Tour of Qatar … beware the camel toe
Cyclingnews (unlike velosnooze) has some good coverage of the opening stage of the windswept, echelon smacked Tour of Qatar for women. As with the men’s version, this first major event for the euro teams is always tense, accident prone, and dominated by field sprints.
Australia’s Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto-Honda) had shown serious form during the summerslam critfests held in her home country … winning nearly everything but the National Crit jersey. And with her full Lotto team around her – she was able to punch her way to the leader’s jersey via the stage win and 2 time bonus sprints grabbed on the road. World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (Italian National Team) is likely Gilmore’s biggest rival for the overall win at Qatar, as the powerfully compact Italian rides the winds well and has the positioning instincts of a CIA operative.
HTC-HighRoad has Chloe Hosking sitting in 3rd in GC after taking 2nd on the stage. Hosking assumes the Young Rider jersey and should be very difficult to beat in that competition. But I would say we should look for HTC to go on the offensive and attempt to make a split or major breakaway later in the week. They’ve got the horsepower and they’ve got the experience to put Gilmore on the defensive.
The US National Team is having some of it burned into them out in the sun baked deserts of the mid-East.
With 5K to go, on a slight uphill, a powerful split in the Qatar field occurred with 12 riders pushing away, having countered a particularly strong acceleration by Garmin-Cervelo’s Iris Slappendel. The attack by Slappendel swept aside the positioning the US National team had held in the kilometers previous to the split, as they had been chasing an earlier solo breakaway effort by Valentina Bastianelli.
In the game-breaker split at 5K to go, no US National riders made the front group – and that likely signals a very tough time for the team to achieve any GC results for the Tour. However, if the racing continues to increase in aggression as teams vie for breakaways … the US Team is well stocked with strong women to put a rider in a move and kick them up in the standings.
Megan Guarnier is the most experienced of the US National Team with the European peloton and has been off the front of more races than Mavic neutral support. If there was one women who I think could sniff out and brawl her way into a GC split, it’d be Mega. Carmen Small is also incredibly saavy and knows the European circuit well, so could be critical in positioning a teammate in the right spot to take advantage of the high-dramas that inevitably occur out on the road. Less experienced, but with an intriguing amount of potential are the two teenagers, Coryn Rivera and Kendell Ryan.
Rivera may well be the biggest talent for the near-future of American cycling and has an amazing ability to win pack sprints against bigger, stronger teams and individuals. It will be fascinating to watch if the US Team will be able to protect and position her for a field sprint in the remaining days of the Tour.
One rider with the horsepower to do so, but still yet to prove she has the pack riding ability, is the new Peanut Butter & Co recruit, Alison Starnes. Starnes may be better suited to pound away on a long breakaway … as we’ve seen her do in many domestic events … but, if there was a rider that had the ability to hold inhumanly high amounts of wattage and keep a sprinter protected, it’s her.
The racing will be fast and fierce in the coming days at Qatar … with crashes, flats, and wind having much to say about who will earn international recognition and reward on this bright desert stage.
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RED Racing raising fun and funds for the AHA
February 5th … there’s a serious party at the Velo|SF store. If you want to hang out with some very cool people and get a chance at some serious swag.
Do You Have the Heart?
(full details and registration here)
Help us kick off American Heart Month! Join us for a silent auction and 6 hour indoor ride at Velo|SF to raise money & awareness for the American Heart Association/Go RED Women’s Campaign, its advocates and its supporters.
- Indoor ride: 1pm-7pm (rotating every 1-3 hours) fun prizes!! special guest instructors
- Silent Auction: 5pm-9pm
- Party: 6pm-9pm beer and wine served along with food
Raffle and silent auction items including a carbon bike from Blue Bicycles (WRD1), carbon Reynolds wheels, Mavic carbon race shoes, 3-750ml bottles from Kosta Browne Winery, a weekend getaway at Cayucos Sunset Inn Bed and Breakfast, prizes from Saucony, a double magnum of 2008 Optimus and a VIP tour and tasting for 6 people from L’Aventure Winery, magnums of ’07 Rosella’s Pinot Noir courtesy of Roar, Spa packages around the City, Gift Certificates to Sports Basement and MORE!!!
Bring your friends/teammates together in teams of 4-6 people for this great indoor cycling challenge relay. You can also ride the entire 6 hours solo! or Join in the fun as a spectator and cheer people on!
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Up next in the Norcal …
This weekend are the Ronde van Brisbane and Cherry Pie crits. Check out the rather clunkily revamped webportal at www.ncnca.org for details and registration data.
Personally, I’m taking the massive amounts of sunshine forecast and heading out for a much needed 10-hour chamois-fest with the woman. We’ve already got 4 races in this year, and the open roads without cones, start lines, and pack hammers await us.
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