Images: Justin Britton
Warning! Warning! Broken record alert!
It's day 2 at the Tour de France Femmes and while yesterday's mostly flat stage had full coverage from the host broadcaster, today's incredibly challenging and dynamic parcours which was likely to incite great racing from the moment the flag dropped... did not.
The topsy-turvy nature of the route planning combined with the broadcast rights being as they are led to frustrations spilling over on social media, as they so often do when it comes to the women's side of the sport. We're often reminded of how lucky we are to have any coverage at all and while that is true, it's not going to stop us from wanting more - from wanting what these athletes deserve. Men's cycling coverage was also much less broad a few years ago, but if we can now watch two hours of coverage from the likes of Gran Camino, or the Tour of the Alps, then surely we can muster support for full coverage of the flagship event of the year, for women's cycling?
Anyway, I've said my piece, and will continue to do so until we achieve parity on this - because it's important.
GALLERY: The calm before the storm: the riders prepare for a tough day on stage 2
PRÉPAREZ VOS MUSETTES!
def: prepare your musettes!
Speedy stage preview
Stage 3 - Collonges-la-Rouge - Montignac-Lascaux (147.2km, Hilly)
It's another day of ups and downs on the cards tomorrow, with five categorised climbs which could see the bunch split, but could well deliver a bunch sprint depending on the conditions and the mood of the GC teams.
PREDICTION: SD Worx not winning a stage is likely to provoke a response, and once again they have cards to play given any outcome. Plenty of other teams with be buoyed by today's success for Liane Lippert though, proving the super-team aren't unbeatable. If it comes down to a bunch sprint however, it's hard to look past Lorena Wiebes for the win. She was the best of the rest on stage 1 and will look to reassert SD Worx' dominance on a stage with a flat run-in to the line.
APRÈS L'EFFORT, LE RÉCONFORT
def: after the effort, the comfort
Taking a look back at the day's action.
Stage 2: in Review
by Peter Barnes
Unfortunately, we didn’t have TV coverage for the start of today’s proceedings, which is especially frustrating as straight from the start the road pitched upwards and allowed for the break formation to happen. It would have been so nice to watch the different attacks and attempts but what we do know is Georgia Williams (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) and Hannah Ludwig (Uno-X) broke clear from the peloton.
Other riders tried to join but it was to no avail, and at 55 kilometres to go of the stage, the breakaway duo were caught. Not before gaining some points towards the QOM jersey on the categorised climbs.
It was a tricky day by all accounts, with the parcours undulating and the weather at times being less than reasonable, turning some corners from tarmac to ice-rink. This saw a number of crashes with riders hitting the deck including van Vleuten, Liane Lippert and Alison Jackson (amongst others).
The sprinters that were forecast to potentially get over the day’s climbing were unable to keep pace with the ferocious bunch and by the time the reduced peloton reached the climb that crested with 1.4km to go, the hostilities really began. Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) was a repeat attacker with many keen for her not to get away and Lotte Kopecky doing what she could to maintain her place at the top of the standings.
When Reusser attacked I feared a repeat of yesterday, where a rider from SD-Worx attacks, the peloton don’t chase and their sprinter rolls everyone for second to make another 1-2 that have become so routine as to almost be perfunctory - and I mean that in the nicest possible way. However it did not come to pass and despite another attack from Niewiadoma (she really does want to be invisible this year, huh?), the race came down to a sprint. Shockingly, it was not Lotte who won the day; instead she was ousted into second by Liane Lippert (Movistar). I suspect this isn’t the last time during Le Tour that the teams of Movistar and SD Worx will be in battle for a victory.
Vive la Lanterne Rouge
Vive VITTORIA GUAZZINI!
If you weren't with us for our coverage of the Tour de France Hommes, we paid daily homage to the last rider to cross the line every day, along with the overall Lanterne Rouge at the end of the race.
With 4 riders retiring from the race after a series of crashes, 149 riders crossed the finish line today, with FDJ SUEZ's track and time trial specialist Guazzini the last of them. Let's get to know the 22-year-old Italian better with THREE FACTS:
- Guazzini was born on 26th December - 'Boxing Day' to us Brits, but in Italy it's known as Il Giorno di Santo Stefano - Saint Stephen's Day. Italians have a feast on the day - Santo Stefano's Lunch - during which distant relatives come to visit.
- Along with her Italian teammates she's reigning team pursuit World Champion on the track. She'd previously won both World and European track titles at U23 and junior level.
- She is a member of the Gruppo Sportivo Fiamme Oro, the sport section of the Italian police force!
noun: the refuelling
Features to enhance your Tour experience, and refresh your mind after a long day's cycling viewing.
by Lena Koch
Stage 2 - The duchess
Elsy Jacobs was the first women’s world champion. Well, kind of. It’s probably better to say Elsy Jacobs was the first UCI-recognised world champion on a parcours that resembles what we today understand as road cycling.
The first women’s world championships took place sixty years earlier and 40 years before Elsy was born.
However, after a hard struggle going on for several years, the federations supporting women’s cycling and racing (the distinction is important) won over the UCI. In 1958 the first official women’s world championships took place in Reims alongside the men’s pro and amateur competitions.
26 women took to French roads with Soviet athletes as major favourites. Tamara Novikova had improved the women’s hour record just 3 years before and won Soviet championships in several disciplines.
However Jacobs was by no means a no-name. With 25 victories in 42 races and only missing the podium 4 times, she was definitely one of the favourites. Jacobs had decided to pursue her racing career full time and moved to Paris at 24 to be closer to racing.
She was not only a physically strong racer but also clever and not afraid to call out competitors. These skills led her to victory with nearly 3 minutes on her Soviet and British competition, both countries being the powerhouses of women’s cycling at the time.
Many national federations like the West Germans refused to send women to the world championships. The reason being that women’s racing was often either prohibited or severely discouraged.
Just a few weeks after becoming world champion, Elsy Jacobs also improved on the women’s hour record from Millie Robinson. She managed 41,347 km and improved it by more than 1600m in the Milanese Velodromo. It stood for 24 years until a new record was set in Mexico City.
Elsy herself parted with the Luxembourgian federation on bad terms in 1974 after an incredible career both on the road, the track and cyclocross. The reason being, her lack of nomination to the world championships. The federation claimed financial troubles but refused Elsy’s offer to pay for herself.
Even after retirement, Elsy remained an active member of the cycling world until her death in 1998. She moved to Loudéac and worked as a trainer.
The race Festival Elsy Jacobs was founded 50 years after her hour record attempt and is now a classic race in the women’s calendar.
Stat du Jour
by Sam Mould
I would like to start todays section with a correction; in my infinite wisdom, I had prepared some of my data too early and it meant I was not working with a full start list. So the correct starting data is as follows:
The race kicked off with 22 teams made up of 7 riders per team. That’s 154 riders in total.
The 154 riders have an average age of 27 years and 160 days old which ranges from Rachel Neylan of Cofidis at 41 years 136 days to Babette van der Wolf at 19 years and 85 days old.
As Demi Vollering suggested yesterday, many of the riders are viewing today's stage 2 as the Queen stage, though it doesn’t offer the most metres of altitude gain or the highest point of the race (see stage 7).
I think it’s the combination of volume of climbs and the length of the stage that is striking fear into the riders.
With 6 categorised climbs it’s certainly the stage with the most opportunities to add QOM points.
With most teams taking roughly 100 Bidons per day. It would take you 23 hours 50 minutes to fill them all using your average household tap.
Bidons available from the writebikerepeat store.
Today's highest categorised climb was Côte de la Stèle which measured in at 744.04 Liane Lipperts tall.
def: The bits and bobs, the shiny things, the small treasures that would otherwise go unnoticed.
League of Nations
The number of nations represented on our table doubled after today's stage, with the Netherlands getting in on the action for the first and undoubtedly not the last time. Yara Kastelijn fought hard to gain control of the polka dot jersey which she owns for now (Kasia Niewiadoma wore it today on behalf of Lotte Kopecky), and the stage winner Liane Lippert struck the first blow for Germany with her stunning power sprint to the line.
Germany have 6 riders at this year's TDFF, covering a variety of strengths, from climber Ricarda Bauernfeind, one of this year's breakout riders, to Uno-X's time trial specialist Hannah Ludwig, and all-rounder Romy Kasper (Jumbo-Visma).
Lippert though is the real deal: a three-time national champion, she's been gaining in strength and confidence for the past two seasons in her role as successor to Annemiek van Vleuten at Movistar. She's been there or thereabouts at the pointy end of many races, with a number of notable podium spots to show for it, but she's lacking that big win that would mark her out as a serious contender.
With mighty big shoes to fill, today's win will give Lippert a huge boost, and confirm to the cycling world that she continues on her upward trajectory to future greatness.
Tweets of the Day
Photobombing doesn't come much better than this. Lotte Kopecky had quite the surprise in her post-race interview for Belgian TV.
Is it raining? I hadn't noticed.
And following on from yesterday's theme of inspiring the next generation, here's Dani Rowe MBE and her adorable baby:
Today's race in images - by Justin Britton