One of the games I love to play is “Equivalenting” – where people tell me their favourite male riders or favourite kinds of riders, and I find them a female equivalent to cheer for at the Road World Championships. I started this before the 2012 Olympics on twitter, for people who didn’t watch a lot of women’s cycling (because it’s hard to watch, let’s face it) but really wanted to love the racing, and for curious women’s cycling fans, who want to see what I’d say.
You can read some of my old Equivalents posts if you like, from the 2012 (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) but I’ve started again for 2014. If you’d like me to Equivalent for you, tell me your favourite rider and why you like them in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll see what I can do – and of course, if you can think of a better Equivalent, please share it!
So, without further ado…
The two biggest pure sprinters in the peloton are Kirsten Wild, who’s not racing Worlds this year, as she’s focusing on track, and Giorgia Bronzini. Now you might be thinking “Ponferrada is too hilly for Bronzini”, but remember, she got over the hills in Geelong to win her first of two Road World Championships golds, and managed to stay invisible in the pack until she exploded out in the finishing straight.
Like Cav, she’s a smaller rider, and also has a Track World Championships gold medal (in the 2009 Points race) – and she has a huge advantage in Worlds, because the Italian National Team genuinely don’t seem to care who wins unless it’s one of them, so if she’s looking like she’s doing well, she’ll have her chance.
Jen says she loves Cance for being the strong Rouleur type, and the Cance equivalent is Ellen van Dijk – a Time Trial superstar who is also fantastic in the Classics. She won the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year, and had stellar Classics results – and like Cance, can both take an opportunity to go for a flyer, and also work her absolute heart and soul out for team-mates, which makes her immensely likeable. The other reason it’s easy to like her is, like Cance at his best, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and can laugh at herself. I liked this, after she just missed out on winning Chrono Champenois last week
Pity I took the wrong exit in #ChronoChampenois, but satisfied with last test. Now off to Spain to check courses & not make same mistake 😉
— Ellen van Dijk (@ellenvdijk) September 14, 2014
My favourite Ellen moments are her killing herself in endless attacks before the 2012 Olympic road race had even left London, just going over and over and over, so every other team had to chase; and this year giving it all for Lizzie Armitstead in the Ronde van Drenthe World Cup, to launch Lizzie’s glorious attack up the VAMberg; winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen by attacking at a time that wasn’t perfect…. except she made it perfect – and last year, after winning the ITT Worlds, looking this happy – aw!
BB said he thought he knew who his equivalent of Titi was, and that she’d just retired…. he likes Voeckler for these reasons:
Great climber, fights despite the odds, never says dies, always attacks when he shouldn’t, underrated and a big sense of fun.
Yeah, Emma Pooley was definitely that crazy attacker who never gave up attacking, and I’m sure she’ll be doing the same in marathons and tri, now she’s given up pro cycling… But never fear, there are other equivalents!
We’re slightly scuppered as women’s cycling fans, as so many of the big climbing races have disappeared over the last few years (I still miss the Pyrennean Tour de l’Aude Grand Tour, for example) but this year’s Giro Rosa had some amazing climbing moments. Of course Pooley won all three mountain stages, but among the other climbers, three stood out for never-say-die, against-all-odds attacks, instead of sitting back and conserving their losses. There were tons of great riders, but three that stood out for me were….
Anna van der Breggen – she was the only rider who could chase Pooley solo up the climb on Stage 6, and was only caught by the chasing group at the top of the climb when she waited to descend with her team-mates. Then on the big, long, gruelling climb on Stage 8, Megan Guarnier attacked first, and Anna chased and so nearly made it – caught by Pooley and Mara Abbott with 2k to go, the dropped in the final kilometre. It’s easy to overlook Anna in the Giro because her team-mates Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot were so strong, and Annemiek van Vleuten won the Prologue and Stage 3, but AvdB made us all ask “where DOES a Dutch rider learn to climb like that?”, and her third place on GC was more than deserved.
AvdB won’t be racing Worlds – she was caught in the awful Rabo-Liv crash in the Team Time Trial World Championships and broke her hip – but I’m sure she’ll come back stronger next year. Send her a “Get well soon” message via her website and twitter.
Speaking of Megan Guarnier, that attack on the Giro Stage 8 was such a great moment – a classic example of a rider who wouldn’t take the easy route, and definitely wouldn’t take defeat lying down. She had had a problem with asthma earlier in the race, and it would have been easy to hang on to the group on that stage, but she wanted to go out hard – and did, and that’s what exciting cycling is for me. Claudia Lichtenberg did the same on the final stage, with Liv-Shimano putting in an extraordinary effort to blow the peloton apart on the run-in to the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, so the other big climbers (apart from the Rabos of course) were on the back foot. Neither of these paid off, but they could have, and I love that spirit.
However, there’s one rider I think really sums up what BB likes, and that’s Valentina Scandolara. This young Italian physically can’t help herself, she just HAS to attack – she loves the racing so much she has to try, and every time I see her go I grin my head off. And oh my goodness, she’s so much fun. She’s got the most friendly and fun twitter presence, with tons of happy photos, and she’s passionate about making the sport the best it can be. She’s a killer descender, a great team player, and I am unashamed about being a huge fan!
Finally, if you’re looking for a rider who makes the Voeckler-faces, check out another great climber, Evelyn Stevens. My favourite 2014 Evie moments were when she went straight from the Giro to Thüringen Rundfahrt with no break, winning Stage 5 of Thüringen on her 15th consecutive day of racing, and winning the GC on her 18th…. so why do the UCI limit women’s races to a week? You have to love a rider who gave up a high-flying Wall Street job to become a pro – but for Voeckler fans, check out her facial expressions! Find out more on her website, twitter, and in this little film
Elz Lloyd says her favourite men change all the time, but what she really likes are riders who are genuine, nice people, and she also loves to cheer for the underdog. I’ve suggested Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio – she’s not quite the underdog, but she’s a genuine, lovely person who always seems to be trying to be the best person she can be – and given the fact she nearly died in a horse-riding accident at 18, and doctors predicted she would never be the same again, she counts as an underdog.
She’s racing for South Africa, and has been racking up the “Firsts” – last year she was the first rider from the African continent to get onto the podium in the Road World Cup, at Flèche Wallonne, and in the Giro Rosa, and this year she was the first African rider to get onto the Commonwealth Games road race podium. She’s frustrated with her 2014, though, as she suffered from a ton of allergies, so I am crossing my fingers for a great Worlds result for her.
Stephen likes Nico Roche:
Great climber, fights despite the odds, never says dies, always attacks when he shouldn’t, underrated and a big sense of fun. It’s the never say die attitude I like, not the hopeless attacks, he is good enough to win, just seems to mis-time it too often.
My 2014 equivalent is Tiffany Cromwell. I think she’s probably been frustrated with her season, even though she has attacked over and over again, and just not pulled off a win… yet! She’s a fantastic rider, really gutsy, who attacks on the climbs, on the descents, and to try to change any bunch sprint script. I think of her 100km solo breakaway to win a Giro stage in 2012, attacking to win the 2013 Omloop het Nieuwsblad in terrible weather, and last year, on the Cerro al Volturno “Classics-esque” Giro stage, she was the only rider who could keep up with the best descender in the world, Marianne Vos, and was following all Vos’ lines before crashing out on the last descent at 8k to go, ending up 12th. What I loved about that was afterwards she said she could have let Vos go, taken conservative lines and got an easy second, but she’d rather take the risk and go for the win. Superb attitude!
She’s definitely got that sense of fun, and I also gave her as an Equivalent to Bling Matthews’, well, ‘bling’! Tiffany’s a qualified fashion designer, who does design work off the bike, lives in Monaco, and has lovely things, but she also laughs at herself a lot – I like this video from ORICA in 2012, Tiff demonstrating “how to pack”
Tiffany’s been writing race reports all year for Cycling Tips, and you can find out more about her on her website and twitter, and see through her eyes with her instagram. I interviewed her at the start of the season (Part 1 and Part 2)
Astrid O’Brien asked for a Millar equivalent:
Intelligent, outspoken, a romantic. Stylish on & off the bike. Tending towards the poncier end of the spectrum 😉
I can’t think of one single Millar equivalent, and for the purpose of this I’m completely ignoring the EPO side of him, but I’ll divide this into three parts. For the off-the-bike style, I recommend the Specialialized-lululemon riders, who always look super-cool off the bike in their lululemon gear – check out the gorgeous team profile photos by Emily Maye – but while they have so many great ITT riders, and they’re all so intelligent, I’d put them as more enthusiastic than the laconic Millar.
So I’ve split Millar into two – for the intelligent-romantic-outspoken rider, it has to be Marijn de Vries, who’ll be racing in Sunday’s Team Time Trial with Liv-Shimano. Check out this gorgeous piece she wrote about racing up the Madonna del Ghisallo climb in this year’s Giro Rosa. I love how evocative she is – and her blog is full of so many different sides of her, from funny, to angry, excited, sad, enthused, and just plain interesting (I suspect her “how to pee” blog is the most viewed thing on the English side of her site.). She’s even written about Millar’s ankles! On the bike she’s a super-tough domestique who works her heart out for the team, and has Top 10 results in World Cups. She doesn’t seem to have a contract for next year, which is a terrible shame, she’s an awesome rider and person, I’d sign her in a heartbeat!
You can find out more about Marijn there, and I’ve interviewed her a few times now, in 2010, on her strange journey into cycling, in April 2013 on frozen eyeballs and more, and in a podcast interview from January this year. And of course you can follow her on twitter.
But for the other side of Millar, the on-bike, outspoken-in-a-different way, I’m going for Lizzie Armitstead. Of course, they’re both British, and like Millar, Lizzie is intelligent and super-stylish on the bike. It’s not a perfect comparison, as Lizzie is more Yorkshire-outspoken, and wins a lot more races, at the highest levels, including Olympic silver in 2012, and Commonwealth Games gold, and the overall 2014 Road World Cup, but If you’re a Millar fan wanting to cheer someone on in the Worlds road race, pick Lizzie, she’s awesome.
Hopefully that gives you some ideas of who to follow – but if you need more…. leave me a comment or tweet me, tell me your favourite riders or type of riders, and I’ll find an Equivalent for you, too!
UPDATE! Here’s Part 2 – with Equivalents of Tony Martin, Jack Bauer, Peter Sagan and Tom Staniford