Blog of the month: Unofficial Unsanctioned Women’s UCI Cycling

Sarah Connolly and Dan Wright wax lyrical and super-enthusiastically about women’s road racing.

Simple layout, great enthusiasm

When the Olympic road race of 2012 came down to a gladiatorial combat between Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead, it was like a whole continent suddenly woke up to the excitement and drama of women’s road racing.

It didn’t hurt that the race was made double tough by a drenching summer rainstorm and was about a billion times more exciting than the previous day’s men’s snooze-fest. As the men’s race was won by an unrepentant drug cheat after an interesting-looking conversation on the approach to the line, the dogged struggle between Vos and Armitstead looked so much more like a real race.

The final four in a rain-drenched Olympic road race proved just why women’s racing is so great. Image by RS Deakin via Flickr

All those people who woke up to the greatness of women’s racing on July 29 had obviously failed to ask Sarah Connolly and Dan Wright. Their ‘Unofficial Unsanctioned Women’s UCI Cycling Blog’ brims and bursts with unbridled – and often sweary – enthusiasm for women’s racing.

In fact it’s sub-titled ‘A sweary blog about professional women’s cycling’ so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

That said, most of the swearing seems to be Dan’s; Sarah is simply a wonderful, unashamed but smart and knowledgeable fan. For example, here she is raving about the recent Tour of Qatar after saying that the men’s doping revelations, the winter and the struggles women’s racing was having to remain viable had got her down:

“The Tour of Qatar is being televised by Al Jazeera (here, 11:30 and 19:00 GMT each day) – and I sneaked onto the stream today at work (small window, clicking away every time anyone came into the office) and BAM, I’m enraptured, excited, engaged, giddily besotted all over again.

“It was SUCH A GOOD STAGE!!! today! A break of 3 – Valentina Scandolara, Audrey Cordon and Małgorzata Jasińska – had been out ahead for ages. No one was particularly keen on chasing, but then Orica-AIS tore the race apart, 5 of their 6 riders – Emma Johansson, Tiffany Cromwell, Loes Gunnewijk, Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt – jumping together, making the decisive break in a move we’re most used to seeing from Specialized-lululemon or Rabobank.

“It sounds like it took everyone by surprise….. well, nearly everyone! Only four riders managed to go with them, so on paper, that should be a a guaranteed Orica victory, right? Well…. except look at those four riders – Stage 1 winner and race leader Chloe Hosking, for Hitec, killer sprinter Ellen van Dijk, and woman-most-likely to win Most Aggressive rider in any race, Trixi Worrack for Spec-lulu, and the absolute queen of Dutch sprinting, Kisten Wild, riding her first race for her new team, Argos-Shimano. That’s three of the top sprinters in the peloton, and some seriously clever race tacticians.

“They caught the escape trio, and Van Dijk in particular kept racing on the front, keeping the pace up so despite all the Orica attempts, no one could get away. When it hit the endgame, the final 10km, it was just BEAUTIFUL to watch – attacks and catch, Orica’s collection of escape-experts and Classics stars making their moves, but unable to get away, as Wild and Worrack, especially, leapt on every hint of a move. My heart was in my mouth as it came down to a final sprint – Wild taking the initiative, with scrappy little Worrack right on her wheel – a photofinish, Wild victorious, ahead of Worrack, Van Dijk, Hosking and Emma Johansson, the first Orica rider, coming in fifth.

“And you should have seen my grin! I was elated, it was an incredible race, and it felt SO GOOD to be reminded of why I love this sport! That familiar rush of joyous energy – this is what the season is like, this is why I will always be a fan!

“It reminded me how grateful I am to the peloton for everything they give us. As hard as it is for me to have to watch the freakshow that is the men’s doping saga, imagine being the women, racing for peanuts, giving up careers, settled lifestyles and all kinds of luxuries to follow their passions. I really want to say, to every single rider,

Dear women’s peloton – THANK YOU for everything you do, all that training, all that sacrifice, all the entertainment you provide. I really, really appreciate it – it sounds corny, but you really do make my life more fun!

It’s utterly infectious, however many races you’ve seen and ‘the drugs are for my dog’ stories you read and that’s why we love the Unofficial Unsanctioned Women’s UCI Cycling Blog.


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