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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Podcast 2016 Episode 36 – EPIC (That’s a Technical Term)

Podcast logoHey remember that time a few days ago when Sarah and Dan started talking about all the Best of the Year categories that VeloVoices are going to be holding voting on this week, and it took them an hour to get through the first category? Well they’re back! And this time they’re determined to get through all of the other categories (including the two extra ones that Sarah made up so that she could fit everyone in that she wanted to) no matter how long it takes!

Look, we’re not gonna lie, this podcast is EPIC (that’s a technical term). It’s huge. It’s long enough to be a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s got more plot, more drama and more action than your standard Hollywood blockbuster, so there’s that! How could it not be when we’re discussing Best Race Finish of the Year, Best Breakthrough Rider of the Year, Unsung Heroines of the Peloton for the Year, Unsung Heroes/Heroines Behind the Scenes and Step-Up Rider of the Year?

So many great and worthy nominees, so much to argue about! Make sure you’re stocked up on time and refreshments, this one’s perfect for that long drive to see all your extended family for the holidays. Here goes… (1:59:50 MIN / 109.72MB)

You can get free automatic updates from our RSS feed here or via the iTunes store here.

And listen to, and read, our nominations for 2016 women’s cycling Rider of the Year.

Best race finish

There were so, so many fantastic racing moments this season, and it was especially exciting as we got more live racing, and long highlights, than ever before.  In chronological order…

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Meet some of the 2016 Paralympic Cycling women – Part 6, H1-3 handcyclists

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-21-21-37Because the Rio 2016 Paralympic Road Cycling isn’t being televised, I’ve been writing about some of the women who’ll be contesting the races, because they are such fantastic athletes with great stories, with some real jaw-dropping achievements.  You can read about the H4 and H5 handcyclists here, and the final installment is all about the H1-3 riders.  I can absolutely guarantee you won’t be disappointed by these women!

I described handcycling a little bit in that other piece, and as a reminder, in Rio there are two combined-category Handcycling ITTs on Wednesday 14th September – H4-5 and H1-3, with 1 gold in each, while the road races are H1-4 and H5 on 15th – and the startlists and livetimings should be available via the racing schedule.

As always, I haven’t managed to get to all of the riders, so if I’ve missed any facts, or your favourites, please let me know in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll edit the information in.  And after the riders, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the courses.

So who’s competing in the H1, H2 and H3 categories?

Justine Asher, H2, South Africa

She’s only on her fourth year handcycling, and has won two World Championships golds.  Finding funding is very difficult for her, as there isn’t much funding for cycling, let alone paracycling, in  South Africa, but she’s hoping to inspire other disabled South Africans to get involved in sports, and raise awareness – in in turn, funding!

She’s had an interesting life – a former fashion model, who sued a biotech company for fraudulent stem cell treatment, and seems to have won.  She says her husband and children’s support is what enables her to race – and you can find out more in this Video profile, and another one here, including her talking about becoming World Champion – follow her on twitter

You can also watch her swim with sharks…

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Meet some of the 2016 Paralympic Cycling women – Part 5, Trike riders

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-21-21-37As we’re into the Road Cycling races at the 2016 Paralympic Games, and unfortunately they’re not being streamed or broadcast, I’m writing about some of the riders competing in the Time Trials and Road Races.  I’ve looked at the Tandem pairs, C1-3 and C4-5 bike riders and the H1-3 and  the H4-5 Handcyclists, and now it’s time for the smallest Paracyling category, the tricycle riders.

The main reason a rider would use a trike is if she had a condition that affects her balance, for example Cerebal Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, or a brain injury.  Some riders use bikes adapted to three wheels, and others are specially designed for racing.  racing trikes can be expensive, are heavier, and less maneuverable than 2 wheel bikes, especially taking corners and on any kind of off-camber surface – although watching the top tricyclists cornering is a thing of beauty.  There two subcategories of UCI trike riders, T1 and T2, with T1 riders more effected by their disabilities than the T2s, but their races are combined for the Paralympics, with only 1 gold.

The Tricycle Individual Time Trials are on Wednesday 14th September, and the Road Race is on Friday 16th, and I’ll tell you a little bit about the course underneath the rider information.  If you click those links, you’ll get the startlists, live timing for the ITT and hopefully for the Road Race too.

Let’s have a look at some of the riders racing trikes in Rio

Carol Cooke, T2, Australia

Cooke is a Canadian who had worked in the Police Force, including working with in an undercover drug squad, before moving to Australia in 1994 and taking citizenship.  She talks about how when she was first diagnosed with MS in 1998, she was told to basically prepared to die – you can watch a video about that, and how she coped with change.  But obviously she didn’t, citing cycling as what keeps her out of a wheelchair – and now she’s in Rio, aged 55, racing her third Paralympics

Her first was in Beijing, where she was a Para-rower, before switching to Para-cycling, after buying a trike “on a whim”, and winning gold in the mixed gender T1-2 ITT at the London Games.  As a born-and-bred Londoner, I love how she talked about 2012 in this video:

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Meet some of the 2016 Paralympic Cycling women – Part 4, H4-5 handcyclists

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-21-21-37We’ve moved from the 2016 Paralympic Track Cycling to the Road, and a category we haven’t seen yet in Rio – handcyclists.

Handcycling is ridden on bikes were the riders us their hands to pedal.  They can be recumbent, or riders can sit in them, depending on the categories, which run from H1-5.  As with all Paralympic categories, the lower the number, the more the athlete’s disability affects their sport, so an H1 handcyclist may be a paraplegic, and have limited movement in their torso, while an H5 rider may half, for example, a missing leg, and sit in her handbike.

There are two combined-category Handcycling ITTs on Wednesday 14th September – H4-5 and H1-3, with 1 gold in each, while the road races are H1-4 and H5 on 15th – and the startlists and livetimings should be available via the racing schedule.

None of the Road races will be streamed live, so I’ll tell you a bit about some of the women riders.  I haven’t managed to get to all of them, so if I’ve missed any facts, or your favourite riders, please let me know in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll edit the information in.  And after the riders, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the courses.

So who’s racing?  I’ll start with the H4 and H5 handcyclists…

Laura de Vaan, H5, Netherlands

It’s her third Paralympics, and she’ll be looking to beat London, where she ended up with two medals – silver in the Road Race and bronze in the ITT.  She has to be one of the big riders to beat as the current Time Trial World Champion.  And if you want to find out about a handbiker, who better to ask questions than another handbiker?  Check out this interview with her by Christiane Reppe:

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Meet some of the 2016 Paralympic Cycling women – Part 3, C4-5 bike riders

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-21-21-37I’m pulling together a series looking at some of the women who’ll be racing on the road in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.  So far I’ve looked at the Tandem riders and C1-3 bike riders – and now it’s time for the C4-5 riders.

There are separate Individual Time Trials for the C4 and C5 riders, on Wednesday 14th September, and then a combined Road Race on Saturday 17th, with one one gold.

The bike riders are the  biggest Paralympic cycling category, and there are 5 levels, with C1 being the riders whose disabilites impact their cycling the most, and C5 the least.  There are a mix of visible and invisible disabilities within the same category – and different disabilities impact cycling in different ways – for example, a rider who can’t grip as hard, or pull on the bars, could find the climbing hard than a rider with a prosthetic etc.  Bikes may be modified to help riders in different ways, too.

Let’s look at the riders

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Katell Alençon, C4, France

Most of the Road riders have also ridden Track, but not French woman Alençon.  It’s strange, seeing how strong France are in the able-bodied Olympics, that they’re not developing Paracyclists as well, but Alonçon is bucking that treand.  It’s her first Games at 28, and although she started cycling aged 5, she started off as a wheelchair racer before moving to racing bikes

She won the ITT and Road Race in the Bilbao round of the 2016 Para-cycling Road World Cup.  There’s more about her in this article, and this video

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Meet some of the 2016 Paralympic Cycling women – Part 2, C1-3 bike riders

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-21-21-37We’ve just finished a fantastic set of Track Cycling races that were all broadcast live – but since the Rio 2016 Paralympic Road Races won’t be televised, I thought I’d tell you a bit about some of the women who’ll be racing.  Of course I don’t have space for all of them, so if you have fun facts about riders I’ve missed, please do tell me, in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll edit it in.

I’ve looked at the Tandem riders already, and now it’s the turn of the C1-3 Bike riders.  By far the biggest Paralympic category is riders on bicycles, and there are 5 categories, with C1 being the riders whose disabilites impact their cycling the most, and C5 the least.  There are a mix of visible and invisible disabilities within the same category – and different disabilities impact cycling in different ways – for example, a rider who can’t grip as hard, or pull on the bars, could find the climbing hard than a rider with a prosthetic etc.  Bikes may be modified to help riders in different ways, too.

The women’s C1-3 categories race together for just 1 gold – the Time Trial on Wednesday 14th September, and the Road Race on Friday 16th – the schedule is here, and I hope there’ll be some form of live-timing.  I’ve put some information about the races at the bottom of the post – along with how I’ll be following them.

So, who’s racing?

Roxanne Burns, C3, South Africa

Roxy Burns is on her third Paralympics, and she’ll be racing the ITT in Rio, her last Paralympics at 28, and she’s looking to end on a high.  As her genetic condition, Ataxia Telangiectasia, is degenerative, she’s recently been reclassified from a C4 to a C3, and came 10th in the 500m and 11th in the Individual Pursuit.   She is this positive person, who has said:

I’m blessed to have AT so mildly. In fact, I’m grateful that I’m disabled. People find it strange when I say that, but I wouldn’t have had so many opportunities or have met so many people from all over the world otherwise.

Find out more about her in this article,She talks a little bit about some of the issues with the categories in the video below, and how her medical condition effects her cycling, including not being able to train as much.  Follow her on twitter at @roxy_burns.

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