Keep up to date with all of the latest results from the UK’s most successful women’s pro cycling team Le Col – Wahoo. #Colourtheroad.
The 2022 race season is in full flow. Once again Ribble is proud to be the technical partner of the UK’s leading women’s cycling team Le Col-Wahoo. Stay tuned to keep up to date with all of the latest results from what is sure to be an action-packed season of racing. A season that begins with a hectic schedule of iconic spring classics, including Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Tour of Flanders Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, La Fleche Wallone and more.
Lotto Belgium Tour – 28th to 30th June
With racing season in full flow there was little time to sit back and celebrate the recent results of the national champs. The newly-crowned British national champion Alice Towers along with Lizzie hotfooted over to join Majo, Gladys, Eva, and Jesse in Belgium at the Lotto Tour.
The opening stage consisted of a 4.4km prologue time trial around the smooth tarmac of the Chimay motor racing circuit. Fresh from her Bronze medal in the time trial at the British champs, Lizzie Holden blazed around to set the fifth best time. Jesse overcame a crash to the 11th fastest time while Gladys also made the top-15.
National Championships – 22nd to 26th June
Nat’s week was a hectic affair with riders heading home to compete at their respective National Championships. They performed outstandingly well, amassing a haul that included; two National titles, two Silver medals, two Bronze and a handful of top-10 placings.
British Elite Road Race – A Star is Born
Alice Towers defied the odds (and the weather) to be crowned the Women’s National Road Race Champion. It was a result that stunned the cycling world, and judging by her disbelief when crossing the finish line – Alice herself. In taking the victory in the elite race, Alice doubled up, clinching the U23 title too.
The result was all the more remarkable given the fact that this was Alice’s first pro victory. This is in addition to the fact that the 19 year-old attacked with all of 40km to go, in driving rain, and whilst holding two World Tour riders at bay! One of whom just happened to be the reigning champion Pfeiffer Georgi (team DSM).
It was perhaps typical of the British summer that instead of blue skies and warm conditions, the riders were instead greeted with gusting winds and driving rain as they navigated the roads and back country lanes of Dumfries, Scotland. This did not in any way deter from the action, however. Which was red-hot from the off.
The first move of any note came when Christina Wiejak (Saint Piran) took the opportunity to gallop off into distance almost as soon as the flag had dropped to signal the start. She quickly built up a lead of 2:18 back to the peloton, and approximately 90 seconds to Monica Greenwood (Team Boompods) who attempted to bridge across the gap.
As the race commenced the first of six 13.7km circuits, her lead had begun to erode. Thanks, in no small part, due to Olympic track hero Dame Sarah Storey’s injection of pace on the front of the bunch. By lap two, the game up and Wiejak was gobbled up by a now rampant peloton. It was at this point that Alice worked her way to the front of what was a now-depleted peloton.
Such was the searing pace on the front, only half a dozen riders seemed capable of maintaining the tempo. The pressure this sextet was exerting on the rest eventually told and the elastic snapped. As this group motored off the front, the alarm bells must have been going off in the bunch behind when they realised the composition of the group.
Contained within this breakaway were the World Tour contingent of Pfeffer Georgi (DSM), Elynor Backstedt (Trek Segafredo), Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), plus Alice and teammate Lizzie Holden. In time the groups numbers increased yet further as Elinor Barker (Uno-X), Sammie Stuart (Cams-Basso) and the rest of the Le Col-Wahoo team arrived en-masse.
With Le Col-Wahoo able to dictate proceedings through sheer weight of numbers, Alice seized her opportunity to launch her move. Her advantage grew quickly, with the undulating nature of the Scottish roads playing their part in making any chase difficult. Two-time Tour Series winner Sammie Stuart was the next to make her move
But with Alice motoring along at the front she barely made any inroads into her lead . Stuart was finally reeled back in by a quartet of Lizzie, Backstedt, Henderson, and Pfeiffer on the final lap. By this point Alice had a 90 second lead on this quintet. Try as they might, Georgi and Henderson couldn’t claw back Alice’s advantage. They were hindered in this by Lizzie who rolled to the front and eased off the pace at every opportunity.
Alice crossed the line with arm aloft, to clinch her first elite road race victory in the most spectacular fashion. Behind, the race for the medals developed into a sprint between Georgi, Henderson, and Lizzie. Georgi won out from Henderson, with Lizzie just failing to add another Bronze to the one that she collected in the time trial.
British National Time Trial Championships
Lizzie Holden powered to third in Dumfries to pick up a superb bronze medal in the elite race. April Tacey and Flora Perkins were also in action in the U23’s TT. April produced an incredible ride to secure a top-10 finish (7th), while Flora finished 18th. Lizzie, April, and Flora will be joined by Anna Christian, Eluned King, and Alice Towers for the road race on Sunday.
Before that, there is the small matter of the British Circuit Race Championships for Eluned on Friday 24th. The race is set to be contested on a technical 1km route around the harbour town of Kirkcudbright. Eluned enters the race in red-hot form after having secured the equivalent Welsh crit championship title a few weeks ago.
French Elite Women’s Road Race
Gladys Verhulst produced a scintillating display of riding to bring home the Silver medal in Cholet. Gladys along with eventual winner Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) bridged across to a dangerous breakaway on the penultimate lap of the Cholet course.
Cordon-Ragot attacked again on the ascent of the Seguiniere but was forced to respond when Gladys countered with an attack of her own. Their tussle took them clear of the rest of the break, resulting in the day being decided by way of a two-up sprint. With Gladys, ultimately missing out on the lunge for the line.
Dutch National Time Trial Championships
Le Col-Wahoo’s Dutch trio of Eva, Maike, and Majo kicked off ‘Nats week’ in strong style. The pick of the results was Maike’s outstanding Silver medal in the U23 time trial. She then followed this up with an impressive top-10 finish in the Elite race. Eva also rode superbly to clock the 17th fastest time. Majo’s race didn’t go to plan, an unwelcome mechanical meaning that she could only cross the line in 34th.
All three go again in Sundays elite road race.
Dutch Elite Road Race
Evan van Agt was first across the line atop the summit of the VAM-Berg. Eva crossed the line 1:40 behind the race winner in 21st place. Maike and Majo rolled across the line together a further 22 seconds later to finish 28 & 29th.
Belgium Elite Road Race
Jesse Vandenbulcke continues to show the sort of form that once saw her crowned the Belgian national road race champion. Though she missed out on a small group that went clear in the closing kilometres, Jesse finished within the main group just 12 second back. Jesse rolled across the line in 31st place, some 20 places ahead of the pre-race, red-hot favourite Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx).
Jesse covered the 23.1km course in a time of 33:37 to post the eighth fastest time in Gavere.
Women’s CiCLE Classic – 19th June
Eluned King sprinted to third in a hotly contested finale to the Women’s CiCLE Classic in Melton on Sunday. She may have been pipped at the post but her mammoth efforts were far from unrewarded. Riding aggressively throughout, El secured a hatful of awards.
Not least of these being a podium finish, of course. In addition to the Queen of the Bergs prize, Heart of Owston Sprint and perhaps the greatest of all – the Melton Town Special Award – a giant Pork pie! The pie is traditionally awarded to the rider who leads the race as the final lap commences.
Britain’s very own Belgian classic was blessed with some mild, dry conditions. The downpours of the preceding day, however would play a part in adding to the challenge facing the field. It all made for an enthralling spectacle of Britain’s finest female riders going head to head in the ‘battle of the bergs’.
Rather unusually at this level was the lack of breakaways. The race, instead, developed into one of attrition. With riders being dropped off the back as the pace at the head of the race intensified. Much of this injection of pace can be attributed to Eluned, who remained active throughout.
In taking two out of the three Queen of the Berg sprints at Cold Overton and Cuckoo Hill, Eluned secured the overall Queen of the Bergs prize. A further attack on the ascent of the Somerberg took 15 riders clear. However, with the gap hovering around the 10 second mark it never looked likely to succeed.
Sure enough, the chase group brought the race back together just before hitting Melton. It was here that Eluned earned her crust for the day (pun intended) as she led the field over the finish line to signify the start of the final lap. The race stayed together for the final 15-mile circuit, with Eluned just missing out on the win by a fraction of a second in a 7-rider sprint.
The Women’s Tour 2022
Please click here for a stage by stage preview and race report.
RideLondon Classique- 27th to 29th May
Stage 3 – Victoria Embankment > Victoria Embankment
After two stages in Essex, the Ride London Classique returned to the streets of London for the Grand Finale. At the outset of the 85km stage, the intention was to protect Maike and Jesse for what was sure to be an electrifying sprint finish. The plan was executed perfectly, with Maike finishing 9th and Jesse10th.
The 85.3km stage consisted of two short laps followed by seven longer 10km laps. Along the route, riders would pass landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Bank Junction and Blackfriar’s before finishing along the banks of the Thames.
The teams of FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope and AG Insurance-NXTG were by far the most active. Either initiating attacks or joining those already in progress. Every attack was quickly nullified by the peloton and it was only on lap three that the first move of any significance forged clear.
The break containing Julia Borgstrom (AG Insurance-NXTG), Amber Kraak (Jumbo-Visma), and Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & service) was reeled back in soon after the intermediate sprint. Despite the occasional melee for intermediate sprint points, no further attacks occurred the penultimate lap.
Once again it was AG Insurance-NXTG who instigated it when Ally Woolaston launched her attack and was joined by Krista Doebel-Hickof (EF Education-Tibco-SVB). The duo never had more than a 20-second lead, however, and when the latter lost the wheel the writing was on the wall.
Woolaston, a 21-year-old New Zealander was caught just 8km from the finish. from then on, it was a battle for position. The sprinter’s teams battled it out at the front to ensure that their fast finisher was in the prime position to take the win and the plaudits that followed.
Once again it was Wiebes who demonstrated that she was the fastest finisher in the field. Le Col-Wahoo worked hard to make sure their two protected riders were kept to the fore throughout the hectic finale. Jesse’s second consecutive top-10 finish earned her an impressive 9th place finish overall.
Stage 2 – Chelmsford > Epping
With Jesse looking back to her best, the focus throughout the day was to ensure she was well placed for an expected fast finish in Epping. The team survived late bike changes and a fast run-in to deliver Jesse her best-ever World Tour finish.
Stage two of three saw the riders complete a 141.7km excursion of rural Essex. Starting in Chelmsford, the race headed towards Epping where it would complete two laps each of two separate circuits.
With such a flat-looking route profile, the race was searingly fast. The stage was completed at an average speed of 38kph! Veronica Ewers (EF Education-Tibco-SVB was the only rider to escape the peloton’s clutches. The main bunch, however, felt content to let the lead extend out to over four minutes.
By the second intermediate in Epping, the lead had been whittled down to 2:10 and as the kilometres wound down the pace at the front of the bunch only intensified. With 15km to go Maike suffered a puncture, leaving Jesse with just two riders for support.
Thankfully Majo and April worked impeccably well to ensure that Jesse was in prime position for the sprint finale. Her 8th place finish behind race-winner Lorena Wiebes was a welcome reward for the outstanding teamwork shown by the four riders of Le Col-Wahoo.
Stage 1 – Maldon > Maldon
After an early-season crash, Jesse Vandenbulcke demonstrated that she was back to somewhere approaching her best form with a strong 12th place finish in Maldon. Having initially started the day with a plan to set Maike up for any finishing sprint, it was decided to switch to Jesse for the finale in Maldon.
Though the opening stage featured 2 QOM climbs, the route never looked to be tailor-made for the fast finishers. Blessedly, the riders were greeted with warm weather at the start, albeit with enough of a breeze to make it harder for any breakaways to form.
From Maldon, the race would head north for 2 laps of Abberton Reservoir, before returning to Maldon over the wind-exposed lanes of Essex. The arrival in Maldon itself signified the first of two laps of a circuit that included the only classified climb. The lack of tv coverage meant that there was no opportunity to show off the jerseys for the sponsors and no reason to attack.
The race finally sprung into life shortly after the first intermediate sprint when British TT Champion Anna Henderson launched a solo attack. Racing in familiar territory seemed to inspire Henderson, she quickly built an advantage of up to 1:40 on the tight, twisty finishing circuit. In the process, she claimed both sets of QOM points to start stage two wearing the orange-blue mountain classification jersey.
As the race neared its conclusion, the sprinter’s teams stepped up the chase to reduce the arrears to just 24 seconds with 3km to go. With the finish line in sight, Henderson ran out of steam on the short ascent of Market Hill and was instantly swamped by sprinters. Lorena Wiebes (team DSM) outsprinted a group of fast finishers that included Jesse to take the opening stage win.
Lotto Thüringen Tour – 24th to 29th May
Stage 6 – Altenburg > Altenburg
Lizzie signs off with another superb top-10 finish to secure 7th place overall. The final 104.3km stage was arguably the most action-packed of the entire race. It was a fast-paced affair, interspersed with attacks throughout. With a final chance of glory on offer, riders attacked with reckless abandon, not least of these was Eva Van Agt.
Eva made it into the two significant breaks of the day. She was to be frustrated in both instances, however, by the fact that GC contenders were also present. This meant that the peloton and BikeExchange-Jayco, in particular, were in no mood to let either break gain the upper hand.
Once again controlling the front of the race it was race leaders Manly’s team who set things up for the final uphill drag for the line. Manly once again showed her prowess in the uphill finish to claim her fourth stage of the race. Lizzie was once again in contention at the finish and 7th place on the day was enough to secure the 7th place overall that she held at the start of the day.
Stage 5 – Gotha > Gotha
In an almost carbon-copy of stage 4 Lizzie once again crossed the line 11th to move back up to 7th on GC. A result that was all the more remarkable given the fact that the entire team crashed early in the stage. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. However, the crash occurred just before the first intermediate sprint and left the team very much on the backfoot.
The only recourse to get back into the fight was to ride full gas to make up lost ground to the peloton. This, of course, would mean using up a pair of riders who would be needed in the latter phase of the stage. A tremendous display of teamwork ensured that they were safely back in the bunch even before the day’s first climb.
By the top of the climb, only 23 riders remained, including Lizzie, Eva and Alice. With 95km still to race, Yulia Biriukova (Arkea-Samsic) attacked and caught everyone napping. Despite the best efforts of the group behind she held off her pursuers to take a dominant breakaway win. In the sprint for the minor placing, Lizzie ran out of legs and had to settle for 11th.
Stage 4 – Schleiz > Schleiz
Lizzie Holden’s assault on the GC still remains intact after she finished 11th out of a select group of riders who contested an uphill sprint finish to decide stage 4. Having already won the opening three stages of the race, team BikeExchange-Jayco maintained their stranglehold on a race that they have dominated so far.
So it was with today’s stage. They marshalled their troops well and controlled the pace throughout the 127km circuit-style race in Schleiz. Alexandra Manly took her third win of the race to extend her lead at the top of the GC standings while Lizzi now sits 7th at just 41 seconds back.
Stage 3 – Dörtendorf – Dörtendorf
The first queen’s stage of the tour concluded without serious incident or any change to Lizzie’s standing on GC. Despite its tiny population of only 200 citizens, the small town of Dörtendorf hosted the Lotto Ladies Tour for the 5th time in its history. The first Queen stage of the tour was a 129.2km circuit-style race which featured amongst its many ramps the legendary Hanka-Berg.
The race itself was relatively subdued throughout, with the conditions playing the biggest factor in deciding how the day panned out. From the outset, Le Col-Wahoo’s intent was to make the race as hard as possible. All in the hope of getting a rider in any successful break. However, with a strong headwind to contend with, such opportunities never manifested themselves.
The race burst into life in its latter stages when Justine Ghekiere (Plantur Pura) and Greta Marturano (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) attacked, however, Marutano was quickly distanced from the move. Back in the bunch Bike Exchange-Jayco and Ceratizit-WNT set a furious pace to set their riders up for the final ramp-up to the finish. Seizing their opportunity to strike, a further group of 5 riders including Eva Van Agt bridged across to Ghekiere.
The brutally steep gradient of the final ascent, however, brought the climbers to the fore and it was the stage 1 winner Manly who crossed the line first. Lizzie’s final surge for the line saw her claim fifth at the head of a group that also included Eva and Alice Towers. Another highly impressive day for the team sees Lizzie still maintaining her position of 6th on GC with two stages remaining.
Stage 2 – Gera > Gera
Day two concluded very much like the first, namely riders from the team trying to shake things up by attacking when the opportunity presented itself to do so. It was almost a carbon copy of the day before. Albeit, the roles were reversed. Gladys made it into the top-10 and Lizzie just missed out in 13th.
The start/finish line for stage two was situated in the city of Gera. A city that has given us the world-renowned artist Otto Dix. Though on paper the route may have looked to be fairly short, 5500ft of climbing was sure to be the cause of some heavy legs at the finish.
The plan for the day was to once again ride aggressively in the hopes that one of these breaks would prove successful. However, as the stage unfolded it became increasingly clear that the peloton was in no mood to let any moves of substance get beyond reach.
As it transpired there were only two breaks of any note throughout the entirety of the stage. Neither of which contained any Le Col-Wahoo riders, unfortunately. Both breaks were reeled in and with 17km to go, the peloton was back together. Cue the battle for supremacy as the lead-out trains tried to assert their authority in the front of the race. Le Col-Wahoo’s lead-out went awry, hitting the front too early.
This left Lizzie and Gladys to hunt the wheels in a suitably chaotic finale that is the hallmark of all bunch sprints. Lizzie’s 13th place finish means that she is still in contention for the GC and only 14 seconds behind stage one winner Manly.
Stage 1 – Hof > Hof
The Bavarian town of Hof played host to the start of the 2022 Lotto Ladies Tour. The opening stage was 93.8km in length and featured two intermediate sprints and two classified climbs as it meandered through the district of Hof. With Lizzie Holden riding for the GC, the plan was to race aggressively, keeping Lizzie out of trouble and near the sharp end of the race.
The plan worked perfectly. Once the most difficult section of the stage had been dispensed with Le Col-Wahoo had 3 riders in a lead group of 15. It seemed an ideal situation but with nobody from the other teams willing to share the workload it allowed a second group to claw its way back to the head of the race.
With the arrival of this second group, Le Col-Wahoo’s numbers had swollen to five, including designated sprinter Gladys Verhulst. This meant that Eva van Agt, Anna Christian, Alice towers and Lizzie would form the lead-out train for Gladys in the now inevitable bunch sprint.
They fulfilled their roles perfectly, and as the finish line hove in sight Gladys was well placed to contest the win. Bunch sprints, however, are as unpredictable as ever and when Gladys found herself boxed in, it fell to Lizzie to try and salvage the result.
Lizzie crossed the line 8th with Gladys hot on her heels in 11th. While it may not have been the result they wanted, it was still a mightily impressive start to the tour. Once all of the stage time bonuses had been taken into account, Lizzie sits 5th on GC, and just 11 seconds behind race leader Alexandra Manly (Team Bike Exchange – Jayco).
Veenendaal – Veenendaal Classic – 20th May
Write this one down in the history books, as Gladys Verhulst takes the victory in Veenendaal. Gladys proved strongest when she out-sprinted her sole breakaway companion for the victory in the Dutch one-day race. A result that was all the more impressive given the inclement weather conditions that greeted the riders in central Holland.
Wind and rain are hardly desirable at the best of times but when the two combine, it makes for a very challenging race. But the conditions did not for one minute diminish the sheer exultation that the team felt when celebrating their success at the finish.
Director Sportif Nico Marche explains how the team executed the race plan perfectly.
“We always intended to race aggressively coming into Veenendaal. Gladys was actually part of an earlier move right at the beginning, and when that was caught we had Majo and Maike in the next one.”
When the break involving Majo and Maike was brought back, Gladys attacked almost immediately. She was joined by Karlijn Swinkels (Team Jumbo Visma) and this time her attack was to prove more successful. Once free of the peloton’s shackles, the pair worked well together and built up a lead that at its height reached two-and-a-half minutes.
However, with several teams working to reduce the gap, the peloton had reduced this gap to just 40 seconds with only 10km remaining. Here the onus switched to their teammates, whose industrious efforts to disrupt the chase ensured that the pair retained their advantage. Leaving them free to battle it out for the victory.
Swinkels opened up the sprint, a move which seemed to catch Gladys out somewhat. But as the pair thundered towards the line, Gladys looked to have more petrol left in the tank as she overhauled her breakaway companion and crossed the line first.
Cue the celebration as she held her hand aloft in delight, and small wonder. It was her first win of the season and Le Col Wahoo’s finest result of the season to date. A fact that was not lost on the entire team when they arrived at the finish and sparked scenes of jubilant celebration.
GP Ecostruct – 7th May
After a couple of weeks to recover from their awesome exploits during the spring classics, it was a successful return to action in Belgium. Maike van der Duin picking up another top-5 finish against world-tour opposition. They didn’t have it all their own way, however. At the start of the 136.4km race, the plan was to ride in support of Majo who would then go on to contest the day’s anticipated sprint finish.
Like all best-laid plans, however, they are subject to the vagaries of professional bike racing. With only the final corner to negotiate, everything had gone to plan. The teamwork had paid dividends and Majo was perfectly placed to open up the sprint. the disaster struck, Majo had crashed. Cue plan b – which now saw Maike switch from last lead ou rider to the main hope for the day.
Considering the circumstances, 5th place was a highly successful outcome and one which the team can be mightily proud of.
Liege>Bastogne>Liege – 24th April
Le Col Wahoo signed off the classics season with La Doyenne – the old lady of the classics. Bathed in the spring sunshine, the peloton lined up for the start in Bastogne, faced with a 142.1km course that included seven categorised climbs. With the plan to be aggressive from the off, Flora Perkins made it into the day’s early break. Indeed it was Flora that led the breakaway of 4 riders over the first categorised climb of the Côte de Mont-le-Soie with 55.3km of the race completed.
However, when the breakaway quartet was caught on the slopes of the Côte de la Haute-Levée there was still fully half of the race remaining. From here on in, it was a case of ensuring that Lizzi Holden was well-placed ahead of the much-anticipated selection of pre-race favourites in the race’s latter stages. It was the slopes of La Redoute that was to prove the pivotal point of the day. Annemiek Van Vleuten’s solo attack blew the peloton apart and Le Col amonst many others missed the final selection.
In fact, such was the severity of the attack, only 6 riders out of the 100+ that started finished within a minute of race-winner van Vleuten. With riders left strewn along the course, Anna Christian was first to cross the line in 43rd. It was perhaps not the result that this young group of climbers wanted. However, it provides them with the invaluable experience of racing against the world’s elite in cycling’s biggest races.
With the spring classics done and dusted, Le Col-Wahoo now prepares for a new phase of racing. Commencing with the GP Eco Struct in Belgium on the 7th of May. But for now, it’s a time to rest and reflect upon what can only be construed as a hugely impressive classics season. Thanks to numerous top-10 finishes, they now find themselves ranked 13th in the world and a top-3 best Continental team. Now that’s something to celebrate!
Flèche Wallonne Féminine – 20th April
Le Col-Wahoo must have been left wondering what they had done to upset the cycling gods at the conclusion of the 25th edition of La Flèche Wallone Femmes. Despite riding strongly throughout the majority of the race, the team was beset by ill fortune in its latter stages. The day’s plan was to ride for Lizzie Holden and Alice Towers and with only 50km to go, the plan looked to be working perfectly.
However, lady luck was not smiling and Lizzie when informed the team over the radio that she felt unwell all attention switched to Alice. Despite the setback, the team worked to ensure that Alcie remained with the leading group. However with 15km to go the race unravelled as an unfortunate mechanical put paid to Aklice’s chances. It seemed a scant reward for the team’s efforts but that’s the unpredictability of cycling for you.
They now move on to La Doyenne on Sunday and maybe some heartfelt pleas to the cycling gods for some good luck would not go amiss!!
Paris – Roubaix Femmes – 16th April
With passion, fire and no little spirit, each rider from Le Col Wahoo got to experience that extra special feeling of riding around the fabled concrete track of the Roubaix velodrome. Sure, they might not have secured the result that they wanted, but they had prevailed amidst some of the most brutal racing conditions imaginable. As each rider crossed the line; bruised, battered and exhausted from the seemingly endless sectors of pavé, coated in a layer of dust, they must have felt like giants.
Paris – Roubaix is regarded as the Queen of the classics, the last of cycling’s ‘fabled monuments’. It’s one of the races that have an extra-special place in the hearts of all cycling enthusiasts worldwide. Its nickname of the ‘hell of the north’ is well earned and is indicative of the challenge that awaits any rider that is brave enough to take it on. It is the iconic sections of pavé that imbue this race with its almost mythical status of being cyclings’ toughest one day race.
The second-ever edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes covered a total distance of 124.7km. Starting in Denain, it featured 17 cobbled sectors for a total of 29.2km of pavé on the way to the Roubaix velodrome. However, even before they reached the cobbled sectors disaster struck for Le Col Wahoo. Team leader Majo van’t Geloof’s voice crackled over the airwaves that she had crashed and needed a bike change.
In any normal race, this would not normally present much of a challenge. But on the narrow dust-choked lanes of Roubaix, this was nigh on impossible. Though Majo thankfully managed to ride on, she would never see the front of the race again. Further misfortune was to strike within a handful of km as yet another crash fatally delayed riders for the team.
They could be forgiven for thinking at that point that Roubaix had it in for them. However, the cobbled sectors play no favourites and many a rider fell victim to the tricky conditions. On a day of ill fortune, all but one rider from Le Col Wahoo suffered the misfortune of a puncture or crash. It’s seldom fun for those involved, But for the spectator, it is the sheer unpredictability of it all that makes the hell of the north so captivating.
Tata was the first rider to make it to the velodrome, finishing just outside the top 30 in 37th. Majo and Gladys finished together some 2 minutes later with April just making it within the time limit. After their earlier efforts for the team Flora and Eluned, both missed the cut off meaning that they did not officially finish the race. Their emotions as they soaked up the adulation of the crown in this famous old velodrome say otherwise. They had conquered the cobbles of Roubaix, and they will be back for more.
De Brabantse Pijl – 13th April
With the Ardennes classics on their radar, Le Col Wahoo arrived at the race in search of some valuable preparation. At 141.2km in length and featuring no less than 24 climbs it was certain to prove a thought test. And so it proved. The race started in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw before heading to Overijse for some 21.9km finishing circuits. Each of these local circuits included the punishing climbs of the S-Bocht Overijse, Hagaard, Hertsraat, Moskestraat and Holstheide.
Aggressive from the off, it was Anna Christian who set the early tempo. Soloing away from the main bunch only to be reeled back in with 85km of the race remaining. Alice Towers and Lizzie Holden then tried their luck, but it was to little avail. The real damage was done when the race reached the seemingly endless ascents of the local circuits.
When the big teams made their move, the race split up into multiple groups. Perhaps feeling the aftereffects of their earlier efforts, Lizzie found herself in the 2nd group and Alice in the third. The punishing pace took its toll, however. Lizzie was the only rider to make the finish line, almost 7 minutes in arrears in 36th. In fact, the race’s attrition rate meant that of the 235 riders who lined up for the start, only 61 of them made the finish at all!
Amstel Gold – 10th April
The team’s continued progression and outstanding consistency have resulted in invites to cycling’s biggest races. This weekend saw Le Col Wahoo begin their assault on the Ardennes classics, starting with Amstel Gold. The riders were greeted with a sunny but cold start in Maastricht. The 128.5km course featured 19 named ascents and meandered through the South Limburg region of the Dutch-German border.
The plan was to stay in contention throughout, ensuring that Lizzie was well placed if it came to a sprint. They started on the front foot with Maike getting herself into the day’s early break. However, the lead was to prove short-lived. As they were caught various riders counterattacked to eventually form a group of 10. This was as formidable a group as they come, consisting of world tour heavyweights Annemiek Van Vleuten, Kasia Niewiadoma, Lucinda Brand, Demi Vollering and numerous others.
But with SD Worx appearing to be unwilling to work they were caught with approximately 60km to go. Van Vleuten, however, had other ideas and continued to ride which enabled another break to form. As the leaders reached the first of the 3 closing laps they number eight and by the Bemelerburg had a lead of just over a minute.
From here on in, the race was perpetuated by attacks. With riders continually going clear only for the peloton being driven by SD Worx to drag them back. As the final lap began to take shape, Lizzie among others tried to thin the ranks. However, it was the final ascent of the Cauberg that was always going to prove pivotal.
On its lower slopes, the pre-race favourites set the race alight. Olympic time trial champion Van Vleuten launched her trademark attack. Such was the intensity of the attack that only one other rider could stay on her wheel. But as the gradients lessened their breakaway companions made contact once more. With all eyes on Van Vleuten, eventual race winner Cavalli (Nouvelle FDJ) launched a surprise attack down the left side of the road that caught everyone napping.
It was to prove decisive and she crossed the line 4 seconds clear of Demi Vollering. With the rest of the top 10 made up of the rest of the break, the first big group to cross the line did so 29 seconds later. It was a group that contained Lizzie and Eider. The result earned Lizzie a top 20 finish, which considering the calibre of the opposition was another hugely impressive result for this hugely talented team. Le Col Wahoo continues to show the cycling world that they are there on merit and are from being there simply to make up the numbers.
Scheldeprijs Vrouwen Elite – 6th April
One thing we love about this sport of ours is that you can never predict the outcome of a race. There are so many factors that come into play, even the best-laid plans can come to nought. Such was the case for Le Col Wahoo on the pan flat roads of suburban Antwerp. The 138km course was tailor-made for a bunch sprint and despite 3 riders being clear for the majority of the day, it never looked like ending in anything but a mass sprint.
The sprinter’s teams never looked like losing control of the race and when they made the catch inside 5km everyone prepared for a fast-paced, lung-buster of a finale. With a strong sprint contingent themselves, it was a situation that seemed to suit the Le Col Wahoo perfectly. Heading into the finishing straight the team was perfectly placed thanks to the efforts of Flora and Eluned.
This left the fast finishing duo of Majo and Tata to deliver Maike to the line. Until now everything had gone like clockwork. However, the mechanics of sprinting mean that the smallest mistake can often prove fatal. With 100mm to go Maike opened up the taps and lit the afterburners.
Another top-5 finish looked certain before disaster struck. Her right foot unclipped and the loss of momentum meant that she crossed the line 13th. An absolute heartbreaker for the team after their efforts to deliver the perfect lead-out. Next up is the Amstel Gold race where they will hope for a little more luck if it comes down to a sprint.
Tour of Flanders – 3rd April
As one of the five ‘monuments,’ the Tour of Flanders is one of cycling’s greatest spectacles. On a 159.8km course that featured 11 climbs and 6 cobbled sectors, Le Col Wahoo showed their mettle, riding aggressively from the off. Tata got herself into the day’s early break. As a group of 4, Tata and her breakaway companions worked to establish a lead that rose to as much as 4 minutes before entering the hilly section.
The cobbled climb of Kerkgate proved too much for the sprinter, however, and Tata found herself distanced. It was left to Maike to take up the mantle and along with 2 riders for company, she bridged across to the front of the race. It was Maike that led the leading quintet over the iconic Koppenberg, but behind the chase was on.
With 36km to go, Maike distanced her fellow riders on the slopes of the Taaienberg but with a rampaging peloton catching up with each revolution of the pedal her days were numbered. Succumbing to the inevitable, Maike sat up to be absorbed into the bunch. It was then left to the pre-race favourites to battle it out for the victory.
Lotte Kopecky delighted the home fans by taking the sprint win whilst wearing the Belgian champion’s jersey. Lizzie Holden was first across the line for Le Col Wahoo, finishing 21st. When you consider the calibre of the riders who finished in the same group this was an incredible ride from the British rider. These included Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering and Emma Norgaard no less.
After her earlier heroics, Maike crossed the line a further 2:30 minutes down in a group that also contained Alice. Both riders finished 35th and 41st respectively. Majo was next across the line after putting in a huge amount of work for the team early on. Similarly, the efforts of Tata and Gladys also took their toll with both riders failing to finish. All in all an excellent day’s racing from the team.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen – 30th March
With most of the rider’s attention being focused on the Ardennes classics, Dwars Door Vlaanderen was always going to provide them with some vital preparation. At 120km in length, featuring no less than 10 climbs and with cobbles thrown into the mix, it’s no walk in the park.
A day that started out with so much promise, unfortunately, ended in disappointment. At the most inopportune of moments, Gladys Verhulst suffered a mechanical that saw her ruled out of contention. Thankfully all was not lost for April Tacey and Alice Towers both made it into the main bunch when the race split for the first time.
With various riders looking to drive the pace on the pavé, the race blew apart in spectacular fashion. Riders were left strewn all along the course, leaving a select group of 26 riders to contest a sprint that ultimately decided the race. Like many, April and Alice found themselves distanced and finished safely within the main bunch. Next up is one of the monuments – the Tour of Flanders!
Gent Wevelgem – 27th March
While not one of cycling’s great monuments, Gent Wevelgem is one of the highest-profile classics on the calendar. At 159km in length, and featuring the fearsome climb of the Kemmelberg, it traditionally takes a heavy toll, even on cycling’s finest talents. A fact that was borne out by only 3 of the original 6 Le Col-Wahoo riders making it to the finish line.
The race started under the hallowed arch of the Menin Gate in the heart of Flanders fields. As is often the way with the majority of cycle races almost as soon as the flag was dropped riders immediately chanced their arm and formed a breakaway. It was a pattern that was to define the race, as breaks went away and were reeled back in.
With 12km to go the decisive split of the day occurred and the peloton was split asunder. With fully half of the bunch dropped and out of contention. Sadly for Le-Col Wahoo their remaining riders were caught out by the split and finished in a second group that came in over 5 minutes down. Maike was best placed in 50th.
A tough day at the office for all concerned but the team head to Dwars Door Vlaanderen full of confidence after an excellent classics season so far.
Bruge – De Panne – 23rd March
Tata Martin sprints to 5th place at the longest race on the tour, Brugge-De Pannes. Another strong day for the team saw the Portuguese national champion well placed for the final sprint for the line. It was yet another race that was marred by multiple crashes that saw the field gradually eroded and splits formed and continually closed.
April Tacey kicked things off for Le Col Wahoo, going clear with five other riders early on. But it was always likely to be short-lived, with the big teams working industriously to bring any break back. Sure enough, April’s group was reeled back in with 75km to go only for another group to take upon the mantle. With 62km to go, a rider moving up the peloton in the gutter crashed and major was an unfortunate victim.
Thankfully there was little damage done and Majo climbed back on to do her part in securing another excellent result for the high flying team. Another huge crash on the final lap whittled down the field to 50 riders. With most of the team handicapped by the crash, it was left to Majo and Tata to decide who would contest the sprint.
With Tata getting the nod, it was Majo’s duty to get the sprinter to the line. Finding themselves perfectly placed, Majo dropped the hammer to provide the perfect lead-out for Tata to launch her sprint. With her job done, Majo peeled off, leaving Tata to find the perfect wheel in order to engage the afterburners and rocket to a fantastic 5th place.
Nokere Koerse Voor Dammes – 16th March
If there was a prize of consistency surely it would be awarded to team Le Col Wahoo as they racked up yet another top-5 finish against the world’s best. It was very much a day of mixed fortunes in a race that was marred by a series of crashes. The worst affected was Jesse unfortunately, a crash at 48km clearly left her in some distress. Glady’s return to action also ended in a crash but thankfully resulted in no serious injuries.
The rest of the team very much rode on the front foot with Maike and Lizzie in particular active in trying to get into a break. However, when it became clear that it was headed for another bunch sprint the team began to work for Majo. With the final ramp of the Nokereberg forming the final run to the line it was a finish that favoured the rouleurs rather than pure sprinters.
Majo powered up the lung-busting cobbled ascent to sprint to 5th place, another exceptional result from a team that shows great promise for the season to come. Unfortunately, it was confirmed post-race that Jesse had sustained substantial injuries. two broken ribs and stitches in her hand will keep her out of the action for a while. We hope to see her back on the bike and back in the thick of the action soon.
Drentse Acht van Westerveld – 11th March
Another week, another top-5 finish for riders from Le Col Wahoo. Though not officially riding for their trade team, Maike and Majo once again showed that their early season form has been no fluke. Representing the Netherlands team, neither rider managed to make it into the definitive break of the day. But Maike did finish best of the rest when sprinting to 5th place from the second group on the road. Majo crossed the line 20th and capped another hugely impressive display from the Dutch powerhouses.
GP Oetingen dames Élites – 9th March
Le Col Wahoo’s strong start to the season continued with another terrific top-10 finish in Belgium. This time it was the turn of Portuguese national champ Tata Martins to contest the sprint victory. The team set out with the intention of being aggressive and looked to force the pace in the hopes of creating a break.
However, it was clear early in the proceedings that the teams with big sprinters in their midst were intent on keeping the race together. Little leeway was given to any breakaway attempt and as each was nullified the race settled down to the now inevitable bunch sprint. But with 2km to go, there was a worrying moment as Tata lost contact on the day’s final climb.
Fortunately, she could rely on the combined efforts of Jesse Vandenbucke and Lizzie Holden to guide her back to the sharp end of the race. Their reward was another well-deserved top-10 finish with Tata crossing the line 8th. Jesse and Lizzie’s late heroics meant that they crossed the line 16th and 22nd respectively. It continues the team’s impressive run of a top-10 placing in each of their races this season.
Bloeizone Fryslân Tour – 3rd to 5th March
Stage 3 – 137km Drachten to Drachten
Maike secured her 2nd top-10 finish in as many days as she sprints to 6th place in a bunch sprint. The final stage consisted of two laps of a circuit that started and ended in Drachten. Though a rider went clear at the start of the second lap, the sprinter’s teams were not to be denied. A repetition of the previous days’ racing, Maike once again proved that she is a force to be reckoned with, even against the world’s best. Another great team effort ensured that Lizzie finished within the main bunch and in doing so protected her top 10 on GC. Job done, as her 9th place finish overall was a worthy reward for the team’s efforts over the 3 days of racing.
Stage 2 – 125km Eastermar to Bakkeveen
It was a team performance of epic proportions that saw Maike Van der Duin claim 4th place on a pan-flat stage two. It had all the hallmarks of being a classic Dutch style race with strong crosswinds providing the ingredients for various race splitting moves. However, in spite of the conditions, the race remained largely intact until about halfway through the stage. Though it split in two it was large altogether heading into the closing kilometres.
With 16km to go, a lone rider made her bid for victory, but Le Col – Wahoo in concert with Jumbo Visma and Canyon-SRAM worked to bring her back. In doing so it set the tone for a bunch sprint. Clearly working for their sprinters, these teams lined out the peloton and the splits started to appear as riders lost the wheels in front.
At the 2km to go mark the sprinter’s teams were all jostling for position with the aim to keep the pace high and deter any late breaks. Into the final corner, it was Le Col – Wahoo who led the way with the team set up to launch Maike for her sprint. No mean sprinter in her own right, it was clear that Majo was to be the last rider in the lead-out train. The one whom Maike would follow to the line and so it proved to be.
As Majo thundered towards the line, Maike sat on her wheel in anticipation of launching her own sprint. Slingshotting past Majo, Maike went clear in her bid for victory. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to take the win but it was nevertheless a hugely impressive performance from the team. Such was Majo’s finishing speed she still finished inside the top-20 as did Lizzie who crossed the line 20th to maintain her top 10 on GC.
Stage 1 – 14.4km Time Trial
Lizzie Holden put in a super-strong ride to finish 8th in the opening day time trial in Surhuisterveen. Formally the healthy ageing tour, Lizzie completed the 14.4km route just 1:02 down on current World Time Trial champion Ellen Van Dijk. A fantastic start to the tour and one that was backed up by a superb ride from Maike Van der Duin who crossed the line a further 25 seconds back to finish 26th.
Le Samyn des Dames – 1st March
Majo Van’t Geloof unleashed the power to claim a magnificent 6th place finish at Le Samyn des Dames. An outstanding result that saw Majo finish as the highest placed rider from outside the World Tour. As with many of the races in this corner of the world, it was one of typical attrition. Riders were faced with a 100km course that took them from Quaregnon to Dour and which was strewn with various cobbled sectors.
Notoriously difficult to traverse, it was to be these cobbled sectors that prove the difference. As the day progressed, the number of riders in the main bunch decreased as those that didn’t have the legs were gradually shaken loose. With 6km to go, Chiara Consonni (Valcar) and Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ) attacked a much-depleted bunch in the hopes of staying away until the line.
It was, however the long drag to the line that was to prove their undoing. With the gap coming down with each revolution of the wheel, pre-race favourite Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) shot past the pair to take the win. After putting in a huge effort to police the break, Tata Martins came in 5 seconds down in 22nd and Lizzie Holden 29th at 35 seconds. Next up is 3 days of racing across the border in Holland at the Bloeizone Fryslân Tour.
Omloop Van Het Hageland – 27th February
The 2nd race in as many days saw the pack shuffled slightly with Majo Van’t Geloof and Lizzie Holden being replaced by debutants Eluned King and Flora Perkins. Joining the debutants was the bulk of the previous day’s team in April Tacey, Alice Towers, Jesse Vandebulcke and Maike Van Der Duin.
The second race of the opening weekend saw the field faces with a 128km route between Tienen and Tielt-Winge. What was to follow was a typical ‘classic’ race in every sense of the word. Attacks were followed by counterattacks as each team vied to get a rider in what they hoped would be the definitive break of the day. One of the early breakaway hopefuls was Flora Perkins who soloed clear on her senior debut. It was not to be, however, and it was a quartet from the world tour teams that eventually went clear.
There were caught inside 30km to the finish, at which point a further break of 10 riders attacked in what was to prove to be the race-winning move. Though their gap was never more than 40 seconds, it proved to be sufficient. With 20km to go, the front of the race lit up with various riders trying to sneak clear. But it was all for nought as each attack was nullified. With just 800km to go, the group set up for the sprint finish which would see Marta Bastianelli of UAE take the win.
The best-placed rider for Le Col-Wahoo was Maike van der Duin who ride strongly to finish in the second group on the road. Sprinting for the minor placings, Maike rocketed across the line to finish 13th. A very promising start to the season and hopefully a foreshadowing of better things to come from a very talented team.
Omloop Het Niuewsblad Vrouwen Elite – 26th February
It was an understandably nervous start to the opening race of the 2022 season under the sunny skies of Belgium. Jesse Vandenbulcke marked her debut for the team with a creditable top 20 finish when she crossed the line in the first main group on the road. A group that also contained Lizzie Holden, finishing 25 seconds down on race winner Annemiek Van Vleuten after a successful attack just before the final climb of the Bosberg.
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