The Giro Donne’s status has seen the GC riders of recent generations all spar off to take the victory in Italy. So in recent years, honours have been shared between Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, with Megan Guarnier the last another rider to win in 2016. Multiple wins are a regular occurrence, with Vos taking 3 wins in the early 2010s
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With this year’s Itzulia Women, women’s racing in the Basque County has come full circle after quite a lot of change in recent years. We used to have the long-term staple of the Emakumeen Bira stage race which ran from 1988 to 2019. One of the major stage races, surprisingly given the climbing it was a race that neither Anna van der Breggen nor Annemiek van Vleuten ever actually won.
Liege Bastogne Liege Femmes is another relatively new race on the women’s calendar. First held in 2017, it gives riders the chance to cover roads raced by the men’s peloton in one of their monuments. Although the race is called Liege Bastogne Liege still, the women’s race starts in Bastogne and before heading to Liege.
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine or the Women’s Flèche Wallonne has been running since 1998. A relatively long history for a modern women’s cycling race. In its 20+ year history, the race has only seen 10 different winners. Anna van der Breggen has won Flèche Wallonne Féminine 7 times, Marianne Vos 5 times, with Fabiana Luperini and Nicole Cooke both 3-time winners.
It was a long time coming but the first women’s Paris Roubaix finally took place in 2021. We’d been teased that Paris Roubaix Femmes was taking place after the COVID lockdown in 2020 but further measures derailed the race. It was the same story in the spring of 2021 but finally, in October 2021, we saw a women’s peloton on the cobbles.
The women’s Amstel Gold Race returned last season. It was heavily altered, turned into a large circuit based around the Cauberg, the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg. The constant climbing was hoped to be attritional but ultimately we saw a reasonably large sprint after the Cauberg. Despite the attack of Niewiadoma, no-one would work with her and it proved fruitless. Vos took the sprint ahead of Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten.
The first Women’s Tour of Flanders took place in 2004. The route followed the last 55km of the men’s race with a bit before it to take the distance up to 94km. The finish parcours from that time is now used for Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Riders climb Kapelmuur before riding the tree-lined Bosberg. Zulfiya Zabirova won the first race with an attack on Kapelmuur itself.
The Women’s Gent Wevelgem has been running since 2012. Taking place on the same day as the men’s race, the women’s version starts from Ypres and finishes in Wevelgem. The route takes in the infamous Kemmelberg, although the women haven’t tackled the steepest Ossuary side until this year’s race.
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