Sunday, September 7, 2014
Women's Cycling Europe, It Ain't Easy
Optum Pro Cycling sent its varsity girls team to France to compete in the Tour de l'Ardeche stage race with high hopes that the move would prepare the ladies for the upcoming world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, Sept. 21-28. Maybe it did but the results weren't encouraging. The best the orange and black could do in the GC was a 17th place finish by Janel Holcomb, 2011 NRC champion. Lauren Hall came in 40th, followed by US national champion Jade Wilcoxson at 42 and triple Canadian champ Leah Kirchmann in the 51st spot. Star-to-be Brianna Walle finished 60th and Annie Ewart 75.
Rochelle Gilmore's Wiggle Honda team impressed with a GC victory by time trial grinder Linda Melanie Villumsen and stage sprint wins by world champion Giorgia Bronzini.
One of Optum's biggest rivals, the Specialized-Lululemon ladies, took their squad to the Holland Ladies Tour where they placed four riders in the top 20, with Evelyn Stevens winning the GC and team mate Lisa Brennauer finishing second. It's hard to predict the results of future bike races on the basis of one event but the Optum ladies might have a problem extending their huge success in North America to the tougher European environment. We wish them luck.