In praise of the Enduro World Series – and their new Juliana Women’s Rides

Enduro MTB is a pretty new discipline, as far as cycling goes.  It’s kind of a cross between Downhill, cross country and Marathon mountain biking – a stage race format, with multiple events over a weekend, and competitors also riding the (mostly uphill) transfers between the (mostly downhill) stages.  If you want to know more about it, there are the wikipedia article, and introductions from Pinkbike and BikeRadar, and this video from GCN MTB.

The Enduro World Series is the biggest competition, a season-long series that takes place in some truly gorgeous locations.  It’s only been running since 2013, and it’s very definitely outside the umbrella of the UCI, organised by the Enduro Mountain Bike Association (EMBA), which itself started in 2012, and from the start, it’s been very inclusive, especially of women, but also of fans.  It has excellent media, with lots of rider involvement, in the previews of each race, highlights, and lots of things in between, and it makes these available to pretty much everyone.  Check out the video page and photo galleries on their website, and drool over that beautifully-MTB combination of fantastic people doing extraordinary things on amazing bikes, in the most incredible landscapes.

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Podcast 2017 Episode 8 – Won By Sprinters Doing Sprinty Things in a Sprint

This week we revisit all of the excitement from the Women’s World Tour at the Ronde van Drenthe. There’s more great racing from Drentse 8 and Setmarna Ciclista Valenciana. On top of this we have several really good articles about ways to improve women’s cycling to discuss and there’s been some interesting news in regards to British Cycling, and Jeannie Longo’s husband Patrice Ciprelli. Of course we can’t finish on a downer so we also take note of some of the fun stuff we’ve seen around the web this week. As always, heaps of links and videos in the post on the website!

You can sign up for automated (and free!) updates from the iTunes store here or via our RSS feed here!

News and videos from the last week in women’s cycling

This week’s racing

Videos, photos and more from the excellent Ronde van Drenthe in this post here.

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Drentse Acht van Westerveld

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Three happy films (& links) for February: Bike science fiction, Lee Craigie and WorldTour

If you, like me, live in the UK, you’ll know that February can be a hard month – so often grey, dreary, dreich, and feeling like it will never end.  Cyclocross is over, and the Spring Classics are yet to begin.  But there are also so many positives too – sunny days feel so much better, for their rarity, and days are getting noticeably longer; the first Spring flowers are out; and in the women’s cycling world, we get tons of great film-ettes that remind us that the winter is nearly over.

I’ve seen three that I love this week – and they include a book giveaway too, because I’m sharing the joy and want to give two lucky readers a nice gift!

1. Lee Craigie’s ‘Escape’ film

You probably already know I’m a huge fan of the Adventure Syndicate, a group of women who share their bike-based adventures to inspire and encourage others to do more.  One of the Founders, Lee Craigie, has made a little film for UK charity Sustrans, sharing her love of cycling as she rides the Caledonia Way.

It’s a gorgeous little film, combining a love of bike riding with gorgeous scenery, and Craigie’s soft Scottish accent.  It’s uplifting, inspiring and happy, and you all should watch it!

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Take 5 minutes to help women’s cycling in 2017

It’s 2017, and a lot of us are really looking for positives, and one of the best ones I’m finding is doing something to help women’s cycling.  We can all do this – just set aside 5 minutes a week, get online, and you can really make a difference, to your favourite riders, teams and races.  You can do this at lunchtime at work, on the bus or train – I do it in ad breaks, when I’m watching TV!

But the key is, just five minutes can really, really help the sport.  Whenever I talk to anyone involved in cycling, these are the actions they recommend, and they’re super-simple.  None of this is new – we’ve talked about a lot of this for years on the site, for example,  a few years ago, when Amber Pierce started her #ClickThruThurs initiative – but with the internet moving so fast, it’s always worth re-visiting.

Basically, the key is to take 5 minutes a week (or more!) to engage with riders and races, their sponsors and team media and thank them for what they do, and to share media that covers women’s cycling.  It’s so simple, that it almost seems too easy, but it really, really makes a difference.  I’ve got ten suggestions that I try to make time for whenever I can.

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On pitchforks, patience, demand, and the Tour Down Under

We’re at the first stage race of 2017, the Santos Women’s Tour, and it’s time for the first women’s cycling polemica of the season.  It’s a familiar cry, “why can’t we see more of the racing?”, with a lot of people going further, with “why can’t we watch live?”, and the familiar response that seems to chide fans for wanting more.  I have feelings about this, as you can imagine.

Let’s start with some background.  The Santos Women’s Tour (SWT) is a four-stage race alongside the men’s Tour Down Under – two crits, and two road races (one under 80km long).  It’s the first UCI road race of 2017, and has a great field that have been Down Under for winter sunshine, training camps, non-UCI races like the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and the Aussie Road Nationals, as well as the UCI-ranked Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 28th January.  It’s always exciting, seeing the teams in their new iterations (and new kits), and with the loss of the Tour de San Luís and the Ladies Tour of Qatar, the status has risen.

Now, although it’s nominally part of the Tour Down Under, they have different race organisers, though the sponsor, website and social media present them as two sides of the same coin – and the races are both owned by South Australian Government, which has used the Santos Women’s Tour as evidence of their commitment to promote women’s sport.  So it’s a surprise to see the men’s and women’s races treated differently.  The Pre-TDU People’s Choice Classic, the men’s crit that’s on the same course and day as the SWT Stage 2 Crit, for example, was streamed live, with two highlights videos on the Tour Down Under YouTube (one 4:21 long, and the 1:19 finish video), plus a “fan cam”, and 1:57 long winner’s interview, while at this point there’s only a 1:47 long video covering Stages 1 & 2 of the women’s race combined.  For context, compare that to the 1:34 video of the Undies Run at the race.

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Watch the 2016 Women’s WorldTour GP Plouay live

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.25.20Saturday 27th August 2016

The GP Plouay is the penultimate race in the UCI Women’s WorldTour – and we know it well, as it used to be the final World Cup of the year.  It’s always exciting, with a tough circuit, especially the grinding climb of the Côte du Ty Marrec, and some gorgeous scenery.

Megan Guarnier had already won the WorldTour, even before the Vårgårda races, so this race won’t change anything there – but it’s always a fantastic, beautiful race in its own right – and we get to watch parts of it live!

The race starts at 13:40 Euro CEST (12:40 UK BST/7:40am North American EDT/9:40pm Aussie AEST) and the TV coverage starts at 15:15 CEST (2:15 BST/9:15am/11:15pm AEST) – it’s being shown & streamed in French on French FranceTV, and in English on the Eurosport player to subscribers only.  Of course, you will be able to see the French stream via VPN (INRNG explains VPNs here) and there may be streams on sites like these.

Before the TV starts, we can follow on twitter as usual, using the #GPPlouay hashtag, or following the race twitter – and I’ll be updating my usual list of people tweeting from the race too. UPDATE:  though I should warn you, most of the course is in gorgeous forested countryside that has no mobile phone signal at all, so it’s lucky we get streaming of this one!

I’ll post links to streams on twitter, if you can’t find them.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.25.10

The race is 4 laps of the 26.9km circuit (the one in red), then one loop of 13.9km (blue), and there are previews of the race by last year’s winner Lizzie Armitstead on Boels-Dolmans’ website,   on Ella Cycling Tips and Road & Mud. The startlist is here, and there’s more information in the roadbook and on the race website.

If you want to re-live why we love this race, check out the video from previous years: Marianne Vos winning 2013, 2014‘s solo win by Lucinda Brand;   2015, won by Lizzie Armitstead from a small group.

Why is the Giro Rosa on at the same time as the Tour de France – and should it move?

Every year during the Giro Rosa, I have conversations with people who either say that they find it hard to follow the women’s Giro, or who suggest that it would get more coverage if they were on at a different time.  I love have conversations about women’s cycling, but it can be hard to have long conversations on twitter etc, so I wanted to put my thoughts in one place.

First of all, the Giro is the longest women’s race on the calendar.  Women’s races are limited to 7 days without explicit permission from the UCI, and while there used to be three women’s ‘Grand Tours’ of ten days – the Giro, the Tour de l’Aude and the Grand Boucle (sort of the women’s Tour de France, but not run by the ASO), we lost the other two in the 2000s, when a lot of women’s races disappeared.  So the Giro is important as a long race, with room for a range of different riders to shine (stages for sprinters, Classics types, ITTer, pure climbers etc) in the same race, and it has a long history, with all the excitement and energy that comes from racing in Italy.  It always attracts most of the best riders and biggest teams in the world, and just like the men’s Grand Tours, stage wins here as as much a major goal for riders as the GC is.

As a side issue, this year is both the first year of the UCI’s Women’s World Tour, which the race is a natural part of – and there has been less TV coverage on Italian station RAI than we’ve become used to, and less media from the race organisation – but those are separate issues I’ll get into another time.

So why is the Giro on at the same time as the TdF?

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