2010 Women’s World Cup preview
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

2010 Women’s World Cup preview

by Ben Atkins at 8:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 

emma johanssonLet the competition begin, in Italy

Sunday sees the twelfth edition of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Commune di Cittiglio, the first round of this year’s Women’s UCI Road World Cup. The race will cover 129.8km starting and finishing in the town of Cittiglio, east of Varese, the venue of the 2008 World championships. This year’s course differs from previous year’s as it includes an out and back journey to the Lago di Maggiore town of Luino before returning to Cittiglio. The course then takes to the usual circuits based on the Brinzio and Orino climbs.

The 2009 race was won by the Netherlands’ Marianne Vos last year on her way to taking the overall title. The World cyclocross champion outsprinted RedSun Cycling's Emma Johansson (right) in what was a foretaste of their season-long battle for the World Cup jersey. This will be Vos’ first road race of the year, having taken some time off after a successful cross season, while Johansson has been in winning form in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and some smaller Belgian races. There is no reason to expect that this year’s race won’t go the same way as last.

The teams most likely to challenge last year’s top two are the World’s biggest two teams, HTC-Columbia and the Cervélo TestTeam. HTC-Columbia comes to the race with 2008 series winner Judith Arndt, who will look to make up for an injury-plagued 2009. The team will likely throw its weight behind double Worlds medallist Noemi Cantele though; as a Varese local, Cantele really wants this race above all others.

Cervélo brings 2008 winner Emma Pooley, whose usual long-distance solo breakaway tactic works a surprising amount of times. She will be supported by a strong team that includes compatriot Sharon Laws.

Other likely contenders include World champion Tatiana Guderzo, leading her new Valdarno team. 2008 World champion Nicole Cooke is a two-time winner here, before it became a World Cup event, and leads a young Great Britain national team. Susanne Ljungskog (MTN) is another former World champion looking to exorcise an ordinary 2009.

Cobbles and hills in April

The World Cup continues a week later with the Ronde van Vlaanderen, run on the same day and on a similar course to the men’s race. Starting in the town of Oudenaarde, the course covers 119.3km over the hills and cobbles of Flanders, sharing the closing stages of the men’s course a few hours before they do.

Last year’s race was unusual in that it finished with a sprint with HTC-Columbia’s Ina Teutenberg taking the win. All previous races have gone to riders attacking from small select groups formed over the tough cobbles and bergs.

The Ronde van Drenthe is a race typical of the Netherlands, with an almost entirely flat course exposed to the winds that whip off the North Sea. The parcours features several cobbled sections that serve to split up the peloton, and three acsents of the VAM-berg, the only real hill in the area, which is actually a landscaped former landfill site!

Despite the mostly flat course, this race is generally taken by breakaway riders.

Following the men to the Ardennes

The next event is la Flèche Wallonne Femmes, another race that piggybacks the equivalent men’s version. Starting at the finish line, the race covers the final 98km circuit of the men’s race, before finishing at the same point atop the legendary Mur de Huy.

The race has become a challenge to all other riders to climb the 25% slopes better than Marianne Vos, who has won the last three editions. Nicole Cooke is another three-time winner, but it’s tough to see anyone seriously challenging the Dutch champion in what’s becoming her own race.

New races for old

The loss of the Montreal World Cup event in Canada means that the one time the competition leaves Europe will be to China for the Tour of Chongming Island. It is possible though, that in a time of squeezed budgets many teams won’t make the trip. This is particularly likely as it falls just five days before the Tour de l’Aude in France, one of the year’s biggest stage races.

The World Cup returns to Spain for the first time since 2006 with the GP Ciudad de Valladolid. Details of the course have yet to be released, but the race slots into the calendar just before the Durango-Durango and Iuretta-Emakumeen Bira race and so should be popular.

The race does fall on the same weekend as the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, USA. Without the World Cup and stage races in Montreal though, it’s likely that few European teams will make the trip across the Atlantic.

Sweden and France for an early end

After the summer stage races the World Cup returns with the double race, the team time trial and the road race, in Vargarda, Sweden.

The Cervélo TestTeam and its previous incarnations is the only team to have won the team time trial, and it will be a major goal for the team this year to maintain this unbeaten record.

The road race generally goes to breakaways, although Marianne Vos won a sprint from a group of 17 riders last year. The 2008 edition saw an American 1-2 as Kori Seehafer outsprinted Kim Anderson at the end of a long break.

With the loss of another event, the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt (Nürnberger Versicherung pulled out of sponsoring this race as well as the team) the World Cup ends somewhat prematurely at the Grand Prix Plouay-Bretagne. The cycling-mad French village (with a population of less than 5000, Plouay hosted the World road championships in 2000) puts on a three-day cycling festival that includes a mass-participation event and a ProTour race for men.

This course is one of the toughest on the calendar and is almost guaranteed to go to a breakaway. Last year Emma Pooley won with one of her trademark solo breaks, but Vos’ second place saw her wrest back the leader’s jersey from Johansson.

World Cup events 2010
March 28 – Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio (Ita)
April 4 – Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres (Bel)
April 10 – Unive Ronde van Drenthe (Ned)
April 21 – La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (Bel)
May 9 – Tour of Chongming Island World Cup (Chn)
June 6 – GP Ciudad de Valladolid (Spa)
July 30 – Open de Suède Vargarda TTT (Swe)
August 1 – Open de Suède Vargarda (Swe)
August 21 – GP de Plouay-Bretagne (Fra)

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