The Ardennes, Gila, Yorkshire and more: April is jam-packed with women’s cycling events

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 There was a full month of racing in April, which started with the famous and notorious Tour of Flanders on April 2. With four Women’s WorldTour races last month, among them the new women’s races Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it was packed and exciting.

Ella CyclingTips provided this preview article of all the big races in April. We have updated each section with the race outcome and added links to highlights videos or full reports on the race. Before we’re heading into the next month of racing, take a look at the incredible women’s races we had in April.  

Women’s WorldTour standings going into May

General classification
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) – 469
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling) – 429
3. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) – 415
4. Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) – 393
5. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) – 384

Young rider classification
1. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) – 28
2. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) – 10
3. Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling) – 10

Team classification
1. Boels-Dolmans – 1239
2. Team Sunweb – 733
3. Orica-Scott – 714

Tour of Flanders

Sunday, April 2 – Women’s WorldTour – Belgium

The month of April started with the Classics of Classics: the Tour of Flanders. After a thrilling fight between a four-rider breakaway and a chasing group of favourites, it all came together at 1.3 kilometers from the line, after which Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) finished off the teamwork Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand had put in throughout the entire race.

Watch and read about Rivera’s historic win in Flanders, her second in the 2017 Women’s WorldTour.

Watch: Coryn Rivera Becomes First American to Win Tour of Flanders in Nail-biter Finale
Website: rondevanvlaanderen.be
Twitter: @RondeVlaanderen, #RVVWomen

Healthy Ageing Tour

Wednesday, April 5 – Sunday, April 9 – UCI2.2 – The Netherlands

Previously known as the Energiewacht Tour, this hotly contested five-day stage race in the north of the Netherlands will carry the name ‘Healthy Ageing Tour’ for the coming three years. A favourite among the Dutch and German riders, Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) is the only non-German or non-Dutchie who managed to get on the GC podium in previous years when she finished third in 2015 behind Lisa Brennauer and Trixi Worrack. Ellen van Dijk is a two-time winner of the event, and she’ll be going into this event a top favourite.

The 2017 race starts with a double day on April 5, consisting of a 16.9 kilometre individual time trial in the morning and a 77.6 kilometre road race later in the day. It is followed by a team time trial on Thursday, with road races varying between 117.9 and 154.4 kilometres from Friday ’till Sunday.

Only nine UCI teams will travel to the Netherlands for this race with Boels-Dolmans, Team Sunweb, Cervélo-Bigla and Canyon-SRAM highlighting the start list. The peloton is completed by the national selections of the Netherlands and Great-Britain, and five Dutch club teams.

Update
After winning the opening individual time trial, Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) took the Healthy Ageing leader’s jersey, never to lose it again.

Along the way, there were three victories for Boels-Dolmans, including the team time trial, one for Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products) and one for Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM). Brennauer also finished 3rd overall behind Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) in second place.

This is the third time Ellen van Dijk wins this Dutch stage race, representing different teams each time. She won as part of Specialized-Lulemon in 2013 and for Boels-Dolmans in 2016.

Watch: There was a live feed from start to finish each day. Watch highlight videos of the opening ITT in stage 1A,  stage 1B, the stage 2 team time trial, the 154.4 kilometer stage 3, stage 4 and stage 5 on the German island of Borkum.
Website: healthyageingtour.nl
Twitter: @Healthyageingtr, #HAT17

Amstel Gold Race

Sunday, April 16 – Women’s WorldTour – The Netherlands

The Cauberg, where in 2012 Marianne Vos won the UCI Road World Championships.

Last held in 2003, the women’s peloton is thrilled with the return of women’s Amstel Gold Race, an iconic Ardennes race that’s been held as a men’s event since 1966. A women’s event was introduced in 2001, but due to logistical challenges, the event was discontinued just a short three years later.

This Ardennes Classic features no less than 15 climbs,  and the final 3 kilometres of the women’s race will see the peloton tackle the infamous Cauberg, last featured in the 2012 UCI Road World Championships.

Nineteen teams have received an automatic invite through the Women’s WorldTour regulations and Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil and Sport Vlaanderen-Guille d’Or have received a wildcard for this race. Kasia Niewiadoma, Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen are all eyeing a historic first win on the Cauberg so the racing is sure going to be fierce.

Update
The women made the first Amstel Gold Race in fourteen years one to remember. Being ahead of the time schedule for the entire race, with attack following upon attack, a six-rider group led the race on the penultimate climb. From that group, it was Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) who put in the first attack.

It was the one that stuck. She didn’t even need the support of Deignan in the chase group behind, as she powered her way to a solo victory. Deignan won the sprint for second and both Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro cycling) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) were awarded third place, as even the finish photo couldn’t determine who passed the finish line first.

Read our full women’s Amstel Gold Race report with photos and rider reactions.

Where to watch: The last thirty minutes of the race were broadcasted live on NOS, Europe Australia, Europe Asia and Eurosport Player in Europe. Watch UCI’s highlight video of the race here
Website: amstelgoldrace.nl
Twitter: @AmstelGoldRace, #AGRWomen

La Flèche Wallonne Femmes

Wednesday, April 19 – Women’s WorldTour – Belgium

World Cup leader Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) bows her head after being defeated by Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo-Liv) in the 2015 Fleche Wallone.

Taking place in the middle of the Ardennes Week, La Flèche Wallonne is a celebrated Classic that’s been around since 1936. A women’s edition, however, wasn’t added until 1998 but it quickly became a favourite one-day race among riders and fans alike.

RaboLiv has dominated the Flèche Wallonne Femmes in the past years with Marianne Vos winning an impressive five times, Anna van der Breggen with two wins to her name, and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot winning once as well. Now that these riders are all on different teams, we could be treated to a fierce battle.

While the number of climbs has been reduced from last year’s 11 to seven this year, the course favours a climber all the same. Six out of the seven climbs will all take place in the final 45 kilometers of the 120-kilometer race, with a spectacular finale on the famous Mur de Huy, a 1.2 kilometre climb with an average gradient of 10% and a maximum of 24% through the S-bend midway.

Update
In the same dominant form that Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) won the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, she also won the Fleèche Wallonne three days later.

By attacking from a three-rider lead group that was formed at the end of her race, made up of herself, teammate Lizzie Deignan and Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling), she started the final climb up the Mur the Huy solo, arriving at the finish line 16 seconds before Deignan. Niewiadoma rounded out the podium.

Read more about Van der Breggen’s hattrick in the Flèche Wallonne in our full report.

Where to watch: The UCI provided a 10-minute highlight package.
Website: letour.fr/la-fleche-wallonne
Twitter: @flechewallonne, #FWwomen (but you’ll also find #FWF2017 being used)

Tour of the Gila

Wednesday, April 19 – Sunday, April 23 – UCI2.2 – The United States

Mara Abbott thanked Amy D. Foundation teammate Julie Emmerman and the rest of the team for their work during stage 1 of 2016 Tour of the Gila.

When the riders line up in Silver City for the 2017 Tour of the Gila this year, six-time winner Mara Abbott will be notably absent as she retired after the Rio Olympics in 2016. It does, however, opens up possibilities for other climbers to make a name for themselves this year.

With UCI-teams like Colavita-Bianchi, Cylance Pro Cycling, United Healthcare, Hagens Berman-Supermint, Rally Cycling, Sho-Air Twenty20, Team Tibco-SVB and Visit Dallas-DNA lining up for the 2017 edition, the elite races will be hotly contested.

The battle for the GC win will be fought over the course of five stages: three point-to-point road races, a  time trial over two climbs and a criterium.

Update
The United Healthcare squad dominated the race, winning the first stage and taking all three podium spots in stage five. Along the way, there were stage wins for Lex Albrecht (Team Tibco), Leah Thomas (Sho Air-Twenty20) and Emma White (Rally Cycling).

The overall was won by United Healthcare’s Tayler Wiles, with Katie Hall taking second. Thomas rounded out the GC podium.

Website: tourofthegila.com
Twitter: @TouroftheGila, #Gila2017

Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Sunday, April 23  – Women’s WorldTour – Belgium

With the addition of a women’s  Liège-Bastogne-Liège event, for the first time in history, women will have a full Ardennes week, just like the men’s peloton. Held alongside and on the same courses as the Classic men’s races, the Ardennes week kicks off with the Amstel Gold Race followed by la Flèche Wallonne Femmes  and ending with Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The women start in Bastogne and travel north, with the first climb after 82.5 kilometers, the Côte de la Vecquée. They then enter the same route as the men, taking on three important climbs, the Côtes de la Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons and Saint-Nicolas. After 135.5 kilometers, the women’s peloton will finish in Ans.

Twenty-four teams, with all the big teams present, will line-up for the first ever women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 23,. Who will be crowned the queen of the Ardennes?

Update
Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) made it a clean sweep in the Ardennes, with teammate Lizzie Deignan taking second again. Read our full report on the race in which Van der Breggen crowned herself Queen of the Ardennes.

Alternatively, read Ella editor Anne-Marije’s celebration of the Olympic champion in her new team colours.

Watch: The UCI provided a 10-minute highlight package
Website: letour.fr/liege-bastogne-liege-femmes
Twitter: @LiegeBastogneL, #LBLF2017

Festival Elsy Jacobs

Friday, April 28 – Sunday, April 30 – UCI2.1 – Luxembourg

Kasia Niewiadoma

Named after the very first women’s world champion, Festival Elsy Jacobs celebrates women’s cycling with three days of hard racing through Luxembourg.

The race kicks of with a short prologue followed by two hilly road races. A stage race for the climbers, previous winners include Kasia Niewiadoma, Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley.

The 2017 edition will bring out eleven UCI teams, several national teams as well as some wildcard club teams for a mixed but very competitive field.

Update
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio proved she’s back with her prologue win on Friday night. Home rider Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) was able to celebrate a win for the first time in the race that is organised by her local cycling club, as she won stage 1 and took the leader’s jersey going into the final stage of the race.

With a fourty-rider group sprinting for the win in stage 2, which was won by Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal), Majerus’ lead wasn’t in danger anymore. She is the first Luxemburg rider ever to win this race and it’s her first UCI win in her home country.

Watch: The final 1-2 hours of each stage were live streamed on the race website. We haven’t come across highlights videos yet, but if we do, we will post links here.
Website: elsy-jacobs.lu
Twitter: @Festival_Elsy, #elsy17

Tour de Yorkshire

Saturday, April 29 – UCI1.1 – Great-Britain

With a record prize purse for women, the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire attracted a strong field, and it was world-class sprinter Kirsten Wild who took home the £15,000 check for her team, Hitec Products.

With a length of 122.5 kilometers and only one climb on the route,  a bunch sprint is once again imminent.

Thirteen UCI teams, including Boels-Dolmans with home town hero Lizzie Deignan, along with five British club teams, will take to the start in Tadcaster for the second edition of the Tour of Yorkshire.

Update 
With a slight change to the route, more suited to the qualities of home rider Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans), it would have been hard to beat her, even if the team lined up with only five riders. Out of an elite group of three, consisting of the ‘usual suspects’ Deignan, teammate Van der Breggen and Briton Dani King (Cylance Pro Cycling), Deignan launched an early attack to arrive solo in front of a cheering home crowd.

Watch: There was coverage of the women’s race on ITV4 and Eurosport. Here’s a short highlights video of the race. 
Website: letour.yorkshire.com/womens-race
Twitter: @letouryorkshire, #WTDY

Other interesting women’s cycling events this month

8-10 April: Women’s Tour of Thailand, Thailand, UCI2.1
22 April: EPZ Omloop van Borssele, The Netherlands, UCI1.1
25 April: GP della Liberazione PINK, Italy, UCI1.2
26-30 April: Vuelta Femenina Internacional a Costa Rica, Costa Rica, UCI2.2
27-30 April: Gracia Orlova, Czech Republic, UCI2.2

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Which race are you most looking forward to in April?

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