The eleventh edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was won by Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) with team mate Chantal Blaak arriving half a minute later to claim second and Tiffany Cromwell of Canyon SRAM third. (Short video highlights here.) Although at first glance it seems like a textbook win for Armitstead, team reports and rider responses show it was just a bad day for many and one they will be keen to forget. There were several crashes, in one case needing hospital treatment (Sara Penton of Lares Waowdeals) probably due to the very high pace from the start. After keeping together fairly well the riders broke up into several groups after the Patenburg climb, which then fell back into 3 main groups. Armitstead and Gracie Elvin (Orica AIS) then broke away from the leading group and built up a 40 second advantage with around 20km to go. It’s hard to know whether it was by instruction due to Omloop van Het Hageland on Sunday, general low spirits after the various crashes or having the World Champion in the lead, but the chasing group seemed to lose heart at this point (they could have caught up, especially when Elvin decided to fall back). Armitstead had not intended to go for the win, but despite not feeling 100% and this being her 2016 debut she just got on with it (which is why she is a star). After the race she was quite candid about something that gets glossed over a lot in women’s road racing (riders having a mass Bardet-Pinot style hesitation and throwing away their chances) and looked absolutely shattered by the effort.
Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur, 4th) Claudia Lichtenburg (Lotto Soudal Ladies, 24th) and Lizzie Williams (Orica AIS, 23rd) will be quite happy with their results, and Lointek with their very young team had a solid debut at this race. The next race is the start of the Lotto Cycling Cup, Omloop van Het Hageland (race details and preview here).
Members of the Tour Femenino de San Luis organisers have dropped quite heavy hints that it will be a world tour race in 2017. This is certainly not surprising considering the amount of media coverage and live footage for the past few years, and will be a blow to the ambitions of the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans races. (If you don’t show the race apart from a few highlights then what can you expect.)
The Tour of Britain is also looking for a higher profile after gaining World Tour status, including an extra day of racing and a broadcaster to work with. There won’t be any live coverage this year, and the main sponsor Aviva are pulling out after the 2016 edition, but organisers SweetSpot seem confident about succeeding with their plans. And it is certainly a highlight of the season so no reason not to be.
Sara Olsson (Team Inpa) tweeted that she will start the season with 4 world tour races, Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe, Trofeo Binda and Ronde Van Vlaanderen. In between she will also start at Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo and GP Dottignies (part of the Lotto Cycling Cup). Olsson had an unhappy 2015 due to illness and has stated that she will have higher ambitions and goals for 2016.
Two interesting reads if you’re bored of the relentless Pravda-style of women’s racing coverage. Lindsay Bayer of HB Supermint reports on their team camp and start of their 2016 journey, and Jessie Druyts of TSVL Etixx Guill D’or discusses coming back to racing after pregnancy. She has 3 sisters on the same team by the way, a record for siblings in UCI teams?