CYCLING Preview: Sprint double-header on tap in Plouay

The annual sprint races in Plouay (FRA) are tap for Friday and Saturday, with the 125.5 km women’s race on Saturday and the men’s 256.9 km race on Sunday.

Both are on courses that have hills, but no serious climbs and a mostly downhill final kilometer, so this should be a good weekend for the sprinters.

In the women’s race, the Grand Prix de Plouay, the main combatants are expected to include the seven former medalists:

∙ Marianne Vos (NED) ~ winner in 2012-13, second in 2009-10-14, third in 2011
∙ Eugenia Bujak (SLO) ~ winner in 2016
∙ Elena Cecchini (ITA) ~ second in 2016
∙ Tiffany Cromwell (AUS) ~ second in 2012
∙ Sarah Roy (AUS) ~ third in 2017
∙ Anna van der Breggen (NED) ~ third in 2013
∙ Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) ~ third in 2012

The UCI Women’s World Tour standings have been turned inside out by Vos, 31, who took over the seasonal lead from countrywoman van der Breggen with wins at Postnord Vargarda and in the Ladies Tour of Norway.

Vos now has a tight 1,244.88-1,160.33 lead with four events to go, with Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) third at 1,105.86.

But there are lots of other contenders in an all-star field, including American sprinter Coryn Rivera and 2016 Women’s World Tour winner Megan Guarnier, Dutch stars Chantal Blaak and Amy Pieters, Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma, Australians Amanda Spratt and Chloe Hosking, South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman and Finland’s Lotta Lepisto. All have won medals in Women’s World Tour races this season.

The men’s race, the Bretagne Classic-Ouest-France, comes on Sunday and includes six prior champions in the field, plus six other medal winners:

∙ Alexander Kristoff (NOR) ~ winner in 2015, second in 2017, third in 2016
∙ Simon Gerrans (AUS) ~ winner in 2009
∙ Filippo Pozzato (ITA) ~ winner in 2013
∙ Grega Bole (SLO) ~ winner in 2011
∙ Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) ~ winner in 2012
∙ Oliver Naesen (BEL) ~ winner in 2016
∙ Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) ~ third in 2013
∙ Yoann Offredo (FRA) ~ third in 2010
∙ Rui Costa (POR) ~ second in 2012
∙ Alberto Bettiol (ITA) ~ second in 2016
∙ Arthur Vichot (FRA) ~ third in 2014
∙ Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) ~ third in 2017

Kristoff will be trying for a fourth consecutive medal in the race and has to be the favorite. If the race comes down to a mass sprint at the end, Germans John Degenkolb and Niklas Arndt will likely be in the mix.

Look for results from both races here.