You might have already listened to my podcast talking about my experiences working on the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, one of the biggest women’s cycling events of the year – and we’re still on the same theme, because I’ve also interviewed Guy Elliott, who works for SweetSpot as one of the race controllers. We talked about the highs and lows of this year’s race, how it compared to last year, and Guy answered questions sourced from twitter as well. I probably laugh too much, and we definitely get confused about which breakaway was on which stage (sorry Stage 1 escapees!) but in our defense, we’re still in that post-Tour giddy zone!
Listen to the podcast interview here (Right click, save-as to download)
If you want to follow Guy on twitter, he’s here – and you can find out more about SweetSpot, who run the race, on their website, youtube and instagram. Of course, make sure you follow the Aviva Women’s Tour on their website, twitter, and like them on facebook (can we get them to over 5,000 likes?). Want to show their sponsors that women’s cycling has an audience? Click on the Aviva Women’s Tour partner page, and click through to each of their sponsors (buy some Soreen malt loaf, Adnam’s beer, or even a Skoda car, you won’t regret it!).
Earlier in the week I interviewed Matrix Fitness DS Stefan Wyman about the new UCI races and how the changes to the calendar impact on his team, but that’s a small team and I’ve been wondering about how different it is for the top 10 UCI-ranked teams. So I asked Martin (Marv) Barras, the DS of ORICA-AIS about how he found out about the “surprise” races, and how it impacted on his team, and his answers are so good that I’m just going to share what he wrote, unembellished:
I received a first communication from the Tour of California to gauge our interest in the event in mid December 2014, which was followed up by an invitation in mid January. Most of the other new USA UCI events I found out through the cycling press (I did receive a contact from the new organisers of the Philly World Cup in Mid February after they were appointed). The same applies to the South African event (I am only aware of 1 race, last week end Hibiscus).
On one hand it is great that Women’s Cycling is seeing this sort of growth into new areas and it is to be expected that this can happen on short notice, such is the budding nature of the discipline.
There’s been a lot of talk this week about the various races that have gained UCI status at short notice, and with it the chance to win valuable UCI and Olympic qualification points. Various “surprise” races have appeared on the UCI women’s calendar since the 2015 season has started, and while it’s a better problem to have than the days when races would vanish with only a few week’s notice, it still brings problems. I was interested to know more about the impact this has on teams, so I asked Stefan Wyman, the manager of British-based UCI team Matrix Procycling about decisions he makes about races, how these surprise impacts affect that, and more.
How do you make the decision for which races to target? I imagine there are issues of sponsors and so on, but what makes a difference? Stef: Personally it starts with the selection process of riders. I get the right riders in for my team. A balance of ability, costs, attitudes, ages, ambitions etc. Once I have the riders, I then speak with them about what races they’d like to do. I add to that the races I “need” to do for sponsor needs, and between us all we come up with an overall planner. Obviously, all of that needs to be done within the working budget. How much do UCI points matter in the equation? Stef: UCI points matter. A lot. Even more now given what we are working to over the coming two season. So next year we will have “World Tour Events”, and to get into one you’ll need to be top 20 in the team ranking at the beginning of the year unless you want to gamble on a wildcard invite. So we need to score 200 points, let’s say. If we don’t, and we have to sign riders who have points…. and therefore maybe drop riders to balance the squad/opportunity/costs. If we don’t score “WTE” points next year, we’d not be in consideration for entry to the World Tour in 2017 as far as I understand it. Points are essential. So are opportunities to score points. Read more…
Sharon Laws is a fascinating rider, one of those who gave up a good career to race bikes, and she’s had more than her share of adventures since then. Last year she was racing in the USA with UnitedHealthcare, but she’s back in Europe for 2015 after signing for the reinvigorated super–team Bigla, although her season got off to a bad start when she broke her collarbone in the Tour of Qatar.
She told me about all that, and more, and previews Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne World Cup, with a great take on what it’s like to ride the Mur de Huy. (25:06 mins, 39.1mb)
Listen to the podcast interview here (Right click, save-as to download)
You can follow Sharon on her twitter, and find out more about her on Bigla team rider profile – and of course, follow the Bigla twitter too. And you can read my previous interviews with Sharon from 2011 and from 2013 on Podium Café, and an audio interview with her from the 2014 Friends Life Women’s Tour.
The women’s Flèche Wallonne Road World Cup won’t have a live stream, but there will be highlights videos on the UCI youtube and maybe some highlights on the men’s race coverage. I’ll follow the race live with my twitter list, which is the nearest thing to a feed, and I have more ways to follow the race in my guide. You can find out more about the course, startlist, history and more on the race website, and on Velofocus’ preview.
The 2015 cycling season has hardly started, but wow, Boels Dolmans are already the team to beat, with Ellen van Dijk and Lizzie Armitstead winning at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Megan Guarnier winning Strade Bianche, and Chantal Blaak winning Le Samyn. Blaak is such a huge talent – being part of the Team Time Trial squad that won the Open de Suède Vårgårda TTT World Cup last year, and then going on to win the Road Race, finishing the season with a gold in the TTT World Championships. She’s one of those riders that epitomises Dutch-style Classics cycling, loving the rain, cobbles, wind, breakaways, and every time the race gets hard, so who better than to talk about the first Road World Cup of the season, the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe World Cup? She tells us what it’s like to race in Drenthe, how it was to win a World Cup and World Champs gold last year, how she got into cycling, and much more. (27:10 mins, 26.1 MB)
Listen to the podcast here (Right click, save-as to download)
If you prefer to read your interviews, there’s a transcript of the first half of this interview over on Podium Café.
The Boels Rental World Cup on Saturday 14th March 2015 is one of three women’s races in Drenthe – starting with the Molecaten Drentse Acht on Thursday 12th, which Blaak won last year, and finishing on Sunday with the Novilon Eurocup on Sunday 15th. Follow those links to find out more, and make sure you’re following the Ronde van Drenthe twitter. There will be live streaming and tv of the World Cup on RTV Drenthe and on NOS.nl and I can give you all the details of following and watching live over here – and here’s the clip of Blaak at the 2014 Drentse 8:
Last week Chantal won Le Samyn des Dames, and you can see her beautiful long sprint in this Sporza video. Her win at the Open de Suède Vårgårda World Cup was a gorgeous attacking moment, and all the videos are here. And if you want to watch her as part of Specialized-lululemon’s gold medal winning team at the Vårgårda TTT World Cup and the 2014 TTT World Championships, click through those links.
I’m funded to do interviews like this by my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you, so much, for everything you do
It’s the first big road race of 2015, the Ladies Tour of Qatar, and I caught up with Velocio-SRAM riders Tiffany Cromwell and Loren Rowney, as they relaxed in their gorgeous hotel room before Stage 1. They told me about what the race is like to ride, how the Aussie racing has been, their hopes for the season and a lot more.
You can follow them via their social media, of course – Tiffany has her website, twitter and instagram, and Loren has her twitter and instagram – and of course you can find out more about them at the Velocio-SRAM website. (31.11 MIN / 29.94 MB)
To stream the sandiest interview of the day, click here (right-click, save-as to download).
If you want to watch the live streams from the Ladies Tour of Qatar, and find more information on the race, I have a guide here. And finally, keep an eye on the Cyclingnews youtube for Tiffany’s video diaries – here’s her first one:
Huge thanks as always to my wonderful Patreon supporters, who fund me to do these interviews and much more – I really appreciate you all!
Valentina Scandolara is a huge fan favourite because of her love of attacks, and her friendly personality, online and in races. Continuing the recent Australian theme on the blog, she’s come from a block of training in Brazil to join her ORICA-AIS team-mates – cheering them on as they rode the Bay Crits and the National Road Championships before racing with them in the Tour Down Under, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Ladies Tour of Qatar. We talked about what being on ORICA’s been like, going from being “a wild animal in the city” to re-learning some cycling basics, how it felt when heart problems forced her out of the 2014 Road World Championships, the difference between winning Worlds medals as a junior and elite, and a whole lot more, including why she is so vocal about riders not being paid, and where she goes wrong in the Army…
(right click, save to download)
Subscribe for automated updates via the iTunes store here or via our RSS feed here. (The Vale post will take a little bit of time to upload as Dan’s left me in charge of the tech, and it’s not going well….)
Links for this podcast
Find out more about Vale through her twitter, and facebook, and through the Vale Scandolara fan club site – and read her profile on the ORICA-AIS site. Vale and her team-mate Amanda Spratt did some daily Q&As with me during last year’s Giro Rosa, and you can read them on Podium Café: pre-Giro; after Stage 2; Stage 3; Stage 4; and Stage 5.
Here are the videos from the 2014 Team Time Trial World Championships, where Vale won silver, the Bay Crits, where her team-mate Gracie Elvin won Stage 2 with Loes Gunnewijk second, and Vale’s win in the 2014 Giro del Trentino:
and talking after the Sparkassen Giro World Cup, and coming second in the 2014 Italian National Road Championships
Vale’s first races of 2015 will be the Santos Tour Down Under on 17-20th January, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 31st January, and then the Ladies Tour of Qatar, 3rd-6th February 2015. Make sure you’re cheering for her online and in real life!
Big thanks to my Patreon supporters, who fund me to do these interviews – as always, I really appreciate you.