If Box Hill was supposed to make the men’s course selective yesterday, the UCI have pre-empted this with some odd rules meaning the women’s race has only 66 starters and several of these are mountain bikers and track cyclists. But if the field is reduced, the quality isn’t and we can expect a battle royale to reach the finish outside Buckingham Palace.
The Route: the same course as the men except with only two laps of Box Hill making 140km. Therefore the race should be more suited towards a sprint finish as reduced climbing makes the route less selective.
Tactics: if Box Hill didn’t separate the men, it might not work for the women either. However the women’s race will be very different. We start with just 66 riders. Yes, that’s sixty-six, no typo, meaning the UCI is more selective than Box Hill (the full startlist is below). Given this we should see teams and riders willing to make moves because the race will be hard to control. Because within the 66, there are several mountain bikers and track riders included for reasons the UCI might be able to explain but I still can’t. Certainly imposing a quota on successful nations means several top riders are stuck at home, especially the Dutch and Germans.
But we are where we are. Marianne Vos seems to be unbeatable but every time she seems certain to win big, she and her team get outfoxed, see the worlds in Copenhagen last year. And given the course isn’t quite for her – it’s too flat – we could see other nations gang up to condemn the Dutch. The Italians, with world champion Bronzini, especially seem adept at teamwork and tactics. By contrast the British squad which seems to have some division between reigning Olympic champion Nicole Cooke and fast-improving Lizzie Armitstead but the rivalry might occupy the media but we’ll see what it does on the road.
Several teams have different cards to play, unlike Cavendish and Greipel in the men’s race, there’s no really obvious sprint contender in the race for opponents to define their tactics against. Instead the US, Germany, teams come with a “house” sprinter but also other riders capable of the win and a moment’s hesitation will see a move go clear. Vos is the bookmaker’s pick ahead of Bronzini but watch home GB sprinter Armitstead and America’s Shelley Olds whilst the German team come with veteran Judith Arndt and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, enough firepower to worry the Dutch.
Small teams mean a chase is going to be hard. Hopefully this makes for a lively race with the contenders fighting it out, trading attacks like boxers throw punchers… but the open nature can bring surprises too.
Weather: a sunny start but it’s going to rain, with showers and the chance of a heavy downpour during the race. Temperatures will peak at a cool 18°C in the countryside and maybe reach 20°C back in London.
TV: the race starts at midday London time and is expected to finish around 4.00pm. It’ll be screened live, up to you to find it it with your host broadcaster.
Local Food: after some criticism for struggling to identify true London cuisine, I’ll stick to the safer topic of wine. Britain is not an obvious choice but the chalky soils around Box Hill are similar to some of the Champagne area in France and so long as the weather is kind, the wine can be good.
Do: watch this race. Women’s cycling rarely gets the spotlight, in fact it’s rare on TV, so take a look.
Better, we’re promised the technical bungling that stopped GPS time gaps from appearing in yesterday’s race will be fixed.
Don’t: ask why women’s racing is shorter than the men’s. One significant but unmentioned factor is that the men can stop anywhere en route for a pee. The women can too but it’s not as easy; then again there’s perhaps extra in-built bias, see the velodrome where women will do a 3,000m pursuit when the men do 4,000m and there’s not a single reason for the distance to be shorter. Today’s race remains the longest duration event for any women’s event in the games.
1 Great Britain COOKE Nicole
2 Great Britain ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth
3 Great Britain MARTIN Lucy
4 Great Britain POOLEY Emma
5 Netherlands GUNNEWIJK Loes
6 Netherlands van DIJK Ellen
7 Netherlands van VLEUTEN Annemiek
8 Netherlands VOS Marianne
9 Germany ARNDT Judith
10 Germany BECKER Charlotte
11 Germany TEUTENBERG Ina
12 Germany WORRACK Trixi
13 United States of America ARMSTRONG Kristin
14 United States of America NEBEN Amber
15 United States of America OLDS Shelley
16 United States of America STEVENS Evelyn
17 Italy BACCAILLE Monia
18 Italy BRONZINI Giorgia
19 Italy CANTELE Noemi
20 Italy GUDERZO Tatiana
21 Australia GILLOW Shara
22 Australia HOSKING Chloe
23 Australia SPRATT Amanda
24 Sweden FAHLIN Emilia
25 Sweden JOHANSSON Emma
26 Sweden SODERBERG Isabelle
27 Russian Federation ANTOSHINA Tatiana
28 Russian Federation PANKOVA Larisa
29 Russian Federation ZABELINSKAYA Olga
30 Canada HUGHES Clara
31 Canada NUMAINVILLE Joelle
32 Canada RAMSDEN Denise
33 Belgium de VOCHT Liesbet
34 Belgium HENRION Ludivine
35 Belgium POLSPOEL Maaike
36 France BIANNIC Aude
37 France CORDON Audrey
38 France FERRAND PREVOT Pauline
39 New Zealand VILLUMSEN Linda Melanie
40 Brazil da SILVA SOUZA Fernanda
41 Brazil FERNANDES SILVA Clemilda
42 Brazil FERNANDES SILVA Janildes
43 South Africa de GROOT Robyn
44 South Africa MOOLMAN Ashleigh
45 South Africa van de WINKEL Joanna
46 Cuba GONZALEZ VALDIVIESO Yumari
47 Venezuela GARCIA Danielys
48 Ukraine ANDRUK Alona
49 Belarus AMIALIUSIK Alena
50 People’s Republic of China LIU Xin
51 El Salvador GARCIA MARROQUIN Evelyn Yesenia
52 Norway MOBERG Emilie
53 Luxembourg MAJERUS Christine
54 Republic of Korea NA Ahreum
55 Mexico DREXEL Ingrid
56 Estonia TREIER Grete
57 Thailand MANEEPHAN Juthatip
58 Taipei (Chinese Taipei) HSIAO Mei Yu
59 Poland PAWLOWSKA Katarzyna
60 Azerbaijan TCHALYKH Elena
61 Finland SUNDSTEDT Pia
62 Hong Kong, China WONG Wan Yiu Jamie
63 Japan HAGIWARA Mayuko
64 Slovenia BATAGELJ Polona
65 Mauritius HALBWACHS Aurelie
66 Chile MUNOZ GRANDON Paola Andrea