HomeNewsRace Reports: Three Tough Races for Cynisca in Europe

Race Reports: Three Tough Races for Cynisca in Europe

While some Cyniscas compteted in US races, four of our riders continued improving their form in Europe. The team also brought on a new sports director, Deena Blacking, delivering on our mission to advance more women in the sport both on and off the bike. Here’s Deena’s report on our most recent races in Europe.

Grand Prix Féminin de Chambéry (16 April 2023)

The race Grand Prix Féminin de Chambéry parcours was a tough and technical circuit of two shorter (8k) laps and 5 larger (18k) laps, which included most of the smaller 8k lap. The circuits were characterized by steep, punchy climbs on narrow country lanes, twisting technical descents with prominent speed bumps, and a bonus ‘gravel’ section at the top of the first climb of every lap. The larger lap featured two QOMs.

In the days leading up to the race, there was lots of rain in Chambéry. Although it didn’t rain on race day, some of the roads were still damp.  The race started fast and riders were immediately being dropped. Cynisca riders started reasonably well and all riders stayed in the main peloton for the first lap. In the second lap, Claire crashed on the gravel descent; she worked hard for several kilometers to get back to the peloton but didn’t succeed. 

The race continued to press on and many more riders were being distanced and dropped. By the start of the third lap – the first bigger lap with two QOMs – many more riders had been dropped; the peloton was no more than 30 or 40 riders. Émilie and Pauline were still fighting in the front group. Chloe and Greta had been distanced from the front and were part of chasing groups behind.

By lap five, only Émilie remained in the front group with about 25 riders. Chloe and Pauline were two minutes behind. Émilie continued to be in contention in this lead group until the beginning of the final lap, when she crashed on a steep technical decent. Neutral service helped her to get back on her bike and the team car supported her to the finish line; she arrived in 18th position. Pauline finished in 54th.

The level of variation in rider ability in this race was large. The race was dominated by FDJ and UAE Development, as well as some strong individual performances from Arkea and Top Girl Fasso Bartolo. Nearly all the points available in the sprints and GPMs were taken by these four teams. It was an incredibly tough parcours and the pace of the race was unforgiving. 

La Classique Morbihan (5 May 2023)

La Classique Morbihan is a UCI 1.1 race which started and finished in the Brittany town of Josselin. The race parcours sent the riders around one large clockwise lap (93 kilometres) of the surrounding countryside and neighbouring villages of Josselin, before entering a 5.3 kilometre town which they had to complete four times.

The larger single lap was a rolling, varied course with one notable longer climbing section of almost 4 kilometres. The 5.3 k small town lap was more unforgiving. Riders punched up a steep climb to the finish line each time and then followed a narrow and twisting country lane back down towards the river.

This was a pure scratch race. No primes, no QOMS. Just bike racing to the line. The field was mixed, with 2 World Tour Teams, 19 Continental teams, and 2 national teams and 5 French club teams.

Race day weather was rainy and cool. Strong cross and head winds, made for a defensive race on the large lap, with only two notable attacks in the first 75 kilometres of the race. There were several crashes in the race owing to rain and mud; the race was even neutralised for a few kilometres around 37 k into the race as a result of unsafe terrain (mud on the road).

Cynisca riders rode well as a team – riding together in the peloton, communicating on the radios, and supporting each other after the crashes.

The peloton remained largely complete, with all Cynisca riders, until the race made the approach to the small circuit. A decisive crash on the technical decent into the circuit acted to delay riders entering the circuit. This crash, coupled with the steep climb at the entry to tie circuit, caused the peloton to start splintering into groups. The splits were compounded by a strong attack from Uno X. A front bunch of 20 riders emerged. It was dominated by the World Tour and highly ranked continental teams, including four riders from AG Insurance. Émilie and Pauline were in the second peloton behind this group; Greta and Chloe were in the following group.

The final circuit was fast -paced and riders were unable to move up and close the gap. At 3 k to go, the group of 20 caught the lone Uno X rider. The race was eventually won by AG Insurance, with Fassa Bortolo (2nd) and UAE Development (3rd) sharing the podium.

Team Results: Emilie: 35th, Pauline: 67th, Greta: 84th, Chloe: 85th. 103 out of 141 riders finished the race.

Grand Prix Morbihan (6 May 2023)

Grand Prix Morbihan is a UCI 1.1 race which started and finished in the Brittany town of Plumelec. The race parcours was less a test of technical racing skills, and more a brutal test of climbing fitness. Three large laps, followed by seven smaller laps, all contained a tough climb of more than 1 kilmetre up the Côte de Cadoudal to the finish line. The terrain was a mix of main roads and smaller narrower Brittany country roads. Rain made the roads slippery and mud from the surrounding fields contributed to some crashes throughout the race.

This was another pure scratch race. No primes, no QOMS. Just bike racing to the line. The field was mixed, with 3 World Tour Teams, 19 Continental teams, and 2 national teams and 5 French club teams.

After racing the afternoon before in La Classique Morbihan, it was predicted that this would be a very attritional race which favoured Émilie the most. The riders all aimed to support Émilie to be in the best position, and also for each of them to be in the best position for themselves going into the start of the Cadoudal climb.

Race day weather was rainy and cool. The first lap saw a crash which separated many riders from the main peloton. Chloé was caught in the crash but worked her way back to the peloton, along with many other riders. Cynisca riders rode well, staying in good positions, riding toether, and using the team radios to communicate. An attack came on the start of the third lap from three riders but it was brought back by the bottom of the decent. The decisive move of the race came at the start of the first small lap. Grace Brown from FDJ went off the front on a solo attack, forcing other riders to increase the pace. This blew the peloton apart and riders started to be dropped from the main group at a fast pace.

On lap five of ten, at 54 kilometers into the race – more than halfway – Émilie was still comfortably in the front group. Greta and Pauline were in a second group, and Chloé was in a third group.

In lap six, the race exploded, and more riders were being distanced. During the remainder of the race, different teams in the front peloton made some efforts to reduce the gap to the solo breakaway but the race parcours made it difficult for a successful and sustained chase.

The final climb up to the finish line was one in which the peloton splintered as each rider gave their best individual effort. Riders continued to cross the finish line for 10-20 minutes, such was the attritional nature of the race.

Team Results: Emilie: 24th, Greta: 77th, Pauline: 78th, Chloe: DNF. Only 81 out of 152 riders finished the race.

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