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Wow, what a season it’s been! With the combination of 2016 being an Olympic year and the introduction of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, women’s cycling kicked it up a notch and fans have been treated to a spring and summer filled with thrilling races.
Now, as the leaves start turning and cyclocross season looms, the Women’s WorldTour will come to an end this weekend at La Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta. The good news, however, is that the action along Paseo de la Castellana on September 11 will be broadcasted in 190 countries!
What you need to know about the 2016 La Madrid Challenge
Following in the footsteps of the Tour de France and its La Course event, La Vuelta in 2015 also added a women’s race on the final day of the men’s three week stage race through Spain.
Similar to La Course, La Madrid Challenge is little more than a criterium, taking place on the final circuit where the men’s peloton will arrive later that day. The women will ride 15 laps on the city circuit for a total of 85.5 kilometers.
La Madrid Challenge hasn’t acquired the same prestige as La Course yet, but race coverage and exposure is still far above average for women’s cycling and therefore the women’s peloton is eager to ride here and the racing will be fierce.
How the race was won in 2015
Who to watch
Nineteen teams will line up for the Madrid Challenge on Sunday, with three top teams represented. Canyon-SRAM, Cervélo-Bigla and Rabo-Liv –currently active in the Lotto Belgium Tour until Friday–have all decided to not travel to Spain.
Other notable absences are Women’s WorldTour leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and last year’s winner Shelley Olds (Cylance Pro Cycling).
With a flat circuit it will be the sprinters that stand the biggest chance of a Madrid victory, so look out for 2016 La Course winner Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High5), her teammate Amy Pieters and Hitec Products’ Kirsten Wild.
Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) will be eager to defend her second place in the Women’s WorldTour ranking. Her determination combined with her sprint qualities make her a serious contender for the victory.
Guarnier may have secured the overall win in the WorldTour series, but Boels-Dolmans has plenty of other powerhouse riders. Look for Chantal Blaak and Amalie Dideriksen to do well on this course.
The last Women’s WorldTour event, the GP Plouay, saw a surprise winner with Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljublana) taking the honours. The smaller teams should therefore not be discounted.
The final Women’s WorldTour race
Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) has already secured the overall Women’s WorldTour victory, but the battle is still on for the podium places and, of course, the final UCIWWT individual race victory.
The Women’s WorldTour runner-up position is currently taken by Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur), who jumped to second place after the Sweden races, but there are still a handful of riders are in contention for the Women’s WorldTour podium.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) meanwhile has secured the young rider jersey. And since Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) is out with injury, Parkhotel Valkenburg’s Jip van den Bos will likely take second place in the youngster classification.
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 914
2. Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) – 586
3. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 545
4. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) – 519
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 511
Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 36
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 18
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 14
How to follow the race
As always Twitter is the best way to follow women’s races, but the race will also be broadcasted in 190 countries!
The race is on Sunday, Sept. 11, starting at 2:45 p.m. local time ( that’s 1:45 p.m. UK BST; 8:45 a.m. North American EDT; 10:45 p.m. Australian AEST). Check your local listings –Eurosport, UniversalSport, SBS — for broadcasting details. If you’re watching from your computer, head over to Procycling Live, Steephill and Cycling Fans for links.
More information about the race can be found on the official website.
Who is your favourite for the 2016 La Madrid Challenge?