Ella Picks returns to its regularly scheduled Monday time slot – and we’ve got loads of links for you. Catch up on all the race action from the last 10 days out of Norway, Sweden, Colorado and France — including lots of videos! Read up on the latest news stories about the end of Velocio-SRAM and the start of the Women’s World Tour. Peruse blogs from Ally Stacker about Leadville 100 and Mara Abbott on the Giro Rosa. And discover the features that caught our attention — the body image piece from Bicycling Magazine is my favourite. Happy reading (and watching)!
Four races have started or ended (or both) since our last Ella Picks 10 days ago. The links below don’t represent comprehensive coverage of any of the events but share the best of what we’ve seen out of each.
LADIES TOUR OF NORWAY
The Ladies Tour of Norway was a new addition to the UCI women’s calendar in 2014 — and it proved to be a hugely popular event. Coming a week before the Swedish World Cups, the two-day stage race entices teams to Scandinavia with back-to-back race weekends and the opportunity to host a mini team camp between the two sets of races.
Shelley Olds (Alé Cipollini) won the Ladies Tour of Norway warm-up criterium and Megan Guarnier (Boel-Dolmans) went on to win the first of the two stages of the UCI event from a two-rider breakaway while Olds won the stage sprint. Guarnier’s gap on day one proved big enough to give her the general classification win.
We’re digging these photo galleries from Sean Robinson out of Norway:
This highlight video offers you a taste of the sights and sounds the women’s peloton experienced during the race weekend – oh and the spectacular racing, too:
VÅRGÅRDA WORLD CUPS
The “Little Tour of Scandinavia,” as Swede Emma Johansson has dubbed the double weekend of racing, continued with two World Cups in Sweden. Vårgårda is the only town to play host to two rounds of the UCI Women Road World Cup – a team time trial and a road race.
Rabo Liv took an exciting victory in the team time trial as they beat three-time defending champions and three-time team time trial world champions Velocio-SRAM by 26 seconds in the collective race against the clock. It was Wiggle Honda’s turn to celebrate two days later as Jolien d’Hoore led a Wiggle Honda one-two in the road race and pulled on the World Cup overall leader’s jersey for her efforts.
If you missed our World Cup reports, that’s a great place to start your reading:
- A changing of the guard in Vårgårda: Rabo Liv wins team time trial World Cup
- Jolien d’Hoore sprints to Vårgårda victory to pull on World Cup leader’s jersey
You can also read Wiggle Honda’s take on the World Cup win in their race report. Here.
Beyond the reports, there’s plenty of photos and videos to peruse. Both Sean Robinson (Velofocus) and Balint Hamvas (cyclephotos) were on-site in Sweden. We’re going to hold off on sharing Robinson’s images with you – as we’ll be putting those to use in another way here shortly – but you can find Hamvas’ images here.
We’ve got lots of video options for you out of Sweden, too.
Here are the two UCI highlights videos – team time trial on top followed by the road race:
Wiggle Honda, as has been their usual this season, had a video crew on site and produced this clip from the team time trial. We’re eagerly awaiting their video from d’Hoore’s road race win.
I was lucky enough to be on-site in Sweden, and this video is my interview with d’Hoore prior to podium. Thanks to Felix Matthis for working with me on this.
USA PRO CHALLENGE
A new women’s race on the calendar that we’re guessing will have UCI status next year is the three-day USA Pro Challenge. The stage race opened with an individual time trial in Breckinridge and ended with a criterium in Golden and there was a road race sandwiched between the two as well.
A photo posted by USA Pro Challenge (@usaprochallenge) on
Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16 – ShoAir) won the opening stage time trial to pull on the first USA Pro Challenge women’s leader’s jersey, and she held onto her race lead all the way through to the finish. En route from Breckinridge to Golden, Tayler Wiles (DNA) won stage two from a breakaway, and Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) sprinted to victory on stage three.
You can read brief race reports here:
Bonus content out of Colorado includes:
- Kristin Armstrong back to racing, enjoying every moment
- For women riders, Colorado stage race with equal prize money is step forward
- A day in the life: U.S. cyclist Mara Abbott
The only race of the lot that is still underway, Trophee d’Or began on Sunday, August 23, with a double day of racing: a morning individual time trial and an abbreviated afternoon road stage. The Subaru High5 Australian National Team is racing the four-day, five-stage French tour which ends on Wednesday, August 26.
Martin Barras previews the race here – worth a read although the race has already started.
— Kimberley Wells (@Kimbers_Wells) August 23, 2015
The team has already had a taste of success as Kimberley Wells snagged her first European stage win. We expect this is only the beginning.
IN THE NEWS
Several news stories generated a lot of chatter over the last 10 days. By now you’ve likely heard that Velocio-SRAM, in its current incarnation, is coming to a close at the end of the season, but have you heard that sport director Ronny Lauke is launching a new team in 2016?
Ella editor Anne-Marije Rook spoke with Velocio-SRAM team owner Kristy Scrymgeour. If you missed her piece, you can catch up here.
The Women’s World Tour generated a fresh wave of interest when the UCI published additional information about the new format on its website last week.
Here are the two document published by the UCI from which people seem to be getting most of their information:
These two pieces by VeloNews were among the best we’ve read recently:
- Women’s WorldTour takes shape, improves media presence
- Women’s peloton reacts to new WorldTour format
- Amy Pieters announced her departure from Liv-Plantur (but has yet to announce her new home)
- Annemiek van Vleuten’s recovery following injuries sustained when hit by a car while training is going far better than expected
- The Netherlands has named its team for the 2015 Richmond World Championships
- Bonus piece: here’s the UCI’s qualification system and quote document
WORDS WITH PROS
Here are our four favourite blogs, interviews, feature stories, etc. with pro riders this week:
- Ally Stacher on Leadville 100
- Mara Abbott reflects on success and failure following the Giro Rosa
- Q&A with three-time Australian cyclocross national champion Lisa Jacobs following her three-eat
- What makes a champion tick? Q&A with Marianne Vos
IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT SADDLE
The author of this piece in the Guardian uses personal anecdotes to explain the benefits of a professional bike fit. The feature ends with top tips for saddle selection – all of which we endorse.
Best line: “I owe quite a few people an apology. To everyone over the years who got a new bike and moaned about their bottom hurting, only for me to say breezily, “you just need to break your bum in”: I’m sorry. I was wrong. Having hit it lucky with the saddle which came with my old road bike seven years ago, I didn’t understand the very real pain that comes with a seat that rubs you up in all the wrong ways.”
BE BODY POSITIVE
This piece in Bicycling Magazine is a few weeks old, but it somehow didn’t come to my attention until just last week. Written in response to comments about Serena Williams’ body in a New York Times article “Be Proud of Your Body” opens with an apology to Chris Froome, points to the ridiculous standards to which women’s bodies are held even within sport and encourages women to embrace the one body they’ve got.
Best line: “I hope there aren’t women or men out there who ride less than they’d like or differently than they’d like because they’re concerned that their too big/too small biceps/quads/lats/calves will make them unattractive. I can’t think of anything more sad. Your body is the only one you’ve got. It’s made to do things—like ride bikes and swing tennis racquets and hug people you love and jump for joy. It is to be lived through, not reserved for show like an empty, lifeless model home. If you’re concerned about being “unattractive” because you have big strong legs or broad shoulders, ask yourself “unattractive to whom?” And maybe more importantly, ‘Why do I want to be attractive to someone who isn’t attracted to the real, active, bike-riding me?’ ”
USA Cycling published this primer on how to prepare for your first cyclocross race. It covers gear, pre-race preparation, what to bring to a race and includes links for further reader.
Best line: “You will lay your bike down at least once in your first race, most likely in a particularly deep section of thick mud. You must be willing to laugh at yourself and realize that your hecklers are the embodiment of that old saying, ‘laughing with you, not at you.’ Do not take yourself seriously in your first race (or even your first season!). Just enjoy the hilarity of being covered in mud and remember that you used to do this every day when you were a kid. It was wonderful then and it’s more wonderful now. It’s the least expensive therapy you’ll ever have.”
MENTAL TOUGHNESS AND THE ELITE ATHLETE
We have Gracie Elvin to thank for the hat tip on this one. Not cycling specific but certainly cycling relevant, this piece is part book review and part an introduction to metacognition – the process of recognising thought patterns and gaining some control over what our brains do with all the thoughts we think.
Best line: “Clews says for elite athletes today, interacting with social media is a strain and a mental drain, even when the content is positive. An avalanche of well-wishers’ messages before an event raise expectations and make athletes anxious about disappointing those who support and believe in them. On the negative side, every time they go out on the weekend they have people on social media commenting on their performance. There’s a lot of trolling and nastiness.”
Ella Reads You Don’t Want to Miss
Here are a few of my favourite stories published on Ella in the last week:
- Women are not small men: How gender dictates nutritional needs during training and recovery
- Weekly Wisdom: Stay in the comfort zone or strive to go further?
- Anything is possible: a Route de France wrap-up with Kimberley Wells
- What I learned by playing soigneur for a week
- Behind the lens with Balint Hamvas: “The biggest revelation for me is how awesome women’s road racing is.”