Women’s Cycling Weekly: Issue 25
Hello! Welcome to Women’s Cycling Weekly issue 25🚴♀️
Watching the Giro this week got me thinking about how brilliant it would be to have a women’s race on this scale. Wall-to-wall daily coverage (unless it rains) and extensive insights and analysis into the minutiae of the racing (just HOW many podcasts are there?!) all played out in front of stunning scenery — having so much excess coverage that you can afford to cut away to castles and other monuments is male privilege.
Part of the background celebrations for the race included the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death and so the parallels between grand tour racing and his epic poetry were duly drawn. The closest the women’s peloton has to a grand tour — the Giro Rosa — isn’t even broadcast and so the daily vignettes of divine comedy go largely unseen. The disconnect that this causes fuels the narrative that nobody is interested in women’s racing because, without an audience, the protagonists are invisible and so too is the drama (if a tree falls in the woods etc.).
Which brings me onto the news from this week about the impending 2022 women’s Tour de France which caused plenty of excitement. If the race does justice to the world-class riders who turn up on the startline then it will be a huge turning point, but I’ll leave the unbridled optimism to everyone else and reserve the right to uphold my cynicism when it comes to ASO right up until I’m stood watching the grand depart. Also, a moment of pause for the fact that we will never see Anna van der Breggen race a women’s Tour de France 💔.
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking just how great it would be to sit down and immerse myself in three (ish) weeks worth of women’s racing as we do with men’s GTs. How I would love to be scrabbling to keep up with the myriad narratives woven throughout the race as riders take their own journeys through Inferno, Purgatorio, and (for the scant few) Paradiso (is it obvious that I’ve never studied Dante?)
To watch and enjoy racing without feeling constantly prickled by some sense of injustice is a rare privilege in women’s racing, but one which I think we all hope might become the norm in the future. Just leave out 200km snore-fest stages, yeah?
- Yes, Christian Prudhomme has said that a women’s Tour de France“will take place next year, that’s certain.” He also came out with such charming details as “Today, all the women’s races that we organise lose us money,” and, “If it makes money, that’s great, but it mustn’t lose money or it will end up like the Tour in the 80s and it will die.” 👍
- Elsewhere, Olympic team selections are being made for Tokyo with the Netherlands and France among the first to announce their squads. Anna van der Breggen, Demi Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten, and Marianne Vos will make up the Dutch squad while a lonely Juliette Labous will race for France, with national champion and Trek-Segafredo workhorse Audrey Cordon-Ragot snubbed.
- A report by The Times this week revealed that Britain’s most successful Paralympian, cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, returned an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol after the 2012 Paralympic Games although she was later given a backdated Therapeutic Use Exemption by the British Paralympic Association which was approved by International Paralympic Committee. A spokesman for the BPA said: “We are entirely confident that the correct procedures were followed at the time and have all the relevant supporting documentation.”
- Some positive race news:
We are overwhelmed about your support!— LottoThüringenLadiesTour (@LottoLadiesTour) May 10, 2021
Thanks for everything you did to help us! pic.twitter.com/kX9HlMYGwL
- Results from stages one and two at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana 2.1 were covered in last week’s issue but the following day Alice Barnes took her first win in almost two years for Canyon//SRAM on stage three while Slovenian time trial champion Urska Zigart of Team BikeExchange went solo to take the final stage. Annemiek van Vleuten snapped up the GC by a solid 2:16 ahead of Mavi Garcia(Ale BTC Ljubljana) with van Vleuten’s Movistar teammate Katrine Aalerud a further 14 seconds back in third.
- Meanwhile, in Belgium, it was a Team DSM 1-2 and an all-U23 podium at GP Eco-Struct 1.2 with Lorena Wiebes sprinting to the win ahead of teammate Susanne Andersen with Amber van der Hulst of Parkhotel Valkenburg in third.
- U23 World Champion Loana Lecomte of Massi took an emphatic win at the MTB XCO UCI World Cup race in Albstadt, Germany. World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot of Absolute–Absalon–BMCcame second with 22-year-old Haley Batten of Trinity Racing taking third in her first elite World Cup race. Watch highlights here.
- Plenty of soggy bottoms at the first of the two Navarra 1.1 races yesterday, the final 60km of which *live broadcast klaxon* were on Eurosport and GCN+. Annemiek van Vleuten took the win for the second year in a row, this time in a home race for her new Movistar team. She looked to have it in the bag until a storming Demi Vollering of SD Worx got agonisingly close to catching her on the final descent into the finish and fell just short of pipping her compatriot in a protracted sprint. Elisa Longo Borghini of Trek-Segafredo — who is coming back from a post-classics break — took third. Highlights on GCN+ and Eurosport.
Upcoming Races 📅
- Day two in Navarra will be underway as you read this (you’d better be watching from 5pm CET on Eurosport/GCN) the 124.8km course starts and finishes in Pamplona and is a lumpy affair. Can AVV do the double again? More details on the race website, and you can see a startlist here.
- Also later today is the Nove Mesto MTB World Cup women’s short track race — at 18:00 before the XCO race on Sunday at 11:20am. Both races will be live on Red Bull TV. More info via race website.
- Another 1.1 race in the north-west of Spain this weekend takes place on Sunday, the Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this one will be broadcast but expect many of the same big riders to take to the startline.
- Same goes for the 1.1 Durango – Durango Emakumeen Saria on Tuesday 18th just two days before…
- The first Women’s WorldTour stage race of 2021! Vuelta a Burgos Feminas takes place next week from Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd.It’s one for the climbers and if yesterday was anything to go by it’s going to be a tooth-and-nail battle for that top GC spot. Race preview here. (Sparse) startlist here. Race website here. Stages will be broadcast on GCN/Eurosport from 12:00 CET.
On the subject of the women’s Tour de France:
- This featuring some strong words from Kathryn Bertine who was one of the original campaigners for a women’s Tour who got La Course off the ground.
- An extended version of my thoughts if you are so inclined.
- A must-read on ‘cycling and the power of white privilege’.
- Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur are making menstrual gains (yes, I’m very pleased with myself on that one).
- Five minutes with GB track rider Katie Archibald.
- The perennially underrated Mavi Garcia.
- An interview with Rose Manley, executive producer of The Bunnyhop
- A closer look into the Dutch Olympic team selection.
- An interview with Annemiek van Vleuten.
Just in case anyone needed a reminder as to how emancipating bikes can be.
The latest episode of Matt Stephens unplugged features a great chat with yesterday’s third-place and all-round likeable character Elisa Longo Borghini.
Pain in the bum 🍑
Saddle sores are an issue taking up a considerable chunk of my thoughts at the moment. My body (or rather my chamois/saddle) decided that a piece I’m working on about women’s saddles should become an immersive experience and I am suffering (for the very first time despite over 6 years of riding including racing) from a proper saddle sore. TMI? IDC. Because this is a real issue and the taboo that surrounds it is part of the problem.
If I haven’t already made it clear, my stance in this newsletter is that I am not an expert who has everything covered all of the time — in other words: I’ll probably get stuff wrong/miss things and that’s ok. On this particular matter, however, I was kicking myself that I found out about this very exciting piece of bib short innovation through Caroline Criado Perez’s (brilliant) Invisible Women newsletter before I found out about it myself. But then I thought: hang on, why isn’t the cycling world shouting about this from the rooftops? Oh yeah, because it’s for women.
Anyway, well bloody done to Endura for being, not the first, but one of very few brands to actually develop products for female cyclists using actual real-life women instead of simply guessing what women might require. For further reading on the topic see: Hannah Dines for The Guardian, and if you haven’t read the Rouleur women’s issue (why not?) then you can listen to a piece from it by the brilliant Orla Chennaoui on this issue here.
That’s all 👋
A slightly shorter edition this week but I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless!
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Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Until next time,