The final round of the UCI Women Road World Cup takes place on Saturday, as part of the â4 Jours de Plouayâ cycling festival.
Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) is safe in the knowledge that she has already secured overall victory in the 2012 World Cup. However, the Olympic Champion is unlikely to rest on her laurels: she will doubtless work to ensure that the Rabobank Women Cycling Team also retains its position at the top of the rankings and thereby repeat its 2011 overall team victory.
Race victory may well be in Vosâ sights, or she may assist a team-mate such as Liesbet De Vocht or last weekâs Open de Suede â Vargarda winner, Iris Slappendel to take an attacking chance if the peloton are watching her.
In recent years, the race has been very exciting with numerous attacks. Towards the end, a small group containing the major contenders has typically escaped. Then, in the closing couple of laps of the 27 kilometre âCircuit Jean-Yves Perronâ, after a flurry of activity from those leaders, an even more select group or couple of riders has emerged to make the long effort over the hills back to the long, slightly uphill finishing straight.
Vosâ World Cup 2012 title is definite, and she cannot be caught. Her 84 point advantage over second placed Judith Arndt (Orica-AIS presented by GreenEDGE) makes her position unassailable. But second and third places on the podium are far from decided. With 75 points available for the race winner, there are several riders who could topple Arndt and even more who could move themselves into third place. Arndt won the World Cup in 2008. Her 2012 season has been one of her best in recent years and she is an in-form, race-smart competitor.
Evelyn Stephens (Specialized-lululemon) is one of those who could threaten Arndt. The American was fifth in Plouay in 2010 and second in 2011. This year, with a World Cup victory (La Fleche Wallone, April) and a strong season already behind her, she can bring a newfound confidence to boost her performance and look for race victory and a place on the overall podium.
Shelley Olds (AA Drink) and Trixi Worrack (Specialized-lululemon) are also well placed in the rankings and both riders currently have good form. If the race takes a different pattern to recently, Olds could be a contender in a sprint, whilst Worrack is a tough competitor to shake off in a small group situation.
In short, expect fireworks and excitement in Plouay on Saturday.