Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Claudia Lichtenberg will lead the black and orange team in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, as a former podium finisher in the Ardennes Classic race. The 31-year-old former German Champion is one of the strongest climbers in the peloton and, with the hilly 120km race finishing on top of the fearsome Mur de Huy, Lichtenberg will be looking to capitalise on her current good form.
“I’m really looking forward to race tomorrow,” she said. “Today we did the final lap, and I really, really love this race. I’m so much looking forward to hit the Mur and to make the most possible ever pain that you felt before in your life! Ja, I’m ready for that!
Unfortunately, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will be without World Number One, and two-time Flèche podium-finisher Elisa Longo Borghini, as the Italian went down with illness shortly before Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. Performances from Lichtenberg – who was denied by an ill-timed puncture – and French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot – who was constantly on the attack and still managed to finish 12th – however, mean that the team will be just as competitive without its leader.
“Elisa is not there, but Audrey did super two days ago, and for sure we still have a good team,” said Lichtenberg. “We always miss Elisa a lot when she’s not there, but every race you always have to deal with different things. With my flat tyre last Sunday we also missed a lot… but these things happen. For sure she’ll be back for the next races, and we’ll just make the best of it.”
With the race finishing on top of the Mur de Huy since its inception in 1998, la Flèche Wallonne Femmes had been won by the strongest rider on its slopes of up to 26%. After a change to the usual finishing loop in 2015, however, the race is open to a more tactical finish.
Despite the extra climb, however, Lichtenberg knows that the race will come down to a battle between the strongest riders in the peloton.
“I think that now, since the last three years, the Col de Cherave is in, it changes a lot because that can be the first decision for the race,” she explained. “It’s a really, really hard climb, and one of the most key points, I think. It’s not a big secret!
“It’s like this: if you’re the strongest, you will be in front. It’s that simple.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling Team for La Flèche Wallonne Femmes
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Emilia Fahlin(Sweden), Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan), Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany)
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore took the Gold Medal and Rainbow Jersey in the first ever Women’s Madison at the UCI World Championships on the track in Hong Kong. In the light blue colours of Belgium, with compatriot Lotte Kopecky – with whom she had taken the first ever European title in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France last year – the duo finished the 120 lap (30km) event with a total of 44 points; this was ten points ahead of the British pair of Emily Nelson and former black and orange rider Elinor Barker.
Taking her third medal of the Championships, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Australian track specialist Amy Cure – riding with compatriot Alexandra Manly – won the Bronze Medal, just nine points behind the British.
“We are very happy and honoured to be the first ever World Champions in the women’s Madison,” D’hoore said afterwards. “Our race went almost perfectly. We timed our changes at the right times and had the speed to take enough points in each sprint.”
Great Britain took an early lead, after taking the first of 12 sprints. The Belgian pair moved ahead after the fourth sprint, however, and thereafter never looked threatened by any other team.
Into the closing laps, Barker broke away at the front of the peloton, but Kopecky and D’hoore were on the British rider’s wheel immediately. As she took the bell, D’hoore surged ahead, and rode the final lap alone to take the ten points on the line and cement the Belgian victory.
“It still feels like a dream to us,” D’hoore smiled.
Despite an early crash from Manly, the Australian team scored consistently – including wins in the third and eighth sprints – to constantly threaten the British Silver Medal, as well as holding off the challenge of Italy and New Zealand. Taking third in the final sprint for the line was enough to secure Cure a third medal of this year’s World Championships, after her silver in the Team Pursuit and Bronze in the Omnium.
Historically, a victory in the World Championship Madison for a men’s team leads to the riders being in high demand in the winter Six-Days circuit, with increased appearance fees to put the Rainbow Jersey on show. Whether D’hoore and Kopecky will experience a similar demand remains to be seen.
“I don’t know,” D’hoore laughed. “Normally they don’t do women’s Madisons in the Six-Days. But Maybe I should have a talk with them…
“Could be the right time for a change and to show the people in Belgium our stripes.”
Picture Credit: Rob Jones
1. Jolien D’hoore and Lotte Kopecky (Belgium)
2. Emily Nelson and Elinor Barker (Great Britain)
3. Amy Cure and Alexandra Manly (Australia)
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will line up at the start of Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, the next event in the UCI Women’s WorldTour, which will be run alongside the men’s event for the first time since 2003. French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot will be the black and orange team’s captain on the road, and relishes the challenge of the top quality “Ardennes” race being added to the women’s calendar.
“It’s a massive step for women cycling having Amstel now on our calendar together with Liège,” Cordon-Ragot said. “We are finally recognised as the men, able to race on hard circuits.
“I can’t wait to show our strength and prove we deserved it.”
The 121km race will finish 1.1km after the summit of the famous Cauberg climb, in Valkenberg, in the same place as the 2012 World Championships. Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s World Number One Elisa Longo Borghini took the Bronze Medal in that race as a relative unknown, but will be among the most watched riders this time.
Along with Longo Borghini, however, the black and orange squad will have the climbing talent of Claudia Lichtenberg to call upon, as well as the current form of Cordon-Ragot herself. With Mayuko Hagiwara also returning to the team after illness the team will have plenty of cards to play.
“I don’t know the plan yet,” said Cordon-Ragot. “I think Elisa really wants to win one of those 3 classics and we’ll be 100% focused on the win.
“Of course Claudia is an important card to play together with me,” she added. “I think I proved that I stepped up this winter and I’m able to play the game.”
Cordon-Ragot is enjoying her best spring form for many years, having been able to help teammate and friend Longo Borghini in the closing kilometres of the biggest races. This form means that she will once again be a top domestique in Sunday’s race, or be able to take a chance for herself.
“I feel really good since [Omloop Het] Nieuwsblad, my form and my ability to be up the front push me to the top,” she said. “I think I finally found the good way and confidence to improve at the highest level.
“I can’t wait to see how it is on those next races.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Amstel Gold Race
Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Mayuko Hagiwara(Japan), Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore has won the Bronze Medal in the Scratch Race at the UCI World Track Championships, in Hong Kong, in a close sprint for the line. Riding in the pale blue colours of Belgium, the Olympic Bronze Medalist was just unable to come around Italian Rachele Barbieri as she passed the long, early move from former black and orange rider Elinor Barker of Great Britain. Barbieri took the Gold, while Barker held on to take the Silver.
“I took the wheel of Sarah Hammer [United States] in the sprint because I know she’s strong and always starts her sprint quite early but she didn’t go this time,” D’hoore explained afterwards. “So I was a bit too far back for gold.
“It’s too bad because I felt there was more possible.”
D’hoore was part of a six-rider group that managed to lap the field in the second half of the 40 lap – 10km – race. The first 20 laps had not seen any successful breakaways but, an attack from the Hammer, just after the halfway point, pulled the group clear.
With D’hoore, Hammer, Barbieri and Barker were Kirsten Wild (Netherlands), Jasmin Duehring (Canada) and, with most of the best riders in the race there, they were able to work their way around to the back of the peloton. Having caught the bunch, the six riders quickly made their way to the front. Wild led into the final three laps, but Barker managed to come around the Dutch sprinter.
The British rider had also gone too early, however, and was overtaken by Barbieri on the line, but just managed to hold off D’hoore.
“I knew when Wild and Hammer attacked, it was the moment to be there. It was the right move,” D’hoore explained.
“I’m happy with the feeling I had in the race, and I get another chance in the Madison.”
1. Rachele Barbieri (Italy)
2. Elinor Barker (Great Britain)
3. Jolien D’hoore (Belgium)
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will be using SRM Power Meters for the remainder of the 2017 season as the team begins a partnership with the German company. All riders will be able to benefit from the most accurate Power Measurement System, while training and racing, in order to optimise their training and achieve the best results possible.
“I can’t express my feelings of pride and excitement when I was able to announce this partnership to our athletes,” said Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling General Manager Rochelle Gilmore. “It’s one that will make a performance difference and one that our athletes really appreciate. We’re extremely proud and honoured to be supported by SRM, it’s a brand and product of pure quality.
“It wasn’t only our athletes who were delighted to hear this news, our mechanics, directors and coaches were also overwhelmed with excitement.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Colnago C60 bikes will be equipped with the latest Campagnolo version of SRM’s Power Cranks, which feature the unidirectional carbon fibre crank arms, and utilise the same CULT ceramic bearings as standard Super Record cranksets.
Data will be recorded on SRM’s newest PC8 Powercontrol units, whose 500MB memories can record up to 4000 hours of comprehensive, accurate training data.
“Our mechanics will be able to work with power cranks that are 100% compatible with our Campagnolo groupsets so, performance will not be compromised,” Gilmore explained. “The compatibility is so important when our athletes are pushing max powers during races and training.
“Our directors and coaches will be able to rely on accurate data indicating our athletes condition in the lead up to big events, it gives our staff an extra accurate measuring tool and will allow them to make selection decisions with even more confidence.”
SRM – Schoberer Rad Messtechnik – power meters set the standard for accuracy in power measurement, with each unit built by hand at the company’s factory in Julich, Germany and Colorado Springs, USA. A 144-point calibration protocol results in a scientifically proven accuracy rate of +/- 1%.
All this technology gives Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s athletes the ultimate tool to optimise their training, and race to the utmost of their potential.
“It’s a real pleasure to be supporting the most professional team in Women’s Cycling and offering these amazing athletes the confidence of our quality product,” said Ulrich Schoberer, the inventor and owner of the SRM system. “As a company, SRM take a lot of pleasure and pride in being able to make a difference to athlete’s performances. Our partnership with Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will see these World Class athletes share with their fans and followers how they use their SRM power systems to assist them in reaching their peak power capabilities ahead of major targeted events.
Mr Schoberer added, “SRM is extremely excited about working with such professional female athletes, striving to be the absolute best they can be.”
“It’s always satisfying to deliver performance enhancing news to our athletes…” Gilmore smiled. “Nice cars and all the glitzy goods our athletes receive are nice and very much appreciated but at the end of the day, it’s their performance they care about most and this partnership with SRM will most certainly give our athletes an additional tool to reach their maximum potential.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore put the disappointment of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders result behind her with a dominant sprint victory in the GP Dottignies, just south of the Belgian regional border in Wallonia. The former Belgian Champion was escorted into the finish by the black and orange squad’s sprint specialists, then launched herself at the line to finish more than a length clear of her former lead out rider, Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini). Jelena Eri? (BTC City Ljubljana) was third.
“After yesterday, it was good, D’hoore smiled afterwards. “Of course you can’t compare it to yesterday – it was a smaller race today – but still, a win is a win. And I’m happy with the legs today, I felt good. Then you just know that yesterday was just a really off day.
“It still hurts a lot, but I can’t say that I’m not in good shape because I am, and I showed it again today.”
The team behind D’hoore was similar that which rode Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, with two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, former double track World Champion Nettie Edmondson and Giro d’Italia winner Claudia Lichtenberg returning. The flatter nature of the Dottignies course, however, meant that Lucy and Grace Garner came in to maximise the team’s sprint options.
“We had a strong team,” D’hoore confirmed. “We had four sprinters, out of six! And Giorgia has won this race three times. We went into the race without a plan. We just wanted to have fun and be in the breakaways, and that’s what we did.
“Then halfway through the race, the girls came to me, and they said they wanted to do the lead out for me in the sprint. I was really honoured and I’m so grateful to them, that they gave me the chance; after yesterday especially.
“I’m just happy I could finish it off for them,” she smiled. “I know I have to give it back one day, and I will. I’m just so thankful now, to them.”
D’hoore’s decision to ride Dottignies was a last-minute one, after advice from the experienced Bronzini following her Tour of Flanders disappointment. The decision turned out to be a correct one, with the victory not only adding to D’hoore’s palmares but doing wonders to improve her morale.
“Normally I wasn’t planning to ride this race, but after the race yesterday I had a good talk with Giorgia,” D’hoore explained. “You know, she’s like my mentor, and she’s the mother of the team, and she cheered me up yesterday evening. She said that it was a good plan to race today, to forget Flanders especially.
“I listened to her advice, and thanks to her I’m feeling better now,” she laughed.
Next on D’hoore’s racing schedule will be to represent Belgium in the World Track Championships, in Hong Kong, between the 12th and 16th of April.
“Tomorrow morning I already have track training, and then I leave on Friday,” she confirmed. “My first race is the Scratch on Wednesday, and then Saturday the Madison [with Lotte Kopecky].”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini)
3. Jelena Eri? (BTC City Ljubljana)
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore will line up at the head of the black and orange team at Sunday’s Tour of Flanders – the Ronde van Vlaanderen – which starts and finishes in the picturesque Flemish Ardennes town of Oudenaarde. The former Belgian Champion is looking to go one better than her second place finish of 2015 – behind teammate Elisa Longo Borghini – in what is arguably the biggest day on the Belgian sporting calendar.
“Mostly I’m happy with the form I have right now, in the last couple of races,” she said. “Coming second is disappointing, certainly if it’s like a little difference like that – a photo finish – but then I saw the video again, and I saw that I just hesitated for just a fraction of a second a few hundred metres before the finish and maybe that cost me the victory.
Wednesday’s Pajot Hills Classic proved that D’hoore is not the only Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider to be going into the Tour of Flanders with good form. Nettie Edmondson’s powerful sprint victory shows that the Australian track specialist has some of the best road condition of her career. Claudia Lichtenberg’s presence at the front of the race, in support of her teammate, shows that the German has the form to be competing with the best in Flanders again.
“Not only Nettie and Claudia, we also have Elisa, Audrey, Gio, everyone,” D’hoore confirmed. “Every single rider in the team on Sunday is in good form. It’s one of the biggest races of the year, so yeah, I think it’s good for the team.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling for the Tour of Flanders
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Annette Edmondson(Australia), Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)