If you need a case study of how not to manage expectations, the UCI build up to Strade Bianche is a good candidate. A perfectly respectable one day race with prestige and existing TV coverage for women as well as men. It was scheduled to be the first World Tour race of the season because of where it is in the calender. Then the UCI began cranking up the hype machine to insane levels, until it reached such a fevour that there was no way the actual race could live up to it. Normally a half hour of highlights on primetime national television would be perfectly fine, not all races for men are live after all. But the lack of live coverage meant a massive anti climax in this case, and that’s before the race had even started. You have to feel sorry for the organisers. Boels Dolmans yet again proved having tactics, good equipment and a smart protected rider (winner Lizzie Armitstead) surrounded by a perfect team gets you far, and it’s also helps when towards the end most of the chasing group behind you gets disqualified for not stopping at a level crossing. This included Georgia Bronzini (WiggleH5), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla) and Emilia Fahlin (Ale Cipollini) along with 12 other riders. Lizzie Armitstead and Kasia Niewiadoma (RaboLiv) crossed the finish with 3 seconds between them, after they attacked with Emma Johansson (WiggleH5) towards the last 20km. Johansson dropped back to third, 13 seconds after Armitstead. I really thought it was Elisa Longo Borghini’s year but she finished a minute down on Armitstead, first of the remaining riders. Full results can be found here, video here. The reaction of Armitstead (“I knew, I knew, my team etc”) compared with eighth placed Claudia Lichtenburg of Lotto Soudal Ladies (“I didn’t know, I was all alone, it was difficult etc”) is depressing. Why Lotto Soudal don’t do more for Lichtenburg is a mystery, such a great, entertaining rider. Might be my imagination but the number of mechanicals (BePink, Orica AIS this time) seems to be excessive in recent weeks. But anyway, a good win for Boels Dolmans at the end of the day, and a nice start to the World Tour.
The next race in the Lotto Cycling Cup, Grand Prix de Dottignies, has published a provisional start list for the 4th April event. Teams so far are PC Futuroscope 86, Lotto Soudal Ladies, Wiggle High5, Team Australia, Cylance, Lensworld Zannata Etixx, BePink, Team Inpa Bianchi, Ale Cipollini, Keukens Redant, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Servetto Footon, BMS Birn, BTC City Ljubljana, Lointek, Aromitalia Vaiano Fondriest, Autoglas Wetteren, Team Lithania, Team WNT, Podium Ambition, De Jonge, Hoop Op Zegen Beveren, Isorex, Jos Feron Lady Force, Drops, Lares Waowdeals, TSVL Etixx Guill D’or, De Sprinters Malderen, Jan Van Arckel, Maaslandster Nicheliving, Aprire Bicycles HSS Hire, Mix 1 Team Stuttgart and Napoleaon Games.