This week has been frustrating for women’s cycling. There have been three big stories that demonstrate the difficulties the sport is in – but you’d never know that, from looking at the cycling media
Last Sunday was the Tour of ChongMing Island World Cup, where the result was decided not by great racing, but by a human error, when the last corner wasn’t marked, taking the peloton off course in the last kilometres and allowing an opportunistic attacker, Tetyana Riabchenko, to win solo. Reports differ as to exactly what happened (here’s the ORICA-AIS report) everyone describes it as an unfortunate mistake by an otherwise excellent race organiser, and of course the peloton may not have caught Riabchenko – but it’s incredibly frustrating that one of the rounds of the World Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions of the year, ends this way.
Today was meant to be the start of the 6-stage Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon. This should be a UCI 2.2 race, and was billed at the beginning of the return of the Tour de l’Aude, which when it as cancelled in 2011, was one of only three women’s races allowed over a week by the UCI.
The race has a dodgy history. Last year it was cancelled just two weeks before it was due to start, but the organisers have been telling everyone it was due to go ahead this year…. until yesterday, when riders had arrived, or were in the air/on the road, when they were told it was cancelled. Then they were told to stick around because it *might* go ahead, or might be a shortened race…. it’s completely ridiculous. Yes, of course it’s hard to organise races, but it shows no respect at all to the riders and teams not to give them some warning, before they book travel, let alone before they arrive.
This is very important because the women’s teams don’t have enough cash to be wasting money on getting to the bottom of France, only to have to pay to go home again. And it’s key preparation for the only Grand Tour left, the Giro Rosa, and there aren’t other races to swap to. But it’s also important because of what it says about women’s cycling – and how the UCI and cycling media sees it. If you looked on the UCI’s website, or on Cyclingnews,
Velonation or Velonews right now, you’d find nothing about this – it’s not news. This is crazy! There are so many questions raised – like, what are the UCI going to do about the women’s calendar? Why do they give UCI rankings to races like this and the Exergy Tour, that are cancelled after the season starts, when there have been very clear signs that the organisations are in trouble? And yes, why will the news outlets go crazy about Wiggins talking about “riding like a girl” but won’t even mention that women are being prevented from riding?
Saturday Sunday 12th May, it’s the fifth round of the UCI Road World Cup, the Tour of ChongMing Islandin China. This is a race on the long, wide, flat roads of ChongMing Island in the Yangtze river, connected to Shanghai by the beautiful bridge and tunnel, and the race uses both.
It’s very definitely a race for the sprinters. The “mountains” point comes when they ride up the ramp onto the bridge, and the roads have meant while riders have dropped off the back, and there can be echelon-ing, it ends up in a bunch sprint. It is usually very rainy, though, and the wind can make it a very tough race indeed – certainly no easy ride, this one!
The website is mostly in Chinese, and google translate hates that, but there’s some information on the parcours in English in this report of the press conference (google translated into English) – but if you want some more on the race, Melissa Hoskins has a race preview on the ORICA-AIS website of the World Cup and and the Tour of ChongMing Island stage race, which ran 8th-12th May. Because the Island isn’t a large one, the stage race runs on a lot of the same roads. Here’s the video we’ve had of that so far, and much more info below the jump:
Thanks to everyone who gives us links – especially Bassface!
If you want to read about last week’s racing, check out my report on Total Women’s Cycling
Last week’s racing:
Every now and then, it’s shirt week around here – and as always I get no benefit from promoting these products, I just
covet like them!
You can buy team short- and long-sleeved jerseys, bib shorts and wind vest and jacket – and apparently they’ll have casual clothing to follow! It’s free worldwide shipping, and to celebrate the launch of the shop, they have a discount code:
To celebrate the opening of the store we are offering an introductory discount of 5%. Enter the coupon code “intro2013″ to receive this discount until May 4. An additional 5% of every purchase goes to our partners Right To Play or CycleKids. You can choose which one.
Apparently they have some teething problems right now (I assume it’s too popular!) so if you have any issues, check back with them later. And apparently they’ll have t-shirts and things like that (and maybe things for men) at a later date – but what a great way to show our support for the team!
From team kit to a company that supports women’s cycling…. I’m hesitant to mention this here, because I’m not sure Dan needs more merino temptation, but Vulpine.cc have launched their new range – including their full women’s range of merino loveliness. I’ve got their blue buttoned jersey and I love it (I wore it to the Flèche Wallonne, because those back pockets were perfect for my dictaphone, camera and camera film) – and I love the ways they support cycling, including the Matrix Fitness Racing Academy team (and their team launch!) – and I’ve already mentioned them as a cycling company that markets to women really well (they talk to me! To us!). So they now have an Alpine jersey, a t-shirt, a v-neck t-shirt, all in lovely merino, and some discount bundles on their women’s page. And you can see their new men’s stuff (if you’re not Dan) and their full shop here. They’re very friendly, and there’s free worldwide shipping!
Hitec before the Flèche Wallonne – Sarah Connolly
I was so incredibly lucky to spend the 2013 women’s Flèche Wallonne with the fantastic Hitec Products UCK. I’ve got some stories and galleries of photos about my adventures on Podium Café – part 1 is all about the race preparations, and part 2 is about seeing the race from the team car, and the post-race experience. You can also see more of my photos on flickr, and listen to Dan and me talk about it on our podcast.
For other people’s views of the race, Jane Aubrey reported on it for Cyclingnews and CJ Farquharson has a race report and photos on her womenscycling.net, and more photos on CJFoto and on Cyclingnews. There are team reports from ORICA-AIS, Argos-Shimano, a blog by Loren Rowney on the Specialized-lululemon site, a blog by Ashleigh Moolman on her first World Cup podium, and a blog about his first time at a women’s pro race from the head of Wiggle, Humphrey Cobbold.
And of course, there are videos – here are all the ones I’ve found so far. I’ll be posting interviews with Hitec riders next week – keep an eye out on the Podium Café women’s section. Massive, huge, enormous thanks to Karl Lima, Hitec’s manager, for organising such an amazing time – I loved every moment, and appreciate it totally!
Edit! Here are the first interviews – with Hitec’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Lotto-Belisol‘s Ashleigh Moolman, after the podium results – on Podium Café here. And here’s my interview with Rachel Neylan, on the race, and triumphing over adversity to win silver at Worlds.
Edit again! And my interview with Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen
I went to the women’s Flèche Wallonne World Cup with the amazing Hitec Products UCK, and had an amazing time in the team car and hanging out with the super-friendly and all-round delightful team. I’ll write more about it soon, but in the meantime, here are my photos, and the (pathetically small amount of) video we’ve got so far, starting with 2 minutes on Sporza (please click through so they know we want more), and the UCI videos. Firstly the small clip produced by Ben Atkins (note the creative approaches to making a film without any footage from the tv station…)
On Wednesday 17th April, it’ll be the 2013 Flèche Wallonne Femmes (aka Waalse Pijl), one of the biggest day races of the year. Remember last year, when it looked like Marianne Vos would win her fifth title, until Evie Stevens overtook her with metres to go? Damn, but that was great racing!
2013 is the 16th edition of the women’s race, and it’s the fourth round of the Road World Cup – and one of those time where a women race alongside the men’s race – and you could easily argue that the women’s course is more interesting. Bear in mind the UCI limit the distance the women can race to 140km, racing two laps of the long Huy to Huy loop the men race too - 131.5km – with two ascents (including the finish, of course) on the beautiful, crazy, wonderful Mur de Huy – 1.3km at an average of 9.3%, getting to 19% in places. Want to know what it’s like to ride? Before I tell you anything else, watch the Australian former World Number 1, Anna Millward, interviewed in 2009 as she climbs it!
I’m coming to the end of my photography degree – it’s been a long road, because I’m part-time, and I took a step back from the career I had at the time to go back to university, so it’s a strange, transitional stage of my life. One of the things we have to do is a “Professional Practice” – which isn’t just about photography – it’s also about other work we do/careers we want. For example, I’ve been using my cycling writing. This is something for university, so I don’t expect you to read it – but if you want to, here it is!