Women’s race organisers in France have turned their tainted reputation a little muddier, after the debacle of the second consecutive cancellation of the Tour Languedoc Rousillion, originally scheduled as UCI 2.2 stage race from 17-22 May.
In 2012, the race was cancelled because of possible ‘financial problems’ leaving many riders in a tight spot. It had been the final opportunity for women to fight for UCI points to qualify places for the London 2012 Olympic Games before the May 31 deadline.
Last year, teams had three weeks notice. This year, many teams were already in Carcassonne, or en-route to the region in the south of France known for its good wine and great cycling terrain.
The winner of the fifth Ladies Tour of Qatar won’t just be the most consistent rider who’s cunning (or lucky) enough to be in the front group when the peloton blows apart in the cross winds in today’s first stage.
She’ll also need to be the rider who’s well supported, understood and believed in by her team-mates. Because 2013 starts as a year where many top women riders have made moves to other teams: Emma Johansson (SWE) to Orica-AIS, Chloe Hosking (AUS) and Emilia Fahlin (SWE) to Hitec, and two-time world champion Georgia Bronzini (ITA) to Rochelle Gilmore’s new team, Wiggle Honda.
New team dynamics and the first race of the season (for most) mean a number of question marks over form and fitness.
For the second consecutive year, the Orica-AIS and GreenEdge teams won both the women’s and men’s time trial, road race and one criterium title.
Shara Gillow (women’s time trial), Gracie Elvin (women’s road race) Luke Durbridge (time trial and road race), and Cameron Meyer (criterium) claimed five of the six medals on offer.
A remarkable effort, and to be expected since they’re the only International Cycling Union (UCI) women’s team in my field and the only UCI WorldTour team on the man’s side.
It’s 8.48pm on a beautiful, warm summer evening after New Years day and I’m on the rollers. Soon it’s going to be too dark to see whether I’ve finished the 30mins of nice, easy leg spinning that was on my program.
The rest of the people in this house are relaxing into lounge chairs in front of television after an early meal, doing what people do on beachside holidays after eating, drinking wine and enjoying the company of friends.
As the guests leave, they sneak curious smiles and extend sympathetic looks towards my outlaws “Oh, she’s one of those athletes…”