Martine Bras had a long and distinguished cycling career, racing everything but especially the Spring Classics, so it was fantastic to talk to her about what it’s like for riders preparing for the season, and especially Saturday’s 2016 Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Our conversation included Martine’s transition from professional cyclist to motherhood, how the sport changed since she started, who she’d put into her fantasy DS team, and much more. All of that is in the audio interview to listen to (or download directly from Soundcloud) but you can also read part of the interview below as well.
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ProWomensCycling: I always think the Spring Classics were your specialty – would you say that?
Martine Bras: Oh yes. I would train all winter long for the Spring Classics, and I think I forgot a little bit that there was something after them as well! Because they’re really need my house, and I worked so hard all winter, and was really looking forward to starting to race, I think that’s why I was good at them, because I was so passionate about it.
PWC: I always thought of you as a very attacking rider, and the Spring Classics reward that.
We cover all the latest transfer news and what the hell it means for all these teams. (Who’s going to lead what now?) And more importantly what it means for us fans (MORE EXCITEMENT!) There’s racing to discuss, with the end of the MTB enduro series and the beginning of the European cyclocross season. This week it’s Sarah’s turn to go on a rant! (I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that it’s about para-cycling.) Also, we preview the 2015 racing calendar and declare it an early victory with more race days on the cards AND some very exciting looking new races to look forward to. (1:09:48 MIN / 67.01 MB)
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Links and things we talked about this week
The UCI road calendar for 2015 is here (you might need to play with the drop-down menu to get to the women) and UPDATE! here’s part one of Sarah’s posts about it on Podium Café – with diagrams and tables, and comparisons with 2014.
Sarah’s collecting all the transfer news in a Podium Café post, and there’s tons of gossip, speculation and conversation in the comments. This week’s big news was Wiggle Honda’s announcement that they’re hiring two-time Giro champion Mara Abbott and young British champion Anna Christian for 2015. And Sharon Laws is another rider moving to Bigla
This week’s racing
Today was meant to be the start of the 6-stage Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon. This should be a UCI 2.2 race, and was billed at the beginning of the return of the Tour de l’Aude, which when it as cancelled in 2011, was one of only three women’s races allowed over a week by the UCI.
The race has a dodgy history. Last year it was cancelled just two weeks before it was due to start, but the organisers have been telling everyone it was due to go ahead this year…. until yesterday, when riders had arrived, or were in the air/on the road, when they were told it was cancelled. Then they were told to stick around because it *might* go ahead, or might be a shortened race…. it’s completely ridiculous. Yes, of course it’s hard to organise races, but it shows no respect at all to the riders and teams not to give them some warning, before they book travel, let alone before they arrive.
This is very important because the women’s teams don’t have enough cash to be wasting money on getting to the bottom of France, only to have to pay to go home again. And it’s key preparation for the only Grand Tour left, the Giro Rosa, and there aren’t other races to swap to. But it’s also important because of what it says about women’s cycling – and how the UCI and cycling media sees it. If you looked on the UCI’s website, or on Cyclingnews,
Velonation or Velonews right now, you’d find nothing about this – it’s not news. This is crazy! There are so many questions raised – like, what are the UCI going to do about the women’s calendar? Why do they give UCI rankings to races like this and the Exergy Tour, that are cancelled after the season starts, when there have been very clear signs that the organisations are in trouble? And yes, why will the news outlets go crazy about Wiggins talking about “riding like a girl” but won’t even mention that women are being prevented from riding?
It’s that time of year again – new kits! New sites!
I’m inspired by two things – firstly, the brand-new Boels-Dolmans website and kit. Last year they were Dolmans-Boels, but Boels Rental has stepped up their support, putting more money, and a nice long commitment into the team, and also taking on a multi-year sponsorship of the Holland Ladies Tour. Hooray for Boels! Next time I need to hire some major earth-moving equipment, I’m DEFINITELY going through them!