We’re in the middle of the Ardennes week which means there’s heaps of racing and heaps of climbs around. This week Sarah and Dan talk through how Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne both unfolded (they were amazing!), and what this might mean for Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. There’s also time to catch up on some of the main results from the recent Track World Championships, and to find out a bit more about Lizzie Deignan’s new book “Steadfast” which is out now. Of course there’s plenty more in the podcast and even more in the post! (1:12:03 MIN / 65.98 MB)
You can sign up for automatic downloads via the iTunes store here or via our RSS feed here.
This week’s collection of women’s cycling links and news
This week’s racing
Click to see the videos, photos and media from the 2017 Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.
Tour of the Gila
Full results of Stage 1, race report and photo gallery
2017 Track World Championships
It’s the first women’s Amstel Gold Race since 2004 – and the start of the first ever women’s Ardennes Week. 121km, with 17 climbs, including four times up the Cauberg, the last just over a kilometre from the finish. Everything suggested it was going to be a fantastic race, and the peloton didn’t disappoint.
If you missed the race, or want to re-live it, I’ve collected videos, photos, race reports, results and more. As always, I’ll edit more things in as I see them, and I’d love it if you could send things my way, via the comments below, or on twitter.
Let’s start with videos. Highlights and post-win reactions on NOS.nl (please watch, if you can, so they get the stats). More highlights, and the first podium ceremony, on Sporza. And for Australians (or those with a VPN set to Aus…) here’s the full 43 minute coverage from SBS Cycling Central.
The UCI highlights, final 13km (French commentary, and weirdly a splash image from… the 2008 World Championships) and full 45 minutes coverage with no commentary.
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)
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.
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
The 2017 Women’s World Tour and season in general have already shown us an increase in live women’s racing – from streams from the Australian 2017 openers, the Mitchelton Bay Crits and Deakin Women’s Race at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, to the entirely live Omloop van het Hageland, and the live last parts of the WorldTour races Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Aldredo Binda, we’ve been able to watch some amazing racing.
But the season won’t continue like that. There will be some fantastic live racing at the Healthy Ageing Tour and maybe at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but what about at the Ardennes Week?
Just having an Ardennes Week is fantastic. The three races, Amstel Gold on 16th April, Flèche Wallonne Femmes on 19th, and the first ever Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes on 23rd, will each have a women’s race that’s part of the Women’s WorldTour – but as yet, we’ve had no news about whether we’ll be able to see them live, or even a good length of highlights, beyond 10 minutes on the UCI YouTube.
For the last six years, on and off, I’ve been doing some research and analysis of the women’s cycling road calendar. I started this in the first place because I wanted to really understand the impact of losing and gaining races because I hadn’t seen it anywhere else; and because I work visually, I ended up with lots of colour-coordinated charts and spreadsheets. You can find the earlier posts in the Podium Café series, and then the posts from last year under the women’s road calendar tag on this website.
Now, I usually do this when the UCI announces the coming year’s calendar, around the Road World Champs, but this year, I couldn’t face it, and saved it up until a newsworthy time – which turned out to be a good move. The thing that stopped me doing it is that it changes so much in the months between the announcement and when the races actually take place.
We see this every year – new races that are announced that never run (I’m thinking of the Syrian races, which were included in the calendar for years, even though the war made it perfectly clear they’d never happen, as the most egregious examples, but every year there are more), ones that move around the calendar between initial announcement, and the “pop-up” races that are given UCI status so late in the year that of course most big teams, who have to set their racing schedules in the summer, can’t get there. If you want examples, check out my posts about the 2016 season: the initial announcement in October, changes between October and December, and then more changes by February.
And now it’s time for my annual look at the difference between was was initially on the calendar for 2016, and what was actually raced – and then I’ll look ahead to what we know about 2016. Prepare for the colour coding!
How did the 2016 calendar change between original publication and racing?
To have a closer look, click on each image, or you can open the PDF version.
Peter van der Veen is one of my favourite commentators on women’s cycling – you should all be following him on twitter, and be checking into Cycling Fever for excellent stats and information about women’s racing.
On Monday 3rd October the organisation behind the Amstel Gold Race (AGR) announced a women’s race on the same day as the men and most likely it will also be included in the Women’s World Tour. Raced on the same day as the men’s race, it will no doubt be a great addition to the WWT with its challenging hilly course. Big crowds and with many media already there, it can be expected to get a lot of attention including TV coverage. It sounds like a success story, but if one looks beyond the actual race, one might see a downside to the story.
But first an introduction to the race. The race is not completely new, not only has there been 3 editions in 2001, 2002, 2003. There is also a race in May called the Boels Rental Hills Classic which is in the same area although it has not the same parcours.
Over the past years, a lot of people have lobbied for a women AGR, reasoning was that while the Dutch riders dominated the women’s cycling, they did not have a real platform to show their skills. As the Amstel Gold Race is considered the 6th Monument and the pinnacle of Dutch cycling, it draws a lot of media attention. However race organiser Leo van Vliet always made excuses not to have the race.
The most used excuses were logistics: it is difficult to have the same on the same day as the course uses a lot of climbs the same time; and economically, not profitable.
When asked by cyclist Marijn de Vries why there was no women AGR in 2015 Van Vliet replied women could race the sportive on Saturday implying that female cyclist were all amateurs.