Ella Picks: Women’s cycling content we loved this week

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

This is a jam-packed edition of Ella Picks. Relive the excitement that was GP Plouay with race reports and loads of video. Preview the Rio Olympic course with Tiffany Cromwell. Catch up on news from the week you might have missed including Lucy Martin’s retirement announcement. Further delve into topics we’ve recently discussed such as pregnant pedalling, mental fitness, and the relationship between bike shops and the female cyclist. And pore over the features that caught our attention — Imogen Smith’s piece on Chicks in the Sticks was my favourite piece of the lot. Happy reading (and watching)!


Trophee d’Or ended last Wednesday and Plouay played host to the final round of the World Cup series on Saturday. While Australia killed it in France, Trophee d’Or (sadly) went largely uncovered by the race organisation, teams and most of the cycling media. If you missed it, you can read our Trophee d’Or wrap-up here.

The links below include the best coverage we’ve seen of Plouay – and if you have not yet watched the last 50 kilometres of World Cup round 10, do yourself a favour and carve out some time to have a look. This was the most exciting, suspenseful and action-packed women’s road race we’ve seen all year.


With full backing from her Boels-Dolmans teammates, Lizzie Armitstead delivered in the finale of what just might have been the most exciting professional women’s road race of the year: the GP de Ploauy-Bretagne World Cup.

GP Ouest France - Plouay 2015 women

Relentless attacks had whittled down the leading group to six with a small gap on a chase group of three in the final three kilometres. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) put in one final attack just beyond the flamme rouge in an effort to avoid a six-up sprint. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) closed the gap. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) jumped with the finish line in plain view moments before Armitstead unleashed her powerful kick.

Five metres from the finish, Armitstead had enough of a gap to zip up her jersey before saluting across the line. Armitstead won her third World Cup of the season six spots ahead of Van der Breggen, and, in doing so, she repeats as World Cup overall winner.

If you missed our race report, you can read that here.

You can read team race reports from:

Here’s the archived video of the live broadcast. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, start at 1:14:45 to watch Armitstead’s last attack with 3.6 kilometres left to race and the tactical run-in the line.

The UCI highlights video includes a fraction of the main bits of action and interviews with the key players.

As usual Wiggle Honda shared additional insight from race day in this short film.


We talked about the first edition of the women’s race at the USA Pro Challenge in last week’s Ella Picks, but we’ve continued to see coverage of the race throughout the week. Kristen Legan’s column for VeloNews paints a particularly vivid picture of the inaugural event.

  1. Mara Abbott’s Daily Camera column: A great weekend of racing should just be the beginning
  2. Kristen Legan’s USA Pro Challenge Journal for VeloNews: Lighting a spark
  3. Dejan Smaic’s USA Pro Challenge photo gallery for VeloNews


We discussed Tiffany Cromwell’s visit to Rio de Janerio for the Olympic test event as part of our Road to Rio series. Cromwell also put together a video diary for CyclingNews that includes footage from Copacabana Beach, a course recon, the men’s test event and Rio’s main tourist attractions.


All our news stories this week come from the world of professional women’s cycling.

  1. UCI offers scholarships for women to attend next Sport Director Course
  2. Lucy Martin to retire from racing
  3. Roxsolt Ladies to target National Road Series in 2016
  4. Roxsolt Ladies adds additional New Zealand riders to roster
  5. Australian women ranked fourth in UCI nation rankings
  6. British Cycling names long list for Richmond World Championships

News-related, this transfer list on Cycling Fever will help you keep track of who is racing where next season.


USA Cycling asks “To ‘Cross or Not to ‘Cross, That Is the Question”. Except we all know that’s not really a question. Because of course you should.

We spoke to Helen Wyman about the new Women Under 23 category that will be introduced for athletes aged 17 to 22 at the 2016 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. Looking for further reading on the subject? Here’s the official release from the UCI.


We stumbled across several stories this week that related to features we’ve recently published on Ella.

Bella Velo. Interior

Ella: More ice cream, less excuses: the perks of pregnant pedalling
Liv: Liv Ambassador Briana Heintzelman on biking, pregnancy and how life as you know it DOES NOT end when you have a baby

Ella: Women are not small men: How gender dictates nutritional needs during training and recovery
Total Women’s Cycling: Ask the Expert: Could low carb diets cause menstrual irregularity in exercising women?

Ella: Weekly Wisdom – Mental fitness and The importance of self-talk
Bicycling: Train your brain to survive the ride

Ella: Building better bike shops to grow women’s cycling
One woman. Many Bicycles: What makes a bike shop attractive to ladies?



Stef Wyman of Matrix Pro Cycling published an updated version of his popular piece on the costs of running a successful women’s cycling team.

Best line: “When we wrote about the costs of running a team two years ago, Nick Hussey of Vulpine said, ‘It is exceptional, almost embarrassingly good value. Cycling as a whole is booming. Everyone wants to be involved. Women’s racing offers immense value on many levels for a potential sponsor.’ This hasn’t changed, and the introduction of the WWT only increases the exceptional good value of the sport.”

Read the whole thing here.


VeloNews was also talking sponsorship dollar this week. They used Team TIBCO as the basis for a discussion around the challenges women’s cycling faces with the current sponsorship model.

Best line: “Jackson’s perspective is direct. To acquire and sustain sponsors, women’s cycling needs television coverage. The UCI has promised more women’s racing, but events like the one-day women’s race at the Tour de France is more of an appeasement. Jackson described it as a circus.”

Read the whole thing here.



Bicycling Magazine writer Molly Hurford is the author of “Saddle, Sore: A Wome-Only Guide to You and Your Bike” which tackles topics including saddle sores, chamois choice, periods, shaving and sex. She shares select tips from her book on Velocio’s website.

Best line: “Try bib shorts. Shorts with suspenders may seem weird if you’re just getting into cycling, but women who’ve been riding a long time—both at a pro level and at an amateur level—tend to agree that bib shorts are a vast improvement on standard shorts. For women, bib shorts are more comfortable, avoiding a potentially tight waistband that digs into our stomachs as we ride—regardless of our weight!”

Read the whole thing.


Cyclists have fully embraced core work. Is pelvic floor work next? Bicycling Magazine says yes.

Best line: A strong pelvic floor can improve breathing and lead to stronger cycling legs, while poor health can lead to bladder problems, including urinary tract infections.

Read the whole thing.



Not new but new to us is this story from Machines for Freedom about the beauty that can be found in getting dropped.

Best line: What this experience allowed me, in addition to miles and miles of potential laid out before me, was the opportunity to graciously accept the help offered to me. You can’t let the thoughts that everyone is annoyed to be waiting for you even enter your head; you just accept the gels and snacks that are passed back to you with more gratitude than you’ve ever felt in your life. And when a rice bar revives you from near death you thank the bike gods for amazing women with spare goodies in their perfectly packed jersey pockets.

Read the whole thing here.


Imogen Smith wrote about a new women’s mountain bike event that set an Australian record for the largest women’s mountain bike event of all-time. The inaugural “Chicks in Sticks” in Brisbane was a women’s-only endurance race involving three hours of riding singletrack over a 5.5km course. From Smith’s account, the event was wildly popular, incredibly inspiring and heaps of fun.

Best line: Although a big part of the event was aimed at welcoming newbies to the sport, the race track at Karingal Scout Camp was proper MTB. Mostly hardpack, 5.5km, the course had some very tight, twisty sections, a few decent hills to sting the legs, some challenging downhill bush stairs, and about 85 percent singletrack. Every root, stone, and sharp thing had been sprayed with pink paint, making line choice a breeze, and for inspiration in times of struggle, motivational signs had been nailed to trees at the toughest spots on the course.

Read the whole thing here.

Ella Reads You Don’t Want to Miss

Catch up on content you may have missed on Ella this week:

This week’s feature image shot by Mr. Challenge Films is of Rachel Neylan following stage two of Trophee d’Or. Neylan won the stage from an elite breakaway to take her first UCI win and the yellow jersey. She would stay in the race lead until the conclusion of the four-day French tour to take her first general classification victory.

Editors' Picks