Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans) managed to navigate the hellish last 10km of Le Samyn des Dames in one piece, outsprinting Emma Johansson (WiggleH5) after they left behind their earlier breakaway group. Amy Pieters (WiggleH5) just pipped her former Liv Plantur team mate Floortje Mackaij as they came to the finish a few seconds later. The race split up very shortly after the start, and the breakaway of around 25 riders stayed away almost to the end. (You can see a short video of the route here.) Full results can be found here, no video unfortunately but here are some photos that show how bad the weather was and how brutal the cobbles were. Shelley Olds (Cylance) had to abandon after a bad fall when another rider crashed into her, with team mate Valentina Scandolara suffering from a mechanical that pushed her out of the top 10. Several riders expressed regret at their bad luck from similar fates, including Julie Leth (Hitec), Monique van de Ree (Lares Waowdeals) and Hayley Simmonds (UHC). But Kelly Druyts (TSVL Etixx Guill D’or), Lauren Kitchen (Hitec) and Blaak’s team mates Nikki Harris and Christine Majerus must be pleased with their top 10 places in such conditions.
Strade Bianche has been seriously hyped this year, as it’s the first World Tour race of the season. Route profile and map can be found here, line ups are being finalised but the most up to date can be found here. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) won last year with team mate Lizzie Armitstead second and Elisa Longo Borghini (WiggleH5) third. I think Borghini will take it this year with fellow compatriot Giorgia Bronzini to support her. Ale Cipollini have been looking strong since San Luis, perhaps Malgorzata Jasinska or one of their Martas (Tagliaferro and Bastianelli) can make an impact. But RaboLiv, Cervelo Bigla, Orica AIS and Canyon SRAM will likely sew up the top 10 with WiggleH5, let’s be honest.
Euskal Emakumeen Bira have released a provisional start list, which I’m too tired to type up so here’s the photo they tweeted:
I’m away until Saturday now as I’ve scored some UCI Worlds tickets 😀 hope to have some video of Strade Bianche on the weekend.