Women's Chrono des Nations History
The Chrono des Nations is an end of season one-off time trial that holds a decent place on the calendar. After the World Championships, this is one of the few races where time trial specialists can all face off directly against each other without any other stages to have to worry about.
The list of winners includes loads of time trial stars from the women’s peloton. The list at cadette level has Clara Copponi, Victoire Berteau and Francesca Barale. Moving up to Juniors, you’ve got a world champion in Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, a national champion in Audrey Cordon-Ragot, plus the likes of Pauliena Rooijakkers and Marie le Net.
The Elite list is longer and is pretty much a who’s who of women’s time trialling. Recent years have seen Marlen Reusser, Leah Thomas and Audrey Cordon-Ragot win. Looking furtherc back it’s Amber Neben, Olga Zabelinskaya and some of the stars of the 80s and 90s in Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo and Zulfiya Zabirova.
Centred on Les Herbiers in the Pays de la Loire region of Western France, the women’s race will last for 27.2km. Slightly undulating, the course is neither perfectly flat nor hilly either. There are showers forecast and the current wind direction should make it a headwind out, tailwind back race with the wind speed high enough at 15-25kph to make things tough.
Women's Chrono des Nations 2022 Stage Profile
Women's Chrono des Nations 2022 Contenders
The obvious big favourite at this year’s Women’s Chrono des Nations is the World Champ Ellen van Dijk. The Trek rider is the only one from the podium in Wollongong and should comfortably have enough to take the win here. There’s not a massive amount of time trials to pull results from but Van Dijk’s worst finish all year in a TT is 2nd at the European Championships. Van Dijk winning feels like the easiest call of the season.
Anna Kiesenhofer is the only other rider at the Chrono des Nations who finished in the top 10 at Wollongong. We saw the Austria up to her old tricks in the Ceratizit Challenge with a long solo break and she’s clearly in form. Against this field, she should finish on the podium.
American Amber Neben has had a quiet year in terms of UCI results but still finished 2nd at the USA national championships at the age of 47. She missed out on victory there by 44 seconds to Leah Thomas and not winning ultimately meant that she didn’t get to go race in the World Championships this year despite finishing 4th the year before in Flanders.
You have to go all the way down to 20th place at the Worlds to find a 3rd rider from Wollongong riding here. Marie Le Net was also 3rd at the U23 European Championships and a surprisingly distant 5th at the Mediterranean Games. It’s hard to confidently know where to place the French rider here but top 5 is possible.
It’s a similar story for Belgian rider Julie van de Velde who has been up and down with her TT results this year. A slightly disappointing 5th at Belgian Nats was off-set by 7th at the European Championships. But then she was down in 18th at the Simac Ladies Tour and 22nd at the Worlds. Understandably, given her road results, it seems she does best when there is more climbing, so may be further behind than her #3 position suggests.
It gets tricky trying to place others like Elena Hartmann too. The Swiss national TT champion thanks to Marlen Reusser not racing this year, she’s finished a good 9th in the European Championships but down in 26th at the World Championships. With this field surely a top 10 is possible but I can’t confidently predict anything higher.
Women's Chrono des Nations 2022 Outsiders
Cédrine Kerbaol has a pair of bronze medals in time trials this season. A contender in the French national championships, she wasn’t far behind Cordon-Ragot and Labous ahead of her and followed it up with 3rd in the Mediterranean Games. So a week later, that made her 11th in the U23 European Championships slightly disappointing with probably a higher placing expected. Most of her road races since have seen her DNF so her form would suggest a surprise podium won’t be on the cards at this year’s Chrono des Nations.
Italian former women’s hour record holder Vittoria Bussi was 5th in last year’s Chrono des Nations but has only done the national championships out of all the major TT races this year. She was 4th in the Italian nats, a long way behind the WWT trio of Longo Borghini, Guazzini and Cavalli. Reaching the top 5 again would be a good result for her.
As a Brit, I can never rule out Emily Meakin when it comes to time trials. A multiple national champion in non-UCI races she’s a rider like Hayley Simmonds who often ends up slower when forced to adhere to the UCI ruleset. She was 4th at British nats this year, but that was only 30 seconds behind the winner Joss Lowden. She beat Audrey Cordon-Ragot at the Dutch national level Omloop van Borsele TT this year so there’s always a chance for a really strong result here.