Women’s Pro Racing

womens race

There has been effort made for the equitable treatment of women’s road cycling in recent years.  Individuals championing the cause have even gotten the Tour de France organizers to establish La Course by Le Tour de France. This is a one-day women’s criterium held on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Organizers are seeking new sponsors for a more involved women’s tour. Spain’s Tour, named The Vuelta, may also be expanding opportunities for the women’s pro peloton.

The Amgen Tour of California is on the fore-front of the women’s cycling movement.  For 2015 there will be four days total of racing in California for the pro women. There will be a first of its kind three day women’s cycling stage race.  On Friday, May 8, 2015 Women’s Stage 1 will be held in South Lake Tahoe. Saturday’s Stage 2 race will again be held in South Lake Tahoe. Sacramento will host Stage 3 on Sunday, May 10th which coincides with the men’s overall start in Sacramento for Stage 1.  The fourth day of racing for invited women that may include World and Olympic Champions will be held in Big Bear Lake on the same exact course that the men will be riding.

The Women’s Invitational Time Trial will have around 20 world class professional women racing on Friday, May 15th, 2015. The women will race prior to the men’s scheduled Stage 6 Big Bear Lake Time Trial. The course will be longer than the Redlands Classic Women’s and Men’s Time Trial route with the additional distance for the start and finish to be located in the Big Bear Lake Village area.

One new and very exciting recent development is the announcement that the 2015 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Big Bear Lake Time Trial has secured a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 1.1 ranking.  This 1.1 ranking is the highest classification for a non-World Cup single-day race on the UCI’s calendar. This ranking also makes the Big Bear Lake Invitational Women’s Time Trial the highest ranked UCI women’s race in the United States behind the World Cup scheduled in Philadelphia later in July. The high ranking should attract many of the world’s best women time trialists to travel to Big Bear Lake to compete for a very prestigious race win and honor.

The Big Bear Lake Time Trial will be very unique as compared to other Stage host cities with “Twice the Fun” spectator opportunities;

  • Pro Women and Pro Men racing,
  • Stage start and race finish are a short walk apart.
  • Lifestyle Expo and Pro Team Bus paddock area also just a short walk away.
  • The chance to possibly see each rider go by twice on their way out and on the way back.

- Ray Dicius, 2015 Amgen Tour of California Big Bear Time Trial Stage Local Organizing Committee Vice-Chair

Big Bear Lake Time Trial spectating and Big Bear Lake vistas – Twice the Fun!

womens procycling

Aero versus Power

stage3-winner

There are three specific variables to consider when debating the aero vs. power issue. One is the rider. The second is the time trial bicycle. The third variable is the Big Bear Time Trial course. Let’s begin with the rider since they are the engine and most important ingredient.

Time Trialists make a conscious decision when they set up their time trial bikes for fit and function. In the set-up process, decisions are made based on the individual riders personal preferences while considering strengths and capabilities. Basically the actual set-up comes down to trade-offs. A balance needs to be made between aerodynamics and power. If the rider chooses a more aero position there is a possibility of a loss of power. If the rider chooses a more powerful riding position, there can be a loss of aerodynamics. Flexibility, core strength, fitness, body type, as well as many other factors come into play. Some pro riders will be looking to just finish the time trial to continue to support their general classification rider and their team. Some will be competing to move up in the standings and to make a name for themselves. Some top placed riders will try to not lose time to their competitors or to maintain or maybe even improve their overall race ranking. The leading general classification riders and all of the Time Trial specialist will be going all out for the Big Bear Time Trial Stage win.

Time Trial bikes are very unique and specialized pieces of equipment. They may be a bit heavier than a road bicycle, a little bit longer in wheelbase, and designed to be the most aerodynamic in tube shapes and frontal area. There is also design consideration for airflow over the rider, frame and wheels. Front brakes are often hidden and built into or mounted behind the forks. Rear brakes can be in their usual position mounted on a seat stay bridge or hidden away in the bottom bracket area for aero benefit. Time Trial bikes have aero bars with electronic or mechanical shifters at rider fingertips. Aero bar height, the amount of drop and reach from the saddle, and even the type of extension bar are all carefully chosen and tested for fit and position. More blunt nosed saddles are being used by the pro-peloton for time trialing.  Front wheels have deeper rim profiles and rear wheels are disc. There are standards that Time Trial bikes  get tested for just before the rider enters the start ramp. Some of the testing parameters include fore/aft saddle position and aero bar end length. Many riders spend time on their time trial bike and positioning in wind tunnel testing with their coaches, team and bike manufacturers to optimize aerodynamics while staying within the mandated rider position parameters.

Riders also set up their time trial bikes based on the type and length of course. If a course is technical or has more climbing they will set up their bike for power. If the course is flat and not as technical, such as the Big Bear Time Trial course for 2015, the bike set-up will probably lean towards an optimized aerodynamic position. Simply put, a more aero position can be a flatter or lower torso, lower head and hands, narrowing of shoulders, elbows and arms, and a time trial specific aero helmet that may have less cooling effect. If the rider position is too low there can be a loss of power. Too much lowering or narrowing can also cause power loss due to less comfort, less ability to maintain that position, and possibly less oxygen uptake. Important to balance all these trade-offs for optimal performance.

At almost 7000 feet of Big Bear altitude and for a short time trial course with max effort, riders will for sure be trying very hard to catch their breath after finishing on scenic Pine Knot Landing. For the Aero at Altitude spectators watching many of the world’s best time trialist going by in both directions for hours on end at unbelievable speeds may just take their breath away. Big Bear Time Trial – breathtaking!

- Ray Dicius, 2015 Amgen Tour of California Big Bear Time Trial Stage Local Organizing Committee Vice-Chair

Partial View of Big Bear Lake

Partial View of Big Bear Lake