The SHEcret Pro: La Course, the Giro, disc brakes, transfer rumours and more

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Hey peeps. Yep, I’m back! Licking my wounds a bit from some of the responses I got on my last article, but with wit, humour and honesty, hopefully I can win some of you guys back.

Hot topic: La Course

It being July, there is pretty much only one race everyone in the cycling world is talking about – the Tour de France, of course. I admit, I love the Tour, too, but it is a shame that the one grand tour us women have, the Giro Rosa, takes place at the same time as the biggest sporting event of the year. Every year! I mean no disrespect when I say this, but I am pretty sure I know what most cycling enthusiasts would choose if given an opportunity to watch the TdF or the women’s Giro d’Italia. And it ain’t the latter!

Which makes watching the Giro Rosa (a.k.a reading Twitter) even harder amongst all the #vivalatour posts!

So how do we solve this? I propose we have the Giro Rosa earlier. Yes, I know there are many factors that come into play when organising dates for races, but I feel like the easiest way for women’s cycling to get the limelight it deserves is having more races in France in July.

How many of you saw that our TT in the Giro Rosa went up a climb maxing out at 30%? Which, by the way, was the same climb that had some guys walking up it in the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico. Don’t worry, Ella’s got you covered, but I’m pretty sure many of you missed it initially. Yet, I’m guessing that all of you know how Sagan got booted out of the Tour, or about the crashes of Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte.

Giro Rosa Coryn Rivera
Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) struggling up the 30% pitch in the ITT of the 2017 Giro Rosa.

So why not grow La Course into a tour? The ASO have been promising this since its inauguration in 2014, and it’s why us women kicked up a fuss when they initially announced that La Course was yet again going to be a one-day event in 2017. The only difference being, that instead of racing on the Champs-Élysées, they were going to have us race up the famous Col d’Izoard. This, in my opinion, isn’t improving the event at all; it’s merely a sideways step.

But then, earlier this year, ASO announced that they did add a second day: some kind of a backwards handicap race in which the winner of the Col d’Izoard stage goes off first, followed by the second at whatever time they finished behind the winner, followed by the third place finisher and so on.

But the second stage wasn’t a WorldTour event, and only the top 20 from the first stage got to line up for the second stage. It was all pretty confusing and I think most of us really only understood it on Wednesday night before the race.

From what I’ve heard, the pursuit-style race was received with mixed feelings by the public, but I can tell you that most teams, however, want a real race – not a short pursuit-style time trial that is impossible to plan logistically for riders and teams. It all felt like ASO simply added this extra ‘race’ to shut us up. Don’t get me wrong, racing up the Col D’Izoard was a pretty amazing experience, but Saturday’s “pursuit” definitely felt more like a side show.

And I certainly am not the only one thinking this.

In my opinion, it’s time La Course grows into a Tour De France Feminine. Not necessarily over 21 days, nor across the same distance as what the men’s Tour de France covers but why not have a women’s tour during the first or last week(s) of the Tour de France, and start us 50-80 kilometres up the road? Surely, the reason why this hasn’t happened yet is because it must be harder than it sounds … right?

This is the bike Canyon-SRAM’s Alexis Ryan and Elena Amialusik raced at the women’s Tour of California. Yep, with disc brakes!

New in the peloton: Disc brakes

Team sponsors in women’s cycling are starting to lift their game though and in California we saw the first inclusion of disc brakes in the women’s peloton, with both Canyon-SRAM and Cylance testing them out. You don’t see the women’s peloton creating half as much fuss as the media is about them, though. I think people just don’t like change and this is something that is happening in this industry, so get over it and move with the times people! Disc brakes are here and they are staying, there is too much money from the bike industry involved to change that.

With that said, I do think, it’s got to be an ‘all or nothing’ rule. Either everyone has to be on disc brakes or no one. It’s just too dangerous to have half the riders in the peloton stop in half the distance of others. Personally, I hate it when I think I’m going to keep it up only to have someone ram into the back of me and send both of us flying. There already seems to be a lot more ‘nasty’ crashes happening in the peloton these past few years, and I don’t think we need to be adding any more factors that can make these accidents happen. But, maybe I’m just getting old, and I’m beginning to realise that sliding along the asphalt isn’t all it’s cracked up to be …


The rumour mill: transfer news

Is it just me or is this year flying by? Already rumours about transfers are starting to spread. Who is getting whom? Who won’t be re-signing? And who will retire?

After a few big movements last year, I think we are going to see less movement among the top riders this season as a lot of big names signed multi-year contracts after the Olympic season.

However, I have heard that one of the big names of Boels-Dolmans is on the move, and that would surely change the dynamics of the peloton. There is also a rumour of a big new team starting up with some top riders. I know, that’s all very vague but believe me, I wish I had more to tell as I’m just as keen to know as you are.

It’s always interesting to see the game of musical chairs at the end of the season, and here’s who I’ll be watching:

After having a good Spring Classics campaign, and, just recently, the BeNe Ladies Tour, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Alice Barnes moving to a team like Wiggle-High5. It’s a British team, which means they need British riders, and it doesn’t hurt that Wiggle-High5 is known to pay well. Also, there’s talk that they might be losing sprinter Jolien D’Hoore.

And then there’s Kasia Niewiadoma. She dominated the Women’s Tour last month in Britain, and she’s really come of age with that victory. She might be one of the best in the world but to take that win is impressive. She’s got to have people eyeing her.

Then, there are the American riders like Ruth Winder and Katie Hall (both from UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) who have been having an awesome year. Katie Hall beat Anna Van der Breggen in a hill top finish in the Tour of California, and Ruth Winder has won so many bike races this year I can hardly keep track.  Will they make the transition over to Europe like their ex-teammate, Coryn Rivera did this year with Team Sunweb? It is always hard to leave what you know and are comfortable in, and being able to race both at home and in Europe is a good gig. But, the pinnacle of cycling is still in Europe and I’m sure the opportunity will be there for them if they want it.

Fans, good racing and respect. The Women’s Tour is quickly becoming the best women’s race on the calendar.

In case you missed it: smaller ‘tours’ are outshining only women’s grand tour

While the Giro Rosa is the only grand tour on the women’s calendar, there are other ‘tours’ that are gaining popularity among riders and fans.

Did y’all follow the BeNe Ladies Tour last week?  Even without all the big teams there, the racing definitely sounded hard. Add in the wind, cobbles, ‘bike path like’ roads and road furniture – it was like the Spring Classics all over again!  Heaven for sprinters and trackies, hell for climbers. Poor Carlee Taylor (a climber from Ale Cipollini) had it especially tough as she took a spectacular dive into a canal. And they dare say that women’s sports aren’t entertaining!

Oh, and Marianne Vos once again showed who’s boss! After getting caught up in crashes every stage of the tour, she still won the overall, points jersey and last two stages. All that while making her comeback from breaking her collarbone at the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour.

Speaking of the Women’s Tour, the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour of Britain has quickly become the best race in the world. It has a huge amount of respect from the riders and teams, and good, hard courses. It has quickly become a target race for the women’s elite, especially because the organisers treat the riders how we should be treated – the same or better than the men’s peloton. That’s unlike many other races, including the Giro, which still included one night in which they had four girls to a room. The Giro might be prestigious but with races like Tour of California and Women’s Tour continuing to raise the bar, I wouldn’t be surprised if more women choose to skip the Giro in the future if it doesn’t step up as well.

Alright, I’m going to return to my teammies now before they start wondering what I’m doing, furiously typing away in my little corner. But don’t think you have heard the last of me about a women’s TdF. I’m coming for you, France!

– The Shecret Pro

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