After a day’s rest following the team time trial the peloton returns to Vårgårda for the penultimate round of the Women’s Road World Cup, the Crescent Women’s World Cup Road Race. The event has been on the World Cup calendar every year since 2006, with the team time trial added two years later. The organisers have made great efforts to share the race with the wider public with static cameras, local radio and their use of social media but this year it will be even easier to follow as it will be streamed live on the UCI YouTube channel with delayed highlights to follow on TV across the World.
What happened last year?
Pouring rain and high winds at the start, left many riders adrift within the first few laps. With four laps to go there was a very elite group, including: Anna van der Breggen, Amy Pieters, Emma Johansson, Ellen van Dijk, Loes Gunnewijk, Marianne Vos, Rosella Ratto Roxanne Knetemann and Giorgia Bronzini. Nobody wanted to tow Bronzini to the line so as the laps counted down the attacks continued. Eventually Gunnewijk and Vos escaped with only Johansson Van Dijk and Pieters able to follow.
With one lap to go Vos got a puncture but her rivals did not attack, allowing her to regain her position in the group before letting out her sprint in the final straight to take the win ahead of Johansson and Pieters in second and third.
It’s fair to say the Dutch are on a rich vein of form in Vårgårda, with riders from the Netherlands leaving Sweden victorious in each of the last five editions of the race.
|2013||Marianne Vos||Emma Johansson||Amy Pieters|
|2012||Iris Slappendel||Hanka Kupfernagel||Marianne Vos|
|2011||Annemiek van Vleuten||Ellen van Dijk||Nicole Cooke|
|2010||Kirsten Wild||Adrie Visser||Emma Johansson|
|2009||Marianne Vos||Kirsten Wild||Emma Johansson|
|2008||Kori Kelley Sehafer||Kimberley Anderson||Charlotte Becker|
|2007||Chantal Beltman||Karin Thürig||Noemi Cantele|
|2006||Susanne Ljungskog||Nicole Cooke||Monica Holler|
Twelve, anti-clockwise laps of an 11 kilometre circuit to the south-east of Vårgårda. The course is mostly flat, often along roads through open fields, exposed the elements. Without doubt the biggest challenge on the course comes a little over four kilometres into the circuit, the climb know as Hägrungabacken.
The 1.5 kilometre climb ascends a total just 50 metres in elevation but the climbing ‘proper’ is in the final 600 metres, with an average gradient of 7% with fans congregating towards the top, cheering on the riders, banging their drums and waving blue and gold national flags. It’s a great launch pad for attacks and after 12 climbs will really start to break up the field.
It’s not inconceivable for the race to come down to a bunch sprint but more often than not a small group manage to escape to contest the podium places.
World Cup leader, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) and Johansson (Orica-AIS) will be out looking for her first home World Cup win whilst the likes of Giant-Shimano and Wiggle Honda will be doing their utmost to bring it home in a bunch for their sprinters Kirsten Wild and Bronzini.