Ella Harris pictured during Women’s Elite Brabantse Pijl, 2021

Women’s Cycling Weekly: Issue 21

Amy Jones is back with the news of the week in women's cycling.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

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Happy Friday! Welcome to Women’s Cycling Weekly issue 21 🚴‍♀️

I don’t know about you but I was at a bit of a loss last weekend without any racing to watch, it didn’t help that the weather was uncharacteristically torrential 🌧️ here in Girona. In the absence of watching other people exert themselves some friends and I made a (veggie) Sunday roast (a big deal as a Brit living in Spain) — the jury is still out as to whether the copious glasses of red wine I consumed along with it were worth the groggy feeling (I won’t call it a hangover) the next day. 

Anyway, thankfully the short-lived racing drought — and my ‘hangover’ — has come to an end and we’re back to regular programming (at least for the next week or two). Get the snacks in, the Ardennes are coming!

Shout out to CyclingTips for supporting Women’s Cycling Weekly! If you’re viewing this on their website then why not consider subscribing to this newsletter to get it pinged into your inbox every Friday— in a nice, fun way not in a ‘WHYYY, it’s Friday and I will cry if I see another email’ way. Promise

News 📰

  • An exciting new project, The Run Up, launched today. The video series will document Trek-SegafredoSD Worx, and Canyon//SRAMas they prepare for some of the biggest World Tour races. The first video — documenting preparation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège — will be released on the 24th of April. To find out more visit therunupseries.com and follow the project on socials @therunupseries.
  • The UCI softened the penalties for tossing bottles (an issue that made it into the New York Times) after the disqualifications and fines that came out of Tour of Flanders just after the rules were introduced. The UCI said that although the lesser penalties of fines and rankings points deductions will be handed to first-time offenders rather than an immediate DSQ, they will still be clamping down on littering and throwing bottles.
  • Organisers of the Ladies Tour of Noway have announced that the race will feature a summit finish for the first time, a 10km-long climb up to the Norefjell ski resort.
  • SD Worx announced that they have signed 19-year-old Kata Blanka Vas. The Hungarian national champion of both cyclocross and road will join the team from June 1st. 
  • Ellen van Dijk of Trek-Segafredo has tested positive for Covid-19. The Dutch rider said she started to feel ill after the Tour of Flanders and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. She posted on Instagram saying she was glad that Paris Roubaix is postponed as it means she can still race and that she had, “Only normal flu symptoms so far, so hopefully soon back on the bike!” There have since been no further updates on her condition. She will miss Amstel Gold on Sunday. Get well soon, Ellen! 
  • In more rider illness news, Anna van der Breggen missed Brabantse Pijl due to a non-Covid-related illness. She is, however, on the start list for Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
  • Van der Breggen’s team, SD Worx, have aligned themselves with the TRADE project — a crowdfunding project for research into dementia — during the Amstel Gold race. More information here. 
  • Someone else who is happy about the Paris Roubaix postponement is Marianne Vos, who has said that she was not originally planning to race on its original date of April 11th but will consider lining up in October.
  • A new UK-based multi-disciplinary and gender-balanced team, Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus, launched today. The team will race across road, mountain bike and cyclocross and aims to obtain UCI licenses across all three disciplines. Find out more via their Twitter and website. 
  • If you’re interested in the topic of the pelvic floor (not a type of decking or a men’s WT team sponsor), then tune into British Cycling’s Ignitemonthly meeting for women and girls, and coaches of women and girls. The meeting is on Wednesday 21st April at 7 pm BST and you can sign up here.
  • Slightly late to this one as it started on Tuesday, but the brilliant Evolve Cycling Network teamed up with Lady Fatemah Trust and Arabiq online to launch ‘30 Days of Rahma’ with daily activities during Ramadan.

Results 🏆

Ruth Winder of Trek-Segafredo won Brabantse Pijl 1.1 by a gnat’s whisker and a Boss Bike Throw, leaving Demi Vollering of SD Worx in second after she celebrated what she thought was a victory. Elisa Balsamo of Valcar Travel and Service took third. If you missed the race you can catch up with highlights here.

Upcoming Races 📅

  • After a year’s hiatus due to Covid, the Amstel Gold Race 1.WWTreturns on Sunday. This year, the race will be held on a closed circuit with no fans, although riders will still cover the usual climbs of the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg, and Cauberg. It’s an early one, starting at 8:30 am CET and will be broadcast from 8:30 am on NOS.nland NPO1 in the Netherlands and on GCN/Eurosport from 11:05 CET. Read a race preview here. View the provisional start list here
  • When you’ve finished watching Amstel Gold don’t turn off the TV too soon because the last hour of the Vuelta CV Feminas 1.1 will be broadcast on GCN/Eurosport from 12:05 CET. 
  • Also on Sunday 18th, April is the Grand Prix Féminin de Chambéry 1.2. View startlist here.
  • The Ardennes come thick and fast with La Flèche Wallonne 1.WWTon Wednesday. If she’s recovered from the illness that saw her sit out Brabantse Pijl this week, will Anna van der Breggen be able to make it the seventh win in a row? The race starts at 8:35 am and will be broadcast on Eurosport/GCN from 11:05 am. View race preview here. View (patchy) start list here.

Read 🗞️

Listen 🎧

Freewheeling is here again with a new segment (that IMO should become a thing) ‘cyclists in cars en route to the airport, this time featuring Abby in conversation with Tayler Wiles. Plus loads of other chat about racing and whatnot.

Races You Should Know 💡

Not so much ‘names you should know’ as a whole race that flies in the face of the arbitrary limitations set for women’s cycling that we nowadays consider ‘normal’. Sure, we all know that the pro-women would be capable of riding longer distances over more stages, especially with the growing depth of the women’s peloton — but did you know that there used to be myriad races for women that took place over two weeks or more? 

In this article, Isabel Best —author of the brilliant book Queens of Pain— details one of the toughest stage races ever contested by women, the Ore Ida. Held in Idaho and run by an ex-Marine, the race was so hard that the UCI refused to ratify it (not much has changed, then). While the piece centres around the Ore Ida it captures a moment in time where women’s cycling was thriving and begs the question of where we might be now had the trajectory continued. The race —and the others like it— lost sponsorship and UCI did as the UCI does and — for reasons known only to them — set a limit of six days for the women in multi-day races during the 2000s (the Giro Rosa being the only exception). As Isabel writes:

This crisis and its causes, from which women’s racing is only starting to recover, have never been adequately scrutinised. We talk of growing the women’s sport, but we should also talk about what’s been lost. And we might ask how it was possible that Messrs Verbruggen and McQuaid, in their roles as presidents of the UCI from 1991 to 2013, allowed such a flourishing scene to die out on their watch.

If the story itself hasn’t piqued your interest, then can I recommend reading it for the images alone? 

More info on the race here.

Feel Good Friday 🚴‍♀️

The first ever all-female bike race in Iraq took place through the war-ravaged streets of Mosul this week. Thirty-five women took part in the event with the aim of changing attitudes in conservative Iraqi society about women and girls riding bicycles, as well as the need for regeneration in the area after damage from the war.

More images here.

That’s All 👋

Thanks for reading Women’s Cycling Weekly! 

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Have a great weekend.

Until next time,

Amy x

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