• (From left clockwise) Demi Vollering, Grace Brown and Marianne Vos. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Top races, great winners and the promise of even more next year! SBS Cycling Central journalist Jamie Finch-Penninger looks at the best races of the Women's WorldTour in 2021, including the replays from each race on SBS On Demand.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

19 Nov - 3:43 PM 

We’re celebrating the end of the 2021 road season by bringing together some of our favourite races of the year in the one place for you to check them out!

To say it’s an exciting time in women’s road cycling at present is an understatement akin to stating that an Annemiek van Vleuten attack is easy to chase down.

We’ve got the Tour de France Femmes coming up next year on SBS, and a host of extra races and chances to watch the top riders in the world go against each other in a variety of top-notch races. This comes amidst an increased drive for better pay, prize money, conditions and racing opportunities and at SBS, we’re looking forward to being able to bring as much of it as possible.

The question will be, could it possibly be as exciting as some of the races below?!?

Van Vleuten: I'm happy ASO took Tour de France Femmes seriously
Annemiek van Vleuten is pleased with the ASO’s approach to the Tour de France Femmes after the route for next year’s inaugural edition was unveiled on Thursday night.
Gravel and La Planche des Belles Filles feature in Tour de France Femmes course
The first-ever Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has confirmed the course for the 2022 edition. The route was announced overnight, with the historic nature of the women’s Tour de France emphasised during the ceremony.
SBS secures exclusive Tour de France Femmes free-to-air rights in historic four-year deal
SBS will broadcast the women's Tour de France - the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift - LIVE, FREE and EXCLUSIVE on free-to-air, beginning in 2022.

La Course

The final edition of La Course was a celebration rather than a commiseration because it makes way for next years Tour de France Femmes! The race was an attacking affair, and from an Australian perspective, exciting because of the Australian talent on show.

Grace Brown attacked away with a likely looking group, but cooperation broke down, and in the end, it was mostly Brown riding the front, as the others realised that it would be hard to beat her on the final climb.

That attack was brought back only a few kilometres before the climb and again it was the Australians to the fore as Sarah Roy led the way into the base of the climb, before Tiffany Cromwell launched herself up the early slopes.

It looked to be a dummy move to draw out her teammate‘s, Kasia Niewiadoma, rivals early and it did split the race apart. A great controlling effort from Anna van der Breggen kept things together for her punchy teammate, Demi Vollering, to get a shot at the sprint. That was a lot of confidence shown in the rising Dutch star as she was facing off against Marianne Vos.

Vos started her sprint early to avoid getting boxed in, with Vollering able to follow and pass to claim the final La Course! Brown somehow recovered from driving the attacks to run fifth, yet another marker to show that she’s one of the best in these races.

Full Replay of La Course 2021.

Amstel Gold Race

Another race and another Grace Brown attack animating the finale! She did another great solo ride but was swept up on the Cauberg by a peloton that wasn’t about to give her any leash, and it was game on for those behind.

A haymaker of an attack from the base by Annemiek van Vleuten was countered by Kasia Niewiadoma on the steepest slopes, with only Elisa Longo Borghini able to follow as they crested the famous ascent. What followed might have been comical if it hadn’t been so hard to watch.

They initially cooperated well and pushed it out to a big lead over a chasing bunch containing some fast finishers on the flat over the top of the climb. From a kilometre to go, Longo Borghini, not a fast sprinter, stopped working, leaving Niewiadoma to flap her elbow in vain as she asked for some help. She eventually went alongside Longo Borghini, with some screaming involved in the conversation as their gap shrunk to nothing. Bizarrely, Longo Borghini was the first to launch the sprint, providing a nice leadout for Marianne Vos to jump clear and win, surprisingly for the first time in her career.

Aussie Amanda Spratt didn’t have the season that she was expecting of herself, but she was very good here, fourth in the sprint after podiuming in 2018.

Full Replay of Amstel Gold Race 2021.

Fleche Wallonne

It wouldn’t have been an accurate representation of van der Breggen’s career to have her retire without another Fleche Wallonne win. This was closer than many, with Niewiadoma going shoulder to shoulder with the Dutch star up the climb, but the Polish rider couldn’t match the acceleration of van der Breggen, who won her seventh consecutive title on the infamous Mur de Huy.

Full Replay of Fleche Wallonne 2021.

UCI World Championships Elite Road Race

It’s nice to see surprise winners in the women’s races and there was no bigger shock this year than Elisa Balsamo’s victory in the world championships.

Italy played in perfectly throughout, all-in for their tough sprinter despite the calibre of riders she was going up against. Then in the finale, Marianne Vos was isolated and had to make up positions herself and that was all the advantage needed for the Italian rocket to blast to the most famous victory of her young career.

Full Replay of the Elite Women's Road Race at the 2021 Flanders World Championships.

Tour of Flanders

This was a fascinating race, and probably the best one to watch all the way through again from this list. The 'hellingen' of the Belgian roads offered no respite over what was a very attacking race, with Grace Brown again prominently on the attack for all those Aussie fans out there!

She was, unfortunately, the second strongest on the day, with Annemiek van Vleuten powering clear and then an interrupted chase behind saw van Vleuten conquer the cobbles for the second time in career, the first coming ten years ago in 2011. A super-strong Brown was third on the day to complete the podium, one of these monuments of cycling looks well within her grasp.

Full Replay of the Tour of Flanders 2021.

Paris-Roubaix 

This is here less for the thrilling racing than for the enormity of the moment and the spectacle of the wet and muddy Roubaix being tackled over those famous cobbled roads.

Of course, Lizzie Deignan was up by a colossal amount for a rider of her quality when the TV pictures from the host broadcaster started, and she skated her way to victory over the top of the treacherous cobbles. The arrival into the velodrome was enough to give you goosebumps and if the first staging of the event was anything to go by, there’s only hunger from the public to see more of what looks to be set to become a cornerstone of the women’s cycling season.

Full Replay of Paris-Roubaix 2021.

Gent-Wevelgem 

Quality attacking classics racing. I’d recommend that you watch from just before the Kemelberg, 43 or so kilometres to go. That’s when the racing gets hot and attacks just continue all the way into the finish.

Longo Borghini’s strength was just incredible in the final break, and with the peloton chasing behind, they couldn’t reel her in until the final 500 metres. Vos launched a long-range sprint just after and claimed yet another glittering win for her palmares, it’s hard to go past a Vos victory for the fans of the sport, she’s a true legend.

Full Replay of Gent-Wevelgem 2021.

The most dramatic races of 2021
We asked SBS television presenter and Zwift Cycling Central podcast host Christophe Mallet to come up with his most dramatic races of the 2021 road season.
Best Australian cycling performers of 2021
We take a look at the top non-road performances by Australian cyclists in what was a tumultuous 2021 season of competition for the nation’s top cyclists.
The best upsets of the 2021 cycling season
SBS' Matt Keenan picks his favourite surprise victories from a blockbuster 2021 season of cycling.
Top 6 races of the 2021 men's season
We asked SBS television analyst and commentator Dave McKenzie to come up with the best races of the men's 2021 season.
Best Australian cyclists on the road for 2021
It was a mixed year for Australian riders tackling the top races around the world, with the emergence of new stars, while the established ones experienced some rollercoaster seasons.