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.
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
It’s the first week of 2017 and we’re already knees deep in a whole bunch of racing, it’s been fantastic! Dan anoints another honorary Australian and we celebrate the joys of the diversity of Orica Scott tactics. There’s a new Australian national criterium champion and there’s a HUGE amount of changes in the 2017 UCI Racing Calendar to discuss. There’s also some cyclocross, some Vos and some other goss to cover. It’s a big and exciting start to the new year. (1:30:25 MIN / 84.77 MB)
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Things we talked about this week included…
Sarah’s posts on the 2017 women’s road calendar:
- Part 1: How the 2016 Road Calendar changed between publication and racing – and how 2016 compares to 2017
- Part 2: How many races we’ve lost in 2017, and how that fits into patterns over time
- Part 3: Where the change have happened
This week’s racing
Results, photos on Cyclephotos.co.uk and the DVV Trophy website, IJsboerke Trophy Rankings with one race to go, and video highlights: