Every year I really enjoy playing the Equivalents game, helping people enjoy Worlds a bit more. It’s for people who are new to women’s road cycling, or are fans who are interested in what I’ve got to say – but basically people tell me their favourite male cyclist, or type of rider, and I’ll give them an equivalent to cheer for in the women’s Road Race on Saturday. I’ve written one post already this year, where I gave Equivalents for Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Tommy Voeckler, David Millar, Nico Roche and “Nice riders/underdogs”, and here’s part two.
Remember, if you’d like an Equivalent, leave me a comment, or tweet me with who you like, and most importantly why, and I’ll answer before Worlds starts! The guide to how to watch Worlds is here.
James asked for a “Jack Bauer, because he can ride, he can kill people and he totally rocks the man-bag… 😉” – and I can’t do one, but I can split it into two! Iris Slappendel is an awesome rouleur type who can make man-bags – off the bike she’s a designer who creates custom bags out of recycled cycling materials, as well as other things. She’s the current Dutch road race champion, very much liked in the peloton, and has a great blog and twitter – you’ll see her racing hard for her team-mates in Worlds.
I’m not sure Iris could kill you, though – but some other riders definitely could!
There are various way women riders are funded as athletes, and in some countries this is through the military – there are real-life soldiers racing, and one that I just can’t imagine in uniform is Valentina Scandolara, who’s in the Italian army. I talked about her in the first part of this series, but I just can’t imagine her marching without trying to attack! Then there’s the Luxembourg multiple national road champion and cyclocrosser, Christine Majerus, who competed in the Military Games, and whose twitter profile reads “cyclist – soldier – olympian – dreamer – fighter“….
And if the Army is a bit too full-on for you, how about the police force? Two riders who the Worlds course should suit really well are funded by their police forces – Trixi Worrack, former Junior ITT World Champ, and the rider most likely to win the “most combative” jersey in any given race, is in the German police force, while former Junior Road, ITT and MTB World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is part of the French Gendarmerie, and will be tearing up the roads on Saturday, hoping to add an elite Worlds medal to her 2014 Road and two MTB World Cup golds.
The obvious answer, when Tina asked me for a Tony Martin equivalent, is Lisa Brennauer, the brand-new ITT World Champion – but it’s not just because of the rainbows, or the fact they’re German. Tina likes Tony for “the combination of talent & busting a gut for his team“, and that’s Lisa all over. She races for Specialized-lululemon, and is this awesome presence, dependable, calm and such a nice person that after she won Worlds on Tuesady, twitter was full of pro women saying how happy they were for her.
Last year Specialized-lululemon had this terrible run of bad luck, with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Evelyn Stevens and Trixi Worrack all injured at the same time – Ina’s head injury so bad she had to retire – and you’d have forgiven the team for crumbling, but they didn’t just rally, they shone, with Ellen van Dijk stepping up to some of the best performances in World Cups, and Lisa working hard in every race, both for team-mates and getting her own podiums. This year she was leading Thüringen Rundfahrt when her team-mate Evie Stevens got into a two-woman break and overtook her on GC, and Lisa was happy for her and worked her socks off for her win, which is just like her. She’s had great results of her own this year, but nothing will compare to winning two golds in three days in the Worlds, with the TTT then the ITT – bettering her 2005 win in the Junior ITT World Championships following in the footsteps of German ITT stars Hanka Kupfernagel and Judith Arndt – and if she’s anything like those two, there will be so many more medals to come!
Oh Peter. I can’t like you, but lots of other people do. Morten says he’s “A showman and a the best(?) all-round rider“, and that’s obvious, that’s Marianne Vos, the best rider in the World, and Sagan can only hope to match her palmarés – 12 cycling World Championships Golds (seven in cyclocross, three on the road and two on the track) as well as pretty much every Classic, day race and stage race that counts. The only thing is, whereas Sagan is known for showing off, and disrespecting women in cycling, Vos works super-hard off the bike to improve the sport for everyone, running clinics for school-kids, taking part in mass-participation rides, and campaigning for better women’s racing, through her work on the UCI commissions and with the Le Tour Entier campaign for a women’s Tour de France.
On top of all that, she’s a genuinely nice person, who works as hard for her team-mates as for herself, is very accessible to fans, and someone who just loves cycling at every level. She’s never come less than second at Worlds since she was a Junior, but having pulled out of her last two races, the Boels Rental Ladies Tour and the Lotto-Belisol Tour of Belgium, and then got dropped in the Team Time Trial Worlds, is she feeling healthy right now? One thing we know, if she can start on Saturday she will, and if she can’t race for herself, she’ll be a decoy for her team-mates, and whatever happens, she’ll do her very, very best.
Nico likes Sagan for his potential, “Only 24 and he has won so much“, and while there are a stack of young riders out there who are fabulous (I’ve already mentioned Ferrand-Prévot, for instance) I’m going to pick Elisa Longo Borghini here, because I keep forgetting she’s only 22. She’s got a great heritage – her mother, Guidina Dal Sasso, was an Olympic cross country skier, and her dad was a cyclist and a bike mechanic, while her brother Paolo races for Cannondale.
In 2012 she was the Best Young Rider in the women’s Giro, third in the GP de Plouay World Cup and third in the World Champs road race, and then last year looked to have a stellar year – winning the Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cup, and coming second in Flèche Wallonne – and then having a terrible crash in the Italian National Championships, forcing her to miss the 2013 Giro, where she was one of the favourites (probably the most touching moment of the race was when Stage 6 passed through her village, Ornivasso, and she was roadside in a wheelchair, cheering the peloton on) and amazingly she came back to come 8th in the Road World Champs. This year she’s been on podiums and won the Tour de Bretagne and Trophée d’Or, but with the Worlds course looking perfect for her climbing, descending and tactical riding, maybe there’s a bigger win to come? She’s a lovely rider, with a great personality, and fun twitter, so she’d make an excellent champion
Tom, self-effacing chap that he is, wanted an equivalent of himself: “don’t sprint, poor top-end, Diesel engine, adores TTs, reasonable climber, sartorially majestic, outspoken“. Now I can’t say anyone is as magnificent sartorially as Tom is, but for the TTs and also the suicide attacks Tom enjoys, I picked Linda Villumsen. She’s a Danish rider who’s converted to New Zealand, having spent a lot of time there as a teen, and this year was the first time she broke her run of ITT World Champs podiums, that last five years.
As well as the ITTs, Linda’s known for, well, attacks that sometimes pay off, but always have to be chased down, and I love that in a rider. She recently won the hilly Tour de l’Ardèche, and has a strong track record in the Worlds road race, so don’t be surprised if you see her making her move on Saturday. She’s a lot more quiet and reserved than Tom is, but he can rest assured, the women’s peloton is stacked full of outspoken riders, so he can probably just pick a rider at random and they’d fit for him!
I have to admit, I’m stumped on this final one….. Mick asked “What about Alejandro Valverde? Any ladies with hair transplants?” and I can’t even get close! If you can help, tell him in the comments – and if you think you can do better with the Equivalents, or want some of your own, leave me a comment or ask me on twitter. I’ll be there throughout the Worlds, so if there’s anything else you want to know, come and chat!