Why is the 2017 such an unusual year for women’s road cycling? Part 2 – more unique circumstances

I’m currently writing a mini-series about why 2017 is such an unusual year for women’s road cycling, and why it’s the first year of a new chapter for the sport – whether that turns out to be be positive or negative.  Yesterday I talked about how the 2017 Classics season is really different to 2016 and the previous years.  And I also talked about how calendar has changed, including the increase in race distances, and in Classics races, and how we’ve gone from just four World Cup Classics in eight weeks, two years ago, to eight in eight weeks.

But while the 2017 Classics have been less…. attacking… than in previous years, with surprise wins by sprinters, and a lack of early attacks in some of the races we’d expect to see more early action, it’s not as simple as saying it’s because of the longer races, and more full calendar (though I’m sure that is making a difference), because there are a few more unique circumstances that are impacting on 2017, and I want to talk about some of those.

The weather

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The women’s road cycling calendar: why is 2017 such an unusual year?

2017 has been a fascinating year already for women’s cycling, and we’re only in April.  We’re about to head into Ardennes Week, which signals the end of the Spring Classics, and already the season has been completely different to previous years.

It really feels like this is the first year of a new chapter for the sport, where the women’s Classics have fallen in line with the men’s, and the old patterns – where one or two riders could dominate the entire Classics season – are over.  I’m going to talk about why the changes have happened, and have a bit of context, because while there is a lot to celebrate, it raises a lot of questions about the future of women’s cycling, and how races and teams will adapt to the new Spring.

So what has happened so far?

After the racing year opened in Australia, the season had some major changes, with the loss of two pre-European-season stage races, the Ladies Tour of Qatar and the Vuelta a San Luis in Argentina.  Qatar, especially, had been the first chance to see a lot of the new-season versions of teams, and a chance for staff and riders to spot any issues and iron them out, and for fans to make guesses about how the Classics could pan out.  Without them, the first time we saw a lot of teams was Omloop het Nieuwsblad at the end of February.

The first thing to say about how the season has gone it to compare to last year.  These are the 2017 winners, and I’m going to get a bit geeky for a moment

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Watch the 2017 women’s Amstel Gold Race live

Sunday 16th April 2017

We haven’t had a women’s Amstel Gold for 14 years, and then it only ran for a few iterations, so having a women’s Amstel Gold Race is an enormous deal, especially for the Dutch riders – and we all know that the Netherlands is the superpower of women’s cycling, so this will be a toughly-fought race.

It’s also the start of the first ever women’s Ardennes week – Amstel on Sunday 16th April, then the only women’s Ardennes race of recent times, Flèche Wallonne, on Wednesday 19th, finishing on Sunday 23rd, with the first ever women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.  This makes it one of the most important weeks in the cycling calendar, and with major races having run every weekend since the Omloop het Nieuwsblad opened the season on 26th April, it’s been the toughest Classics season in modern women’s cycling. 2017 truly is the year everything’s changed – and in a season where one of the best things has been the increase in televised women’s races, it’s good that we get to see the 40 minutes at least.

It’s going to be a fantastic race, full of climbs – 17 in total, in the 121km route, including 4 times over the legendary Cauberg, the last ascent just 1.1km from the finish-line.  It’ll be tough, and beautiful, the course lined with ecstatic Dutch fans hoping one of their countrywomen can win.

So how do we watch?

The race starts at 10:40 European CEST (9:40am UK BST; 4:40am North American EDT; 6:40pm Australian AEST) and the TV stream should start at 13:25 CEST (12:25 BST; 7:25am EDT; 9:25pm AEST) – you can watch on TV in the Netherlands, on NOS Studio Sport, on France 3 in France, on the pay-to-watch Eurosport Player, and on Australian Eurosport from 9:30pm AEST)

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Podcast 2017 Episode 12 – The Buffalo Bill Joke

This week Sarah and Dan talk through all of the racing for the junior women and the elite women at the Healthy Ageing Tour in the Netherlands. A fantastic set of races that are run entirely by volunteers that include live coverage for the elite women and comprehensive video highlights for both, proving that there really are no excuses for big race organisers (*cough* ASO *cough). There’s also a bit of time to discuss what the race organisation looks like and involves along with a look ahead to the beginning of the Ardennes week of hilly classics, beginning with Amstel Gold on Sunday. Most importantly, Sarah teaches us all the Buffalo Bill joke. (1:24:43 MIN / 77.56 MB)

You can also get free, automated updates from iTunes or via our RSS feed here.

2017 Healthy Ageing Tour

Videos from the 2017 Junior and elite Healthy Ageing Tours – “samenvatting” are the highlights, Junioren are the Junior race highlights, and the full elite race replays are usually in three parts (eg “deel 1 van 2” is part 1 of 2 – if it’s “uitzending”, it’s just one broadcast.

Full results on the race website from the Junior and the Elite races

Sarah’s interviews with riders on Soundcloud – and video interviews and photos on the race twitter, for example, Emilie Moberg after winning Stage 5 and Lorena Wiebes after winning the junior race

 

 

Watch the 2017 Healthy Ageing Tour live!

It’s been an amazing spring for getting to watch live women’s cycling, and after three out of four of the WorldTour races being streamed live, now we have a stage race – the Healthy Ageing Tour in the Netherlands, the race formerly known as the Energiewacht Tour.

The Healthy Ageing Tour has two races, the elites, which will be streamed, and the Juniors, who race Round 3 of the Junior Nations Cup.  It’s probably the biggest stage race for Juniors, as they race on the same roads and same days as the elites, stay in the same accommodation, eat in the same dining hall, and get to see the top teams up close and personal.  It’s a real opportunity for the Juniors to see exactly what it’s like racing elite women’s cycling, as well as for fans to spot future stars.

There are tons of ways to follow these – I’ll be working on the social media side, so if you have any questions, I will try to help in any way I can.

The elite Healthy Ageing Tour, 5-9th April 2017

This will be streamed live, in full, on Podium.tv, with no geo-restrictions, and if you miss it live, the full stage replays will be on the Podium.TV – check out the Sport page on their website.  Commentary will be in Dutch, by ex-pro Iris Slappendel, and there will also be daily highlights.

If you miss any of the livestreams, they’ll be replays from this page – UZ means the full broadcast is up, and “Samenvatting” are the highlights.

You can find the stage timings on the race website – timings are all in European CEST, so 1 hour ahead of UK BST, 6 hours ahead of USA EDT, and 8 hours behind Australian AEST.  So when Stage 1a starts at 10:00 CEST, that’s 9am BST, 4am EDT and 6pm AEST.

You can also follow the action via the livetimings, and on twitter, via @HealthyAgeingTr and the #HAT17 hashtag.

All the race information is on the race site.

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The Junior Healthy Ageing Tour, 5-8th April 2017

No livestream for this, but there will be daily summaries on Podium.tv, and livetiming on Cyclingonline.info.    There will also be lots of tweeting from the @HealthyAgeingTr and the #HATJun17 hashtag.

Lots more information on the race website.

There will be daily video highlights on Podium.TV – click on a stage, and in the sidebar, Samenvatting Junioren is the junior highlights.

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If you have any questions, let me know in the comments, or on my own twitter.  Big thanks to my Patreon supporters who find me in this kind of work.

Podcast 2017 Episode 11 – Because Sprinters Don’t Win Flanders

So this week Sarah was not only AT the Ronde van Vlaanderen but was doing the live English commentary for the race along with Rochelle Gilmore. We talk about what it was like roadside at the race and in the commentary booth before diving into all of the attacks and moves that made up the race. It was an amazing race and there are so many highlights to appreciate. (1:08:04 MIN / 62.29 MB)

You can get free automated downloads via our iTunes store here or via our RSS feed here.

The full stream replay, and lots more videos, photos and race reports, are in Sarah’s post here.

Check out Sarah’s twitter for more of her photos from the build-up of the race…

 

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Ronde van Vlaanderen 2017 – videos, media and more

Oh Flanders!  Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the women’s cycling calendar, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and I still can’t believe I got to commentate it!  I have always wanted to watch it live, of course, and last year we came so close – but this year I saw the last 40km from the commentary box on the finish-line at Oudenaarde, so I could be biased when I say this was a hugely thrilling edition – but really, this had so much drama, fantastic racing, and a really interesting tactical decision I think we’ll be talking about for ages.

Here’s the full replay, with commentary from Rochelle Gilmore and me.  You can’t watch it from Belgium, I’m afraid, and you may need to be logged into facebook – but if you can, please give it the hits – not because it’s me, but because it’s the official stream, and demonstrating the audience really makes a difference.

There’s also an unofficial video here, for people not in Belgium/without facebook.

Dan and I podcasted about what it was like commentating the race, with photos I took on my twitter.

UCI highlights

Sporza’s official highlights (please do click for the stats) and another highlights:

There’ll be more videos to come, which I’ll edit in (and please do share anything else you see, in the comments below or on my twitter) and I have a load of great photo galleries and race reports – I definitely recommend reading these because the post-race quotes are great.

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