Velominati Super Prestige: Fléche Wallonne Femmes 2012

Armstrong and Arndt photo by B. Denti

During the Ronde von Vlaanderen, we of the 2012 Keeper’s Spring Classic Tour were right on the Oude Kwaremont climb as the women big-ringed it up the cobbles. Kristin Armstrong (US Women’s Team) was burying herself to get on Judith Arndt’s (Greenedge) wheel. It looked like the winning break was going right in front of our eyes. Seeing professional cyclists in action is always a humbling experience and seeing these women was no exception. Damn, these women looked great: fit, strong, awesome and crushing the Oude Kwaremont in the Ronde. They must have been jazzed too, anyone who gets to race these fabled climbs must get a buzz storming up, urged on by the massive throng of beer infused Belgian fans.

They will be doing it again on the Mur de Huy on Wednesday. Will they be as psyched to crush that climb? Perhaps the winner will but everyone else might find it a bit too steep the second time around. This year’s course is 123km, 13.5km longer than last year’s with two ascents of the Mur de Huy. Marianne Vos (Rabobank) was sick for the Ronde but she is the heavy favorite having won Fléche Wallonne Femmes only the last four times. Stay on her wheel until the final 30 meters and pop by for the win. How hard can that be? Bloody impossible judging from her previous record yet betting against Armstrong, Arndt or Pooley seems foolhardy.

It’s cheating to look at Cyclop’s picks. He obviously sold his soul to the devil, that might be cheating, I’m not sure. The betting office window closes early Wednesday morning so do your worst. Here is the start list.

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220 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Fléche Wallonne Femmes 2012”

  1. 1. Evelyn Stevens Team Specialized- Lululemon 03:26:32
    2. Marianne Vos Rabobank Women Team 00:04
    3. Linda Villumsen GreenEdge-AIS 00:20
    4. Lucinda Brand AA Drink – Leontien.nl 00:27
    5. Ashleigh Moolman Lotto Belisol Ladies 00:41

  2. Never been able to be a Stevens fan. Being a hardman means you come from a working class, blue collar, yeoman stock. You work all day in the fields or in the factory, then cycle all night sacrificing your life to then race on weekends for nothing but glory. Stevens was a wall street stock broker who had plenty in the bank when she was able to just give up her job and take up a hobby. Meh.

  3. @eightzero

    Never been able to be a Stevens fan. Being a hardman means you come from a working class, blue collar, yeoman stock. You work all day in the fields or in the factory, then cycle all night sacrificing your life to then race on weekends for nothing but glory. Stevens was a wall street stock broker who had plenty in the bank when she was able to just give up her job and take up a hobby. Meh.

    So Museeuw is not a Hardman?

  4. @eightzero @Tobin

    Secretly I total agree with you eightzero, just feeling cantankerous after my ride this morning where I fazed out for about 2 seconds and bagged a HUGE pothole and blew out my front tire. I was on my clincher wheelset as my tub front wheel is being rebuilt as I write so it did not handle it at all well. But, quick fix and the overall ride was great, just mad at myself for not paying attention the whole time like I should have.

  5. Glorious showing here in the VSP with a 9-way tie for first with 1 point each…though I shouldn’t talk since I Delgado’d again. Woops.
    [vsp_results id=”15437″]
    [/vsp_results]

  6. OK, I’m new around here so take this with a grain of salt…I think the scoring may be off. I show zero points, though I picked Vos to win – shouldn’t that get me 1 point since she was top 5?

  7. @Nosyt

    OK, I’m new around here so take this with a grain of salt…I think the scoring may be off. I show zero points, though I picked Vos to win – shouldn’t that get me 1 point since she was top 5?

    Go to your picks,click on the little black triangle next to Vos. You can figure it out from there.

  8. @frank
    Frank: I think it will be about a 100 person tie as most people had Vos but she is not tracking for points for some reason.

  9. @Buck Rogers
    I had Vos to finish second, which she did. Isn’t that worth more than one point? As it is I am shown with zero!

  10. @Buck Rogers
    Gotta disagree…on Stevens…not on blowing out that tire, that totally sucks. Being a hardman is about suffering on the bike. Stevens quit her job and took a run at the one thing she was passionate about and made it work. Who cares what her finances are? She is dedicated to her sport and is laying down some serious V. I ride in all types of crap weather, I ride early or late cause I have 3 kids and a great job where I make good coin. Can I never be a hardman because I am not toiling in a field for next to nothing? (although somedays the field option is more appealing than my 3 kids!!!) Sorry – a little cantankerous as I didn’t get to ride this a.m.!

  11. @Tobin
    Yeah, I know, but there is something so romantic about the idea of Hardmen/women being forged from a hard life since birth a la King Kelly, and, afterall, isn’t cycling all about the romance anyways?

  12. @Mikel Pearce

    @Buck Rogers
    I had Vos to finish second, which she did. Isn’t that worth more than one point? As it is I am shown with zero!

    Hell, you’re asking me?!?!?! Seems like you must have more points than 1 but I do not track it that closely! I leave that up to Frank as he seems to just love running down these bugs and disputes, right?

  13. @Tobin

    @Buck Rogers
    Gotta disagree…on Stevens…not on blowing out that tire, that totally sucks. Being a hardman is about suffering on the bike. Stevens quit her job and took a run at the one thing she was passionate about and made it work. Who cares what her finances are? She is dedicated to her sport and is laying down some serious V. I ride in all types of crap weather, I ride early or late cause I have 3 kids and a great job where I make good coin. Can I never be a hardman because I am not toiling in a field for next to nothing? (although somedays the field option is more appealing than my 3 kids!!!) Sorry – a little cantankerous as I didn’t get to ride this a.m.!

    It is easy to be dedicated to a sport when the consequences of failure are ameliorated by knowing there’s a wad of cash in the bank. You buy the best bike, pay the best coach, and let’s face it – buy the best dope and doctors. The jet takes you directly to the nice hotel. The kids come watch the race from the VIP tent. This is not sacrifice.

    I appreciate seeing anyone lay down the V, and I respect all they do. It is just that this is comeptition, and as a fan I get to pick my favorites. And I have subjective criteria for that – I care where they come from.

  14. @Buck Rogers
    I’ll need to remind myself of “the romance” when birds are making nests in my wheels as I slog my ass up the local hill run tonight….I will be the guy yelling, ‘Where’s the romanace?!!!”, as all the skinny bastards drop me.

  15. Remember to dispute your points if you didn’t get the points you expected. Click on the little arrow beside your pick and click on the word “dispute” Frank will fix it.

  16. I think there is still something wrong with the coding: it keeps mapping Emma Johansson as JohansenCecilie

  17. @eightzero
    While I can appreciate your stance – your generalizations are pretty skewed (and in her case factually wrong) but hey, we can agree to disagree!

  18. @Buck Rogers
    Yopu seemed like as good a choice as any! Plus, with you I know I’ll get a snappy, moderately entertaining reply!

  19. @Tobin

    @Buck Rogers
    I’ll need to remind myself of “the romance” when birds are making nests in my wheels as I slog my ass up the local hill run tonight….I will be the guy yelling, ‘Where’s the romanace?!!!”, as all the skinny bastards drop me.

    Yeah, it seems that the “romance” escapes me most times during the moment but slips back in later that night over a nice glass of bourbon or Grand Marnier.

    Kill’em on the climb later tonight!

  20. @eightzero
    I think its easy to glorify the luxury of financial stability – in a lot of ways I think its HARDER to be dedicated to the sport when money doesn’t play a role (besides, I’m not sure she was the kind of high-level banker that money is no object). What reason does she have to go out in the pouring rain to train and to do hill repeats?

    If you accept the premise that she doesn’t need the money, then the only thing driving her is her passion for the sport. I think that’s cool as fuck. I like her, and I like her story.

    I like that she got into the sport late and found a calling – and committed to it full stop. It gives me hope that we still have a chance to get good some day.

  21. @Netraam

    I think there is still something wrong with the coding: it keeps mapping Emma Johansson as JohansenCecilie

    Thanks for the constructive tip! There’s nothing wrong with the logic, but some bad historical data from last year’s Worlds that upset the way the picks get automatically mapped. I went through and updated the database to get that bad stuff out of there, and we now have a dramatic shift in the VSP for the women’s event. Thanks! +1 badge goes to you for (a) being specific enough that we can debug it and (b) not just asking questions about points in-line instead of using the dispute system. Thanks.

  22. Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

  23. @Fausto

    Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

    Damn, Man, you’re pulling down the Launterne Rouge on this race, that’s cooler than one point, right? (and bloody i-Product’s “autocorrect” function has screwed me up sooo many times. Is there anyway to turn that crap off?)

  24. @niksch

    Interesting WSJ article from 2009 about Evelyn Stevens. Not sure how much $$$ she could have racked up in a couple years on Wall Street, or why that would really be important, but it appears to me that she has applied a solid work ethic to her cycling efforts and it has paid off for her. In my opinion, that is what is important. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204908604574334741597350028.html

    Yeah, but can’t you all just picture her covered in Irish crapmud hauling paving stones with her bare, grimey hands at 4 in the morning and seeing Kelly ride by in the cold rain and her having an epiphony and saying to herself, “I neeeeeed to get a bike.” Now THAT is how real hardmen/women are forged!

  25. @frank

    @eightzero
    I think its easy to glorify the luxury of financial stability – in a lot of ways I think its HARDER to be dedicated to the sport when money doesn’t play a role (besides, I’m not sure she was the kind of high-level banker that money is no object). What reason does she have to go out in the pouring rain to train and to do hill repeats?

    If you accept the premise that she doesn’t need the money, then the only thing driving her is her passion for the sport. I think that’s cool as fuck. I like her, and I like her story.

    I like that she got into the sport late and found a calling – and committed to it full stop. It gives me hope that we still have a chance to get good some day.

    It’s just my opinion. I think it is easier to have a passion for sport when there isn’t anything distracting you. Like how am I going to pay the mortgage, feed my kids, make my student loan payments, pay for a new bike, etc etc. Nothing more frustrating to me to see peopple that don’t compete on a level playing field. You do hill repeats and intervals all day becuase you don’t have anything else to do. Easy choice to make, although those hill repeats are just as hard.

    I freely admit that my “facts” are drawn from a short magazine article (_Bicycling_ I think) from a few years ago. “Wall Street Exec Turns Pro” or something like that. Turned me off. Yeah, can she beat the crap out of me? Sure. Would I like to be like her? Sure. Do I respect her hard work? Sure. Doesn’t mean I don’t like seeing someone who does that *and has to work for a living* beat her in a race. *That’s* cool as fuck.

    OK – so… Willow Kobler: Discuss.

  26. @Buck Rogers

    @niksch

    Interesting WSJ article from 2009 about Evelyn Stevens. Not sure how much $$$ she could have racked up in a couple years on Wall Street, or why that would really be important, but it appears to me that she has applied a solid work ethic to her cycling efforts and it has paid off for her. In my opinion, that is what is important. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204908604574334741597350028.html

    Yeah, but can’t you all just picture her covered in Irish crapmud hauling paving stones with her bare, grimey hands at 4 in the morning and seeing Kelly ride by in the cold rain and her having an epiphony and saying to herself, “I neeeeeed to get a bike.” Now THAT is how real hardmen/women are forged!

    Funny story; Willie Nelson was working in a ditch somewhere in the Georgia summer’s heat, and a guy drove by in his air-conditioned Caddilac. He said to himself, “I’m going about this the wrong way” and get to work becoming an international music star.

  27. @frank
    \\ Agree. There’s no buying a way into sport and assuming that exceptional performance begins. I train and race with a mixed bag and money does not roll out with us — only work. The group(s) member(s) that I train with are measured by work alone. And I would give esteem when it is due — by work alone.
    @eightzero
    Being on the bike and individual determination levels the playing field.

  28. @eightzero

    It’s just my opinion. I think it is easier to have a passion for sport when there isn’t anything distracting you. Like how am I going to pay the mortgage, feed my kids, make my student loan payments, pay for a new bike, etc etc. Nothing more frustrating to me to see peopple that don’t compete on a level playing field. You do hill repeats and intervals all day becuase you don’t have anything else to do. Easy choice to make, although those hill repeats are just as hard.

    But how many riders on elite teams, men or women, really have these concerns/distractions? They are getting paid to train and race, right? I know there are compensation disparities between men and women, but at this level how many of them actually have to buy their own bike to race?

  29. @Vin’cenza

    @frank
    \\ Agree. There’s no buying a way into sport and assuming that exceptional performance begins. I train and race with a mixed bag and money does not roll out with us “” only work. The group(s) member(s) that I train with are measured by work alone. And I would give esteem when it is due “” by work alone.
    @eightzero
    Being on the bike and individual determination levels the playing field.

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions? Sure. But when it comes to competition, wining and losing, *money talks*. Professional Sport is *all about money*. I choose to root for the underdog, the common (wo)man, the person that overcomes the same kinds of things I never could.

    My coach’s coach one said something that always stuck with me: “it isn’t what you are willing to do to achive success – it is what you are willing to give up to assure success.” Sacrifice, suffereing, perserverence – all these things, even off the bike, off the playing field, are important. I want to see amateur athletes succeed – those who sacrifice *everything* for their passion. I will root for them over those who have fewer obsticles.

  30. @eightzero
    If we are talking about amateur athletes, then I agree with your comment too. (nothing like riding the fence, huh?) But these women, and Evelyn Stevens, are pros.

  31. @niksch

    @eightzero
    If we are talking about amateur athletes, then I agree with your comment too. (nothing like riding the fence, huh?) But these women, and Evelyn Stevens, are pros.

    And it is important to me how they got to be pros. I’m just not a fan of spoiled little rich kids. Unless there are circumstances where they clearly overcame that – and fairly, there are associated burdens.

    Root for who you want. I can be a fan of good play, athletic prowess, keenly honed skill, superior tactics, plain ‘ol perseverence. But when the sprint opens up, someone wins, someone loses. I know who I root for. That’s sport.

    Or, as Sean Connery said in _The Rock_: “Your ‘best’? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”

  32. @eightzero

    @Vin’cenza

    @frank
    \\ Agree. There’s no buying a way into sport and assuming that exceptional performance begins. I train and race with a mixed bag and money does not roll out with us “” only work. The group(s) member(s) that I train with are measured by work alone. And I would give esteem when it is due “” by work alone.
    @eightzero
    Being on the bike and individual determination levels the playing field.

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions? Sure. But when it comes to competition, wining and losing, *money talks*. Professional Sport is *all about money*. I choose to root for the underdog, the common (wo)man, the person that overcomes the same kinds of things I never could.

    My coach’s coach one said something that always stuck with me: “it isn’t what you are willing to do to achive success – it is what you are willing to give up to assure success.” Sacrifice, suffereing, perserverence – all these things, even off the bike, off the playing field, are important. I want to see amateur athletes succeed – those who sacrifice *everything* for their passion. I will root for them over those who have fewer obsticles.

    \\ A grey area. Determination, where does it come from ?? DNA or extra time to spare. Which comes first the bike or the cyclist. From my personal experience I have had entire (Campagnolo) gruppos sponsored, but only after I found my own frame (Basso for 70.00). Really, then is when I felt that I must ride because equipment was thrown at my feet (not a good feeling). When I mustered my own deal to buy a Pinarello Montello in the 90s and build it with my own time and money — it meant more. I crashed that bike in 2010. Started all over within 3 months, but had much more determination. Experience brings determination, not training alone. Perfect DNA helps tremendously and those are the types that end up on teams. Where they should be. But a grey area still.

  33. Gasparotto is a Playboy — what is his story ?? Did you uphold his victory ?? We don’t care how he got there, but he sure does. And he is fighting for it (at the moment).

  34. I would love to be able to train more, but I don’t even have the money for a proper bicycle and I do not have the time to. Even when I do have time it is often already 10 o’clock or even later. You can’t do a 6 hour ride when that means you go to bed at 4.

    Money would help me to become a serious cyclist, as opposed to a dreamer who is less talented than he thinks. (or more talented, I don’t even know where my limits are.)

  35. @Fausto

    Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

    Dispute your pick and we’ll correct it.

    @Buck Rogers

    @Fausto

    Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

    Damn, Man, you’re pulling down the Launterne Rouge on this race, that’s cooler than one point, right? (and bloody i-Product’s “autocorrect” function has screwed me up sooo many times. Is there anyway to turn that crap off?)

    Yes, go into your settings and turn it off!

  36. @eightzero

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions?

    Every Pro is no more distracted by these things than you or I are by them in doing our own jobs. It is their job to train and race, just as it is your job to do whatever you do from 9-5.

    There are very few who are free from worry about bills and mortgages, and in all likelihood, many of the male stars you admire make way more money than she does and have much less to worry about financially. Better scrap the top 15% of the elite field, including people like Merckx who made a very healthy living from Cycling!

  37. @frank
    Ahhh, thanks Frank, my complete stone age computer knowledge is showing. Now how much do I owe you for the tech support? You guys make around $100 bucks an hour, right?

  38. @frank

    @eightzero

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions?

    Every Pro is no more distracted by these things than you or I are by them in doing our own jobs. It is their job to train and race, just as it is your job to do whatever you do from 9-5.

    There are very few who are free from worry about bills and mortgages, and in all likelihood, many of the male stars you admire make way more money than she does and have much less to worry about financially. Better scrap the top 15% of the elite field, including people like Merckx who made a very healthy living from Cycling!

    Not my point at all. The other stars, male or female, in any sport rightfully wear the laurels of the success they have achieved as competitors. My only point is that how they got to be pros is important to me. That they win prize money, or pro contracts is all fine and good. I am glad for them, as more reward is good for us all. It means more opportunity to see more races, more incentive for hardworking but disadvantaged athletes to dream and compete, and fairly, for companies (like the Prophet’s) to see opportunity to bring us great products for our own use. But I want to see competition, and fairness is important to me. Money corrupts everything. That the money comes in as a reward for succeeding in a fair competition is a different issue. To me. My. Opinion. Only.

    To paraphrase another, “I like sport. I’m friends with some guys that own some expensive teams.”

  39. @Buck Rogers
    It took me about 1000 hours to figure it out for you…

    @eightzero
    Fundamentally continue to not understand what you’re after. She didn’t buy her way into a contract, she started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract and is now fighting it out with the likes of Vos who started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract.

    But it doesn’t matter, I’ve been known to have the odd flawed opinion on why to dis/like a rider, and thats the beauty of Sport, we get to like who we want for whatever reasons. And I’m also with you on being after the underdog. Its just in this case I’ve got no idea what you’re on about.

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