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Equivalenting too!

Yesterday I gave you part 1 of my Equivalents post – matching women cyclists to people’s favourite male riders.  I love this game, because it’s a fun challenge – but it’s also a great way of giving people who want to get into women’s cycling riders to cheer for at the Worlds.  Here’s part 2 – and if you have better equivalents, or you have riders you’d like me to match for you, let me know in the comments, or on twitter, at @_pigeons_.

Philippe Gilbert

A lot of people have asked for an equivalent of PhilGil, and I’ll go one better, with a rider who has a career Gilbert can only dream of…  yes, I’m talking Marianne Vos!

Vos is the absolute genuis of women’s cycling, and just like Gilbert, she rampages through the Classics season, winning pretty much everything.  The women have this great series of day races, the Road World Cup, half of which are Spring Classics.  Two are familiar to fans of men’s cycling – the Flèche Wallonne and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (watch the David Harmon-narrated video of highlights of this year’s races) but I really love the women-only races – the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, in the hills around Varese, and the Ronde van Drenthe, a tough Dutch race through cobbled lanes and over a steep, sharp man-made hill (the Harmon video of those two is here).  Vos has won all of these except Flanders, so watch out for her next year – but to be fair, there are very, very few races Vos hasn’t won!

Vos is a total superstar, and I hope you remember her beautiful racing and emotional win at the Olympics.  She’s never, ever come less than second in the Road World Champs, ever since she first raced it as a junior – and she REALLY wants the win, especially so she can match Nicole Cooke‘s ground-breaking Olympics-Worlds double in 2008, and on home ground, as well.  At just 25, she already has Olympic golds from the track and road, road rainbows as a junior and senior, two track world champion titles, and she’s been World Cyclocross Champion a whopping five times.  Add to that, she’s a really grounded, down-to-earth person who basically really, really loves riding her bike, and is always very friendly to fans on twitter.  Yeah, I’m a definite Vos fangirl, and proud of it!

Another top Classics rider who wins stage races is Swedish star Emma Johansson.  She does suffer from the fact that the races she’s best at are the same as Vos, but that doesn’t stop her trying.  She started off racing in cross-country skiing as a girl, then discovered MTB at 13, switching to road cycling during a four-year spell at the Cycling School, a high school in Skara, Sweden. She found it hard to get into pro cycling after school, as there weren’t many clear routes in Sweden at the time, so moved to Spain by herself for 4 months – then moved to the Netherlands and supported herself as an au pair while she raced.  These days she lives in Oudenaarde, Belgium, during the season, and in Norway for the off-season.  She’s had a rough 2012, after she was hit by a car in her pre-season training, leaving her with two broken collarbones, so it was a struggle to get back to her top form.  She prefers the shorter, hard climbs, and she’s tactically superb – she’s definitely a favourite for Saturday.


Other Classics riders

The other women who are the tough Classics riders are Dutchies Loes Gunnewijk and Iris Slappendel.  Gunnewijk won the Omloop het Nieuwsblad this year, and she’s known for her frequent attacks – especially her explosive efforts in the final few kilometres of a tough, exhausting race.  She grew up on a Dutch farm, playing every kind of sport, but especially speed skating, and in the off-season she runs bike workshops in schools.  Watch out for her racing – and most likely, attacking – for Vos on Saturday – and follow her on twitter, she’s always great for updates!

Sadly, Slappendel won’t be racing this year.  She was all set to, but then a crash in the Team Time Trial resulted in her breaking her collarbone.  I’m gutted for her, she’s a tough rider – more of a sprinter than Gunnewijk, who’s a puncheur – and she always looks so gleeful racing.  After a depressing 2011, her move to Rabobank has been superb for her – and she won her first World Cup round, the Open de Suède Vårgårda in August (watch that here, with no commentary, via the UCI).  Slappendel blogs in Dutch on her website, and I recommend you put it through Google Translate (not entirely convinced that’s an accurate translation of the title of her latest blog!), because she always writes well – and in the off-season she works as a designer.  Follow her twitter this weekend, if she can’t ride, her insights will be WELL worth reading!


Mark Cavendish

So who’s the female equivalent of Cav?  Well, for the consistent winning, Vos – for being the top dog sprinter to beat, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg – but the rider who reminds me most of Cav is the young Australian, Chloe Hosking.  There’s something about Hosking’s style that reminds me of the Manxman.  She’s been racing in Specialized-lululemon‘s sprint train, learning everything she can from Teute, and, as all their riders do, blogging along the way (I like the one about how she’s a terrible room-mate).  And I BET you remember the furore when Hosking said what we all think when asked what she thought about Pat McQuaid saying women cyclists don’t deserve minimum wages at the 2011 Worlds, and called him “a bit of a dick”.   I was interested when some of the people who condemned what she said were defending Brad Wiggins’ TdF language – but my favourite result of dick-gate was Cycling Australia’s very Australian response:

“We took into account the fact that the women, and in particular Chloe, earn bugger all from the sport. And if in fact we imposed an immediate $200 fine that would be a very severe penalty…. Chloe was very contrite and we said to her ‘we respect your right to savagely criticise the attitude of the UCI and things that Pat McQuaid has done and said, but you can’t attack the messenger. You can attack the message, and we respect her right to do that, but calling someone a dick or a dickhead just doesn’t elevate the discussion at all and she knew that.”

Yeah, that’s right, they basically agreed with her, and used the press as an opportunity to raise awareness of how little women cyclists are paid.  I love the Aussies!

With Teute retiring, will Hosking be stepping into her cleats?  I can’t wait to find out!


Peter Sagan/Taylor Phinney

In terms of long talent for the future, the first rider who comes to mind is Hitec Products-Mistral Home’s Elisa Longo Borghini.  ELB is Phinney-esque in her pedigree – her mother, Guidina Dal Sasso, was a cross-country skier who competed in the Winter Olympics three times, her father Ferdinando was a cyclist, and her older brother Paolo has been riding at Liquigas for Ivan Basso.  Elisa was third at the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, won Best Young Rider jersey at the Giro Donne (the last remaining Grand Tour for women on the calendar), and a stage at the German stage race, Thüringen Rundfahrt.  But most interestingly for the Worlds, she was in a breakaway on the final Brainwash Tour stage, with Vos and Evelyn Stevens, and ended third…. on the stage that was all over the Cauberg!  All this, and she’s only 20!  Nicknamed “Lambo” (Lamborghini), she speaks at least four languages, and is studying for a degree in Communication Sciences at l’Università dell’Insubria in Varese, and her heroine is Rosa Luxembourg.

The other two young riders with bright futures are Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (20) and Anna van der Breggen (22).  Like Sagan, PFP loves her MTB – she was two-times Junior World Champion, as well as Junior Road World Champion, with 2 silver medals in the Junior ITT Champs.  She also races cyclocross, and if she’s starting to sound like a younger Vos, she’s racing alongside the Dutchwoman at Rabobank, where she’s had some superb results.   After her 7th place in the Olympics (and because the French always seem to have top 10 riders at Worlds) I was looking forward to seeing what she could do in Valkenburg – but her TTT crash has taken her out of the running.  She might need to make some hard decisions as to whether she carries on, as she did this year, riding both road and the MTB cross country circuit – but she’s a huge talent.

Anna van de Breggen is the youngest rider in the Dutch Worlds team.  She’s been racing for Sengers Ladies Team, one of the smallest UCI-ranked teams, and her results have been excellent to watch.  She attacked all the way through the road race at the European u23 Championships, but never managed to stay away – although her win in the ITT will have more than made up for it.  Apparently she says she wants to stay at Sengers for one more year, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if a big team snaps her up.

Follow all three of them on twitter: @ElisaLongoB, @FerrandPrevot and @AnnavdBreggen.


Ryder Hesjedal

If you’re looking for a female equivalent of Ryder Hesjedal, I’m thinking about two Orica-AIS riders, whose move to a new, big team has revitalised their careers.

Linda Villumsen won the Thüringen Rundfahrt in 2009, when she rode for HTC, but her 2011 season at AA Drink-Leontien.nl was pretty forgettable.  The move to Orica seems to have suited her down to the ground – she won a stage of the Tour of New Zealand, came third in the Flèche Wallonne World Cup, and then won the ITT stage of the Emakumeen Bira stage race in the Basque Country.  She’s been attacking all over the place, in pretty much every race, and this paid off in the 3-stage Giro Trentino, where she was in the breakaways for the two road race stages, and with the race coming down to her, Emma Pooley and Olga Zabelinskaya, pulled out all the stops to win the final ITT and therefore the GC.  She was 4th in the Olympic ITT, and 3rd in the Worlds ITT – she hasn’t been off the ITT Worlds podium since 2008.

Villumsen was born in Denmark, but changed to New Zealand citizenship in 2009.  She had first lived in the country as a teenage exchange student, and said becoming a Kiwi was “a dream come true” – there’s a lovely piece about her, and the family she lived with in NZ, from the New Zealand Herald.

Tiffany Cromwell is another rider who Orica-AIS has revitalised.  Like Trixi Worrack, Nicole Cooke and Amber Neben, she was caught up in the Skyter Shipping debacle, so was team-less for 2010, and then she ended her contract with Lotto early last year.  She’s back on top, though – winning a stage of the Giro Donne with a 100km solo breakaway, and working her socks off for Judith Arndt.  Hopefully the Cauberg will suit her down to the ground.  Off the bike, she’s a fashion designer, who’s designed kits for cycling teams, and she never takes herself too seriously.  I’ve linked to them before on this blog, but I love her fronting these team videos – on how cyclists should(n’t) pack, and interviewing her team-mates once or twice.  Definitely watch those videos, you’ll learn loads about the team!  And follow Tiffany at @TiffanyCromwell.


There’ll still be time for more – so tweet me or leave me comments with your favourite male riders, and I’ll do my best to match you up!

EDIT!  Part three has equivalents for Nibali, Eisel, Löfkvist, Cunego, Armstrong and Riccò!  Check it out

  1. September 21, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Hmm… a male equivalent to spunky, fiesty, vibrant, relative-newcomer and positively über team-focused bundle of virtual atomic energy, Lex Albrecht ?? I dunno. Can’t think of anybody.

    Who are these men, anyway? Does anybody follow them when women’s racing is so much more exciting? Perhaps somebody should dedicate a blog to the guys in order to elevate their unfair and unfortunate disadvantage when it comes to media coverage and general exposure. Meantime, keep us all enthralled; Race onward, ladies!!!

  1. September 22, 2012 at 10:15 am
  2. September 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm
  3. February 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm
  4. September 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm
  5. September 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm
  6. September 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

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