Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans) won Gent Wevelgem on Sunday, managing to attack within the last few kms to put nearly a minute and a half over second place Lisa Brennauer (Canyon SRAM) and Lucinda Brand (RaboLiv). Full results here, video highlights here. The peril of doing a preview too far ahead, it turned out to be dry on the day but still very windy. It’s fair to say that yet another Boels Dolmans win is proof that they understand the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The riders loosely broke into two groups before hitting the first climbs, then strung out until the last cobbles were done before eventually forming 4 groups towards the end. Blaak at first only had a few seconds when she attacked, but the riders seemingly gave up chasing to allow the gap to go well over a minute. Some great results for Carmen Small (Cervelo Bigla, 5th) and Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur, 7th). The rest, not so much. You know what they say, if you can’t beat ’em then join ’em. And you can’t win at tug of war if you are all taking turns against a team that’s works together.
Wednesday sees the Pajot Hills Classic Elite race in Belgium, with a line up that has plenty of top teams: Lotto Soudal Ladies, TSVL Etixx Guill D’or, Lares Waowdeals, Autoglas Wetteren, Lensworld Zannata Etixx, Keukens Redant, Sprintes Malderen, Isorex Ladies, RaboLiv, Boels Dolmans, Swaboladies, Maaslandster, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Jos Feron Lady Force, Jan Van Arckel, Twenty 16, UHC, Cylance, Tibco-SVB, Drops, Podium Ambition, Wiggle H5, Team GB, Team WNT, Cervelo Bigla, Bergen CK, Orica AIS, Team Australia, Team Lithuania, BMS Birn, Lointek, Bizkaia Durango and PC Futuroscope 86. You can see a Google Streetview run through of the route here, and the profile and (very small) maps on the offical website here. The route has large sections of cobbles and is very technical.
The next Lotto Cycling Cup race, GP Dottignies, has published the confirmed line up. Start list can be found here (PDF). The teams taking part are PC Futuroscope86, Lotto Soudal Ladies, Wiggle H5, Team Australia, Cylance, Lensworld Zannata Etixx, BePink, Inpa Bianchi, Ale Cipollini, Keukens Redant, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Servetto Footon, BMS Birn, BTC City Ljubljana, Lointek, Aromitalia Vaiano Fondriest, Autoglas Wetteren, Team Stuttgart, Team WNT, Podium Ambition, De Jonge Renner, 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 and Aprire Bicycles HSS Hire. A lot of British riders and/or teams taking part, which is nice.
Still a lot of shock and disbelief due to Antoine Demoitié passing away after an accident at the Gent Wevelgem mens race. Sarah Inghelbrecht of Lares Waowdeals writes a blog at vrouwenpeloton.be which gives an insight into how the riders are feeling.
A few years ago a family friend was killed in an accident abroad. It was headline news for almost a week, every single TV channel and newspaper had the story as their top story for several days. I’ll never forget the way reporters and rentagobs tried to twist what was a tragic accident into something else, to suit their agendas or just get their faces on TV. I feel pretty nauseous at how, before the police have even finished investigating and before the family have had a chance to grieve, the loose collective of cyclist groups have decided it doesn’t matter what happened on Sunday. I don’t read Cyclingtips or Velonews anymore because I feel they are pushing the agenda of these groups (especially the ANAPRC), but I still get their stories popping up in my twitter feed so I know what they are writing about. Really ghoulish of Cyclingtips to run a story so soon after the news broke, and while I understand riders venting their frustration it also feels like there was an orchestrated response that all sounded very similar. If you read Kittel’s open letter, the last few paragraphs are written in a completely different style. The same for Sagan. There’s been a subtle reframing of the issue into rider safety instead of just weather or motos. And it is laughable that this is an open discussion that everyone is having a say in. We already know that riders who disagree with the riders movement are keeping quiet (or else publicly attacked if they dare speak out like Nibali did). Now I see the UK rep also says that there is a lot going on behind the scenes about the moto issue. And the problem is, they are politicising the issue. If you question any of their rhetoric you will be labeled as someone who doesn’t care about rider safety. Well there is a lot to question. At what point and why did the number of crashes go up, were there as many before that weren’t reported, does the change in riding style (very fast from the start instead of slow build up) have a role, what impact did the creation of the WT have if any (it’s harder for teams to say no to races) just for starters. In short, let’s have some evidence rather than a list of crashes that don’t tell us anything. Let me tell you from experience, bringing in rules for safety has to be done extremely carefully otherwise it ends up having the opposite effect. Minimum standards always, always, ALWAYS become defacto. There’s always more than one way to achieve safety, but it seems like the matter has already been decided. They won’t stop once they’ve got their new rule passed, it’ll move onto something else and then something else after that until mens road cycling is one big outdoor track with no fans. Go read what Eric Dezenhall says about these kind of groups and you’ll see what I’m talking about.