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The UCI Women’s WorldTour continues on Sunday with the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. With eight of the WorldTour’s 17 rounds in the books, American Megan Guarnier leads the series ahead of Swedish rider Emma Johansson, with Brit Lizzie Armitstead in third.
Guarnier’s Boels—Dolmans squad holds a commanding lead in the series’ team competition, having won six of eight races. The duo of Armitestead and Dutch rider Chantal Blaak won the opening five races of the series, with American Megan Guarnier winning the Amgen Tour of California.
In the lead up to the season, the inaugural WorldTour was touted as a solution to women’s cycling’s decades-old problems with scheduling, promotion, and race quality. Opinions on the series have been mixed, with some riders expressing a generally positive sentiment, and others maintaining a “wait and see” attitude toward the WorldTour’s savoir status.
“I still have yet to make a complete judgment,” Armitstead to VeloNews. “There are some improvements, but there is still a long way to go. It’s not the answer to everything.”
Other riders and team staff told VeloNews.com that the series has boosted the overall competition at events such as the Amgen Tour of California. It has eliminated previous problems with scheduling conflicts, and provided teams and sponsors a clear set of races to target. And the series has created a more balanced schedule with the addition of stage races. Previously, the UCI Women’s World Cup only included one-day races.
“With the old World Cup being comprised of one-day races, the stage racers were left out,” said Rachel Heal, director of Team UnitedHealthCare. “Now you have a more complete picture of women’s racing.”
The Philadelphia race is the seventh one-day race to be featured on the calendar.
Defending champion Armitstead will not be at Philadelphia this year, however her Boels—Dolmans squad comes in with numerous cards to play. Blaak sits fourth in the WorldTour rankings, having won the March 12 Ronde van Drenthe and March 27 Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields races. Guarnier, who won the U.S. women’s national championship on DATE, is another card to play. Boels—Dolmans’ best chance at victory could be American Evelyn Stevens, who won the Philadelphia race in 2013 and 2014.
The sport’s other powerhouse team Wiggle High5 will look to set up sprinter Elisa Longo Borghini or climber Mara Abbott. Canyon-SRAM comes into the race with Australian Tiffany Cromwell leading the squad. UnitedHealthCare’s sprinter Coryn Rivera will also be one to watch.
UCI Women’s WorldTour Individual Rankings (after 8 of 17 rounds)
- Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels—Dolmans, 504 points
- Emma Johansson (Swe), Wiggle High5, 398
- Lizzie Armitstead (GB), Boels—Dolmans, 368
- Chantal Blaak (Nl), Boels—Dolmans, 349
- Anna van der Breggen (Nl), Rabobank—Liv, 300