Tomorrow at 12 PM, U23 women will compete again in a separated European Championship race, after the mixing with the elite riders we saw last year in Brittany. U23 women will already know how the junior race was, so maybe some of the tactics could change. Or not. Or maybe it’s the weather what changes. Who knows?
Theoretically, the chances of heavy rain during the race are… well, 100%, according to weather.com. So the roads will get wet and dangerous, something that can change the progression of the race, as there will be some riders and nations interested in avoiding the massive sprint.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) did. As you know, the U23 race was mixed with the elite one, so Kasia actually got two medals: the elite silver and the U23 gold. It was precisely the Poland rider who attacked in the last kilometer of the race, selecting the 25-rider group. In the last meters, an agonal sprint made Anna van der Breggen become elite champion ahead of Niewiadoma. The U23 silver medal was for Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) and the bronze one for Séverine Eraud (France).
And how is the course?
As flat as the rest. In fact it is the same 20-kilometer circuit, with not many heavy turns (that’s good in order to avoid crashes under the rain), and that makes us think we will see a massive sprint.
I want to bet. Who’s going to win?
If you’re just looking for one name, note down this one: Alice Barnes (United Kingdom). The British rider is probably the fastest sprinter in this U23 peloton, as we saw in BeNe Ladies Tour (where she won stage 1) or during Women’s Tour of Britain (with three top-10 spots). She’s indeed our favorite for the win.
But the Italian squad is pretty strong for a race like this and riders like Rachele Barbieri or Arianna Fidanza are fast enough to win the European Championship. We mustn’t forget the Dutch national team, with remarkable names such as Floortje Mackaij or even Jip van den Bos, although the rider from Oostknolledam has not competed since May due to a broken arm.
National champion Lisa Klein will be the leader of the German team (and she’s fast!), Agnieszka Skalniak could sprint for Poland, Norway’s Susanne Andersen, in her first year as an U23 rider, has shown how strong she is, Russia’s Anastasia Iakovenko should also fight for a top-5 spot… and what about the Spanish chances? Alicia González made it to the podium in a stage at BeNe Ladies Tour, so we can be sure she will try to fight for the win.