalry going on. Wiebes beat Balsamo at Borsele a few weeks ago; Balsamo got her own back beating Wiebes at Dwars door de Westhoek.
- Kirsten Wild : Maybe it was extra effort of winning on the steeper than expected first stage finish that did for Wild later in the Tour de Bretagne, but she still came away with two stage wins, the points jersey and second overall. Pas mal.
Team of the Week
Hard to judge with so little live racing, but TotW sticks its pin in France, who took two out of three GC podium places in Brittany, with Cordon-Ragot and Juliette Labous winning the overall and U23 jerseys respectively.
Youth Team of the Week
Young riders were prominent enough in Brittany to form a TotW all of their own. As well as Roberts and Labous, Bigla’s Mikayla Harvey won the stage 3 time trial, Clara Copponi and Marie Le Net finished in the top ten overall, and Roberts’ GB teammate Lauren Dolan made the top ten on several stages.
Sentimental Moment of the Week
TotW was intrigued to see Audrey Cordon-Ragot politely insisting to the French cycling federation that the feminine of coureurs [riders] should be coureures rather than the more grammatically orthodox coureuses. The latter appears to have (the usual) unfortunate implications.
Look Askance of the Week
First blood’s been drawn in the upcoming clash between the first women’s edition of San Sebastian and the glorified crit known as Ride London, with Annemiek van Vleuten pointedly praising the rumoured San Sebastian course for its similarity to the men’s race and making clear she wants to race there. TotW is actually quite relaxed about races clashing. Sprinters in the peloton will still be queueing up for Ride London (though if the course there were anything like the men’s it might be a different story).
As the women’s sport grows, it’s inevitable that races will take place simultaneously and riders will pick and choose a calendar to suit their strengths. It’s happening already. The latest edition of the Cycling Podcast Féminin queries the absence of Anna and Annemiek from the Women’s Tour peloton, despite the new improved ‘harder’ parcours. But caught between Bira and Cali and the Giro, it kind of makes sense. (Soraya Paladin is another notable absentee.) TotW thinks we are past the stage where we can expect every top rider to turn out for every big race. More concerning, perhaps, are the teams who only send four riders to an important WWT race.
Do we finally have an established leader? The Glorious Bethinhas top the table for the third week running. Still less than 200 points ahead, however. So there is hope for other teams.
With results in up to the Winston-Salem Classic, it’s still a closely fought battle between Yeehoo and Vlady, with everyone else trailing behind in a kind of best-of-the-rest sub-league. And who’s leading that? Why, the Zombie Kittens, of course!
The Women’s Tour (WWT 13) starts tomorrow. No, today. 10:30am BST. Get those predictions in. Now. Right now.