UCI Women Road World Cup: who is NOT in Vargarda for the weekend?
The city of Vargarda in the south of Sweden will host the Crescent Women World Cup Vargarda, comprising two events, this weekend. A team time trial will open the show on Friday with 15 teams participating, followed on Sunday by a 133.5km road race.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Armitstead still leads the UCI Women Road World Cup rankings, 35 points ahead of Eliza Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) with Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) 4 points further back. The top spot in the young rider classification is still safe in the hands of promising 20-year-old Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team).
A team time trial to kick off the show
The 42.5km team time trial’s trickiest feature are the cross winds between Vargarda and Herrljunga. The first out and back stretch will catch out even the most seasoned of time trial specialists. The course then turns onto the same technical road race circuit the teams will be racing on Sunday, before finishing where it started downtown Vargarda.
A Velocio SRAM team victory would be a good bet, as they won this test three times as Specialized-Lululemon from 2012 to 2014. The team’s biggest asset is World Individual Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer and she could make this race harder even for her own team mates.
This season however, Evelyn Stevens, crowned World Team Time Trial Champion in 2014 with Specialized-Lululemon, has come to support Lizzie Armitstead as part of the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, just like Ellen van Dijk did the previous year. This will definitely strengthen the chance for a team victory and extend Armistead’s gap at the top of the UCI Women Road World Cup Rankings.
Emma Johansson racing on home turf
Round nine’s 133.5km road race should be fast, and if the previous editions are anything to go by, aggressive with attacks from the off. The weather conditions should be better than last year which will make for even more offensive and explosive racing. Dry roads will make this very technical circuit harder than ever.
The course has been revised for this year's edition which will start with a 56.5km lap, including a 2.5km stretch of gravel road. The bunch will then move on to an 11km circuit they will have to tackle seven times including a climb in the middle.
Sweden’s time trial and road champion Emma Johansson (Orica AIS) is set to impress this year. Having featured on the podium three times since 2009, she will skip the team trial to better her chances for a win on Sunday.
Last week’s Route de France winner Eliza Longo Borghini’s (Wiggle Honda) exceptional form is undeniable. Second in the UCI Women’s World Cup rankings, she will look at strengthening or even upgrading her position. Backed by Swedish rider Emilia Fahlin racing at home, Jolien d’Hoore, Giorgia Bronzini, Annette Edmonson and Audrey Cordon, she should be well protected. And if anything should go wrong, Wiggle Honda’s tactics will always prevail as we have seen so far this season.
Lizzie Armitstead and the Boels Dolmans Cycling team always race from the front of the bunch. With super domestiques such as Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus and Chantal Blaak never letting anyone get away, Armitstead should be in for a chance.
Who will suffer in Sweden?
The SufferPrize will be up for grabs again this weekend, in the road race. Who will be the toughest rider out there? Who will come out as the grittiest, feistiest racer? The Sufferfest will pmce again reward the best asset to the Sufferlandrian community.