Ella Picks: Mud, tears, motors and rainbows

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Every week we scan the internet for the interesting stories of women’s cycling that deliver unique insight, inspire or simply make us laugh and round them all up in a weekly news digest.

There has been plenty happening this week, both good and bad. We have revelled in the mud of the cyclocross, hung our heads in disappointment as the much talked of possibility of mechanical doping became more than speculation, waved goodbye to the summer season of racing in Australia and looked ahead to the start of the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

Sadly the exciting racing at the UCI World Cyclocross Championships was overshadowed by the revelation that Belgian under-23 rider Femke van den Driessche is under investigation over what the UCI has described as technological fraud, after a motor was found in her bike during the U23 championship race on Saturday.

According to UCI regulation 12.1.013, if sanctioned Van den Driessche is looking at a six month ban at minimum and a substantial fine for her and the team involved. At this point, it is unconfirmed whether Van den Driessche’s trade team or the Belgian Federation were aware or involved in the technical fraud.

UCI president Brian Cookson delivered a warning at a media conference. “We will be testing more bikes, more often, more frequently. Our message to those choosing to cheat is that we will catch up with you sooner or later,” he stated. “We are committed to protecting the riders that do not want to cheat and to make sure that the right riders win the races.” Read on

What’s your take on motorised doping? What should the penalties be if it’s proven and should the age of the rider be take into account when sanctions are being decided?

Now onto the actual racing. It was a win for the Dutch at the 2016 UCI World Cyclocross Championships, with Thalita de Jong charging across the line first to take the rainbow jersey while an excited Caroline Mani from France took second. Clear favourite, Belgium’s Sanne Cant, took third and stood on the podium fighting back tears as she struggled with the obvious disappointment of missing out on the top spot for a second year running. British rider Evie Richards won the first Under 23 women’s race at the UCI World Cyclocross Championships.

You can see the race report and photo gallery on Ella and watch the highlights video from the UCI below.

Further down the elite women’s field, American Kaitlin Antonneau confirmed her arrival as a top contender, with the 24 year-old delivering an eighth place and being the first to finish rider from a nation which has long looked to veteran rider Katie Compton to deliver results for the United States.

For cyclocross newcomer, Australia, a poorly-timed illness forced national champion Lisa Jacobs, who had been methodically working toward a top 20 finish, to pull out of the race.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Australia. It was the biggest team yet for the fledgling cyclocross nation and with three elite women making it to the finish line it was a substantial step-up on to the world stage for a country that first introduced a national championship race just three years ago.

Australia wrapped up the women’s summer season of racing, where Australian professional riders returning home plus some warm weather seeking international riders deliver a whole new level of competition.

The season finished with the women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, which received a UCI 1.2 ranking for the first time this year. Orica-AIS finished off a dream run, with national champion Amanda Spratt taking first and Rachel Neylan second. Danielle King of Wiggle High5 rounded out the podium with third while teammate Chloe Hosking won the bunch sprint for fourth.

You can see our race report and photo gallery, but for some additional perspective you can watch the jubilation of the team that took the first two spots in the race on the Orica-AIS backstage pass.

Then there is this entertaining blog post from Hosking who has this year transformed herself from a hill-hating sprinter, to lift her performances on the undulating courses of Australia in January. She featured heavily in the action at the end of the race and this is how she describes Spratt’s race winning break.


“I covered another attack by Rach before Spratty went from the back. I missed it. She was gone. This was a red alert situation.

People talk about split second decisions and reacting quickly in cycling. I made the wrong decision not to jump with Spratty and Dani and I reacted too slowly to begin our chase. By the time we started rolling Spratty had a gap of over 10 seconds.

I drove it down the descent into the third last climb and used the sweeping left hand corner to sling-shot myself up the bottom half of the climb. I felt like I could almost reach out and grab Spratty. Ah, the cruel tricks climbs play on your perception of distance and time.”

Read on 

You can see more of her lively prose on Ella CyclingTips this week as she provides us with rider diaries from the Tour of Qatar.

The Wiggle High5 team manager and owner, Rochelle Gilmore, was also delivering some interesting insights this week on her Cyclingnews blog, as she revealed the challenges the team had to overcome for Wiggle High5 to make it to Australia’s two new UCI ranked races at late notice. It sheds some light on why the big international teams were thin on the ground even with the elevated UCI status of two key women’s races in Australia’s summer season of racing. Link to the blog here.

Carlee Taylor (Lotto-Soudal) made her Tour of Flanders debut on Sunday

In other racing news, there was the welcome announcement that part of the women’s Tour of Flanders would be broadcast live on television. Read the release from race organisers here.

If you are in Australia and looking for a way back into cycling after an absence, know someone who is starting out fresh or just want to brush up on your skills and find people to ride with Cycling Australia’s She Ride’s program is back. You can find out more in this release and on the She Rides website.

More than 300 women in the US applied for the Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship and Gear Junkie talked to those involved to find out more about the initiative.

The scholarship, which is in its third year, covers tuition and lodging at the United Bicycle Institute’s (UBI) Professional Shop Repair and Operations Workshop in Ashland, Oregon.

The goal of the workshop is to bring more women into the bike industry and grow female ridership overall, says Lori Richman at Quality Bicycle Products, one of the program’s sponsors. (Other title sponsors include UBI, SRAM, RockShox, and Park Tool).

“Women who are technically knowledgeable and who are working in bike shops create a more welcoming environment for women riders,”Richman said.

Read on


  • The Cycling Australia Track National Championships start on Wednesday, and the evening sessions will be live streamed. Find out how to watch here.
  • The SBS Cycling Central site took a look at five of the raddest moments in Australian women’s cycling this January. Of course Bridie O’Donnell’s new UCI World Hour Record was among them but if you want to find out what the others are read on.
  • Those trying fit in bike time around family may find some handy hints in this piece called 3 ways to fit in trainer workouts when you have kids by Arleigh Jenkins, otherwise known as Bike Shop Girl.
  • Finally, if you aren’t quite ready to leave the Australian summer of racing behind here is a selection of photos from before the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race from The Peloton Brief.


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