If you only watch men’s cycling, you are missing out. The recent resurgence in women’s cycling is in part a result of the increased coverage of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. This brief introduction gives a quick rundown of the key facts to following the competition.
The UCI Women’s Road World Cup has been running since 1998 and comprises of a series of one-day races for elite women cyclists. The most prolific winner being Marianne Vos, who has placed in the top three overall in each of the last eight years, winning on five of those occasions.
The series has oscillated between 8 and 12 events taking place variously in Europe, North America, Australia, and China. The backbone of the competition is made up of European classics, such as Flèche Wallonne and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, and the GP de Plouay in France.
The current incarnation comprises ten stages across three continents, and four to six riders from each team taking part in each stage. Unlike the men’s equivalents, both national and UCI women’s team can enter, to enable publicly-funded cyclists to compete.
The top 20 riders in each race receive points, ranging from 120 points for the winner down to 2 points for the rider in 20th place. There is also a team classification, introduced in 2006, based on the points scored by the four best-place riders in each race, and a young riders’ classification.
The series is now well underway, with six rounds already raced, and several riders have already come to the fore. The top riders to look out for at the next round in Germany on 2 August 2015 are:
• British cyclist, Lizzie Armitstead, is already an Olympic medal-winner, and built on her silver in the London 2012 road race to take the UCI World Cup crown last year. Following that dominant performance last season, in which she held the leader’s jersey from start to finish, the Boels-Dolmans rider has made a strong start to this campaign with wins at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Philadelphia, and leads the general classification on 315 points.
• Elisa Longo Borghini, who rides for British-based Wiggle-Honda team, took a storming solo victory in round three’s Tour of Flanders, but was outsprinted in the most recent race, finishing one off the top step but rising to second overall.
• Anna van der Breggen, from the strong Rabo-Liv team, took victory in Flèche Wallonne and at La Course on the last day of the men’s Tour de France and currently sits third with 290 points, 64 points ahead of compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten. With two other top-three finishes, van der Breggen is the most consistent performer so far this year.
• Glamorous Frenchwoman, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, is the reigning UCI World Champion in both Road and Cyclo-Cross disciplines and lies in seventh place in the general classification on 175 points after a hard-fought second place to Lizzie Armitstead at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
• Fellow Italian, Giorgia Bronzini, also of Wiggle-Honda, sprinted to success in stage five in the Tour of Chongming Island, ahead of Dutch rider, Kirsten Wild, who won the preceding three-day stage race of the same name. Bronzini will be aiming to better last year’s showing in round seven at Sparkassen Giro, where she finished second behind currently-injured Marianne Vos.