The first episode of The Run Up gave us a previously unseen look at some of the best riders in the women’s peloton. Beginning with Anna van der Breggen’s historic seventh win on the Mur de Huy, it took us on a journey through Ardennes week to the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège where van der Breggen’s teammate, Demi Vollering, took the first WorldTour win of her career.
The Run Up has announced that episode two will be released on Friday 25th June. It will give us an insight into the preparation for La Course, one of the biggest one-day events on the calendar, following Trek-Segafredo and the Liv Racing WorldTeam.
The addition of Liv Racing, one of the smaller teams in the women’s WorldTour, is going to make for an especially interesting watch. There are riders on the team who have had some impressive results this season, but who tend to fly under the radar. Pauliena Rooijakkers is one example, she finished 4th in stage 4 at Vuelta Burgos but isn’t often mentioned as a pre-race favourite. “I'm thrilled fans can join us along our journey to La Course and see all of the hard work and determination it takes to race at this level,” she explained. Newly crowned Belgian Champion Lotte Kopecky will likely also feature, a rider who has recently signed for SD Worx for 2022.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Luc Claessen
French rider for Trek Segafredo, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, explained the importance of La Course for her personally: “It takes on special meaning for me. It will be raced in Bretagne, my land, my home, my heart, among my people. Racing on my roads gives me a unique strength and it was great to be part of this episode, showing my preparation for such an important event of my season."
As well as breathtaking overhead shots of the scenic Flemish Ardennes, episode one of The Run Up gave us a real picture of the raw emotion that comes from a big win. Celebrations at the team buses and embraces between riders highlighted the camaraderie of each team.
For example, Van der Breggen’s speech at the SD Worx dinner table after her win showed her thanking her staff and mechanics as well as her teammates, while Trek Segafredo rider Elisa Longo Borghini was shown telling Lucinda Brand that her medal was “ours'', emphasising the importance of teamwork. While we saw the elation of the winners, there were also lows for some riders. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio discussed the two crashes she’d had in the race, showing vulnerability and disappointment that we don’t get to see in the victor's post-race press conferences.
The episode then followed the teams through their three days preparing for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of the hardest races on the calendar with its steep climbs and tough distance. Interviews with riders were dispersed throughout the show, giving us a view of each athlete’s personality, which can often be hidden behind Oakleys or face masks.
Photo credit: Alex Whitehead/
One of the most interesting takeaways from the first episode was the relationship between Van der Breggen and her teammate, Demi Vollering. Van der Breggen spoke about seeing a “fire” in Vollering, and explained how the young rider had made the decision to chase down the breakaway at Fleche Wallonne to set the world champion up for her seventh win. Van der Breggen explained that she didn’t agree with the decision at first, but Vollering’s ability to assert her opinion was an impressive trait.
As well as interviews with riders, team managers of Trek-Segafredo and SD Worx (Ina Teutenberg and Danny Stam) featured in the episode. They contributed to a wider discussion on women’s cycling as they shared their thoughts on the problems with the current WorldTour calendar. Teutenberg argued for more stage races at the start of the season, whilst Stam explained that he had seen unprecedented growth in the strength in depth of the women’s peloton over recent years.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Tayler Wiles (Trek Segafredo) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon SRAM) were interviewed as super-domestiques, discussing the role they play in the team. These are riders who are often unheard of, but they explained their crucial job, despite this hard work perhaps not showing on the final result sheet.
Clips from the team's recon rides and their pre-race routines provided a unique look at each rider's preparation for big events. Wiles explained that her team leader, Elisa Longo Borghini, can often be seen wearing her helmet up to an hour before the race starts, with the Italian champion always keen to be focussed and extremely prepared on the day of an important event.
Vollering spoke about her hope to win a race that season, something she went on to do in Liège a few days later. After watching Vollering’s preparation for the race and hearing her thoughts in The Run Up, her victory held even more meaning for those of us watching at home.
Jose Been’s supremely knowledgeable commentary was the perfect accompaniment to what was a fascinating first episode, and we don’t expect episode two to be any different.The Run Up, episode two, will be released here on the 25th July