What's Cool In Road Cycling

Ed Roadside WORLDS’19: Van Vleuten’s Solo Epic!

Ed Roadside: The small affair of a disqualified World champions wasn’t going to spoil the fun of the Dutch fans in Yorkshire. The day after the Nils Eekhoff disappointment the orange men from Holland certainly had a lot to shout about with the first two places in the Woman’s race. Ed Hood had to be there to see Annemiek Van Vleuten take her rainbow jersey.

Annemiek Van Vleuten crosses the line after a 60 mile solo epic – local legend, the late, great Beryl Burton would be proud of this ride on her Yorkshire roads.

The Orange-woman is immediately mobbed by a pack of feral photogs.

But instead of being led away by the UCi podium guys, she effects a tricky but nifty clamber over the barriers and into the arms of mum and dad for a huge embrace before a race official moves a barrier and lets her get back to her machine and then the podium.

But not before she’s embraced team mate, Anna Van Der Breggen who’s next across the line, taking silver, last girl standing from a little group which pursued VV in vain.

Aussie girl Amanda Spratt takes the last medal and is congratulated by her team mates just past the line.

In fourth place is freshly crowned ladies time trial champion, Chloe Dygert of the USA; she’s tried to bridge from the Spratt/Ban Der Breggen tandem but her doors had blown off in no uncertain fashion and she was in a state of near collapse.

Former champions Borghini of Italy and yet another Dutch woman, Marianne Vos filled fifth and sixth slots.

Former champion of the world, local lass Lizzie Armitage had been in the group behind Van Vleuten entering the Harrogate finishing circuit but like Dygert was another who lost her doors – 31st was the final verdict.

The rain which had been dropping like a seeded Chinese cloud burst all morning stopped as we parked up with Bradford giving us bright sunshine on it’s interesting mix of Victorian and 21st architecture.

There was the usual warming up on turbos going on, but so too time for essential “ladies stuff” like braiding their ponytails.

Up at the Danish bus former six day and road star, Tayeb Braika was keeping an eye on the bikes, is it tempting providence to have little rainbow jerseys on the ropes around the bikes? ‘Yes’ would be the eventual answer to that.

Former world Junior and Senior Ladies Champion, reigning Danish Champion, Amalie Dideriksen meanwhile headed for the sign on – this wouldn’t be her day, unlucky 13th was her finish placing.

On the subject of former champions, Thor Hushovd and Dag Otto Lauritzen went unrecognised at the Norwegian bus – but not to an old saddo like me. . .

Yorkshire is wool country and a few of the moorland sheep had wandered into town.

At the GB bus the multitudes had gathered, hoping for a glimpse of Queen Lizzie. And now, in this politically correct world we live in, a question for our readers, we need guidance.

Pink thunder boxes for the ladies. . . We feel this may perhaps be filed under, “gender stereotyping” – and do the men have blue ones? Down at the sign on the favourites we’re showing themselves:

Line up time with The Netherlands called first as last year’s champions, courtesy Anna van der Breggen.

Lizzie didn’t line up with her team mates – just the way the line-up happened or a deliberate part of the focus process? They’re off – and so are we but on slightly shorter hop than the girls up to Harrogate.

It must have been a portent that the first ‘crazies’ we saw when we arrived in Harrogate were about as orange as you can get. . . First stop, Betty’s famous tea room, two scones and a tea, £9:95 each – and very civilised it was too. On Thursday there was no problem getting a spot on the barriers on the drag to the finish as the juniors battled through the rain.

Not today, it’s jam packed with fans all the way up to, and beyond the finish line.

By the time we saw the race for the first time it was as good as won with Annemiek Van Vleuten way clear on her own.

The tough finish circuit saw the end of many hopes, Dygert’s and Deignan’s just two of them; there was a steady stream of girls heading back to their team buses.

And some of the girls were visibly upset that their performance didn’t match their expectations.

But not the Dutch girls, patently on a higher level than the rest with the winner happy to admit to a huge training load, much of it at altitude, in a season where she’s won Strade Bianche, Liege Bastogne Liege, her National TT Championship and the Giro.

Up until today the USA has had a hugely successful Worlds with wins in the Ladies TT, both Junior Road Races, not to mention silver and bronze in the u23 TT – but both of their race favourites, TT winner Chloe Dygert and serial international podium finisher Coryn Rivera didn’t have the races they would have liked, finishing fourth and 10th respectively.

But what of Mrs. Deignan? Motherhood must have an influence on her ride, of course. But it looks to us like The Dutch – and Americans – have conducted the same cost/benefit analysis on Ladies Cycling which GB did a year or two ago and realised that if the money is spent on specialised training and preparation for the ladies then the rewards are great; first, second and sixth speaks for itself. . .

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,700 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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