Sources: race website, sat24.com
(My version in Cronoescalada http://www.cronoescalada.com/index.php/tracks/view/162815 and map with wind direction.)
Weather will be changeable, mostly rainy and up to 26 degrees C with a S to SSW wind of around 10 to 17 km/h.
The race will be 6 laps of a 19.8km circuit, with a 2km downhill start and 2 short climbs at around 5km and 9km (up to 5%). The main climb at the 19 km mark that varies from 9% to 12% up towards the finish. The roads are narrow and technical at the start and finish, with wider stretches between the first and second climbs. While the climbs wouldn’t be too much to handle by themselves, having to do them 6 times will stretch out the finishing times quite some way.
You couldn’t get a fag paper between the contenders, it’s that close. Breakaways haven’t fared well in recent years but it’ll be interesting to see if anyone attacks in order to avoid the fight for position at the end. Boels Dolmans bring Evelyn Stevens and Megan Guarnier, supported by Karol Ann Canual (fresh from the podium at the Crono de Gatineau), and Katarzyna Pawlowski. Stevens has won this twice in its current incarnation, although finished sixth last year after some bad positioning. Guarnier hasn’t had good results here but is currently on great form. A small line up surprisingly. Wiggle H5 bring last years runner up Officer Elisa Longo Borghini plus Mara Abbott who has had good results here. Audrey Cordon Ragot has been under the radar lately after a broken collarbone put her out at the start of the year. She’s quietly been building up her form again, it’ll be interesting to see how she does here. Dani King completes another small line up. Canyon SRAM are getting their rhythm back after an uneven start to the season. Alena Amialiusik was third last year, although as part of a long run of wins and podium places. However at Amgen her results pointed to a return to normal, and she has an all killer no filler support team made up by Elena Cecchini, Mieke Kroger, Hannah Barnes, Alexis Ryan and Tiffany Cromwell. Cylance have similarly had a turnaround in fortunes after losing Shelley Olds to injury. Rosella Ratto delivered a breakaway timed to perfection last week at the Winston Salem road race, and with Valentina Scandolara, Alison Tetrick, Kristabel Doebel Hickok and Erica Zaveta she has another chance to shine in what has been a racing season biased against great climbers like her. Ratto and Scandolara left Coryn Rivera of UHC in third place at Winston Salem, proving that Rivera is not just a sprinter. The tricky finish in the last few hundred metres could favour her and help improve her fifth place last year. With Katie Hall, UHC have two serious contenders who would have the bonus of beating the top UCI teams to boot. Linda Villumsen, Lauren Tamayo, Iris Slappendel and Annie Ewart bring plenty of experience and power to back them up. Ale Cipollini bring their full quota with the two Martas (Bastianelli and Tagliaferro) along with Dalia Muccioli, Anna Trevisi, Ane Santesteban and Annalisa Cucinotta. Very strong, they are one of two unpreditable teams at this race. BTC City Ljubljana is the other, a quietly confident team who have managed some great results at Gracia Orlova and Festival Elsy Jacobs. Eugenia Bujak and Olena Pavlukhina could be very dangerous (or not, who knows) with Jelena Eric, Spela Kern, Ursa Pintar and Mia Radotic completing the team.
BePink are another team who have suffered from the lack of climbs in this season. Lex Albrecht was second to Stevens in 2014 and was only a few seconds off last year. Tibco-SVB have Lauren Stephens and Brianne Walle, Shimano Ladies Power have Jessenia Meneses, Twenty 16 bring Allie Dragoo, Parkhotel Valkenburg may contend with Natalie Van Gogh, HB Supermint have their superstars Scotti Lechuga and Eri Yonamine, Colavita Bianchi are on form with Kimberly Well, Rally are the dark horses with Heather Fischer and Jessica Prinner, Visit Dallas DNA have Mandy Heintz and Astana bring Arianna Fidanza and Ingrid Drexel. The start list is completed by Team Colombia and Team Mexico.
Stevens stands out as the favourite, with Borghini, Rivera, Abbott and Ratto. I really can’t decide, so I’ll go for a total outsider and say Bujak.