Four-time UCI Women’s WorldTour winner Megan Guarnier was crowned overall winner of the inaugural series in Madrid on Sunday. The 31-year-old pulled on the distinctive white leader’s jersey following her general classification win at the Amgen Tour of California in May and remained atop the overall classification until the 17-round series came to a close in September.
“At Boels-Dolmans, we take each race as it comes and try to achieve the best result we possibly can at every race,” said Guarnier. “Whether that’s me or my teammates, the priority is that the team is on top. It’s been an accumulation of us consistently winning or landing on the podium that has put me in this position.”
The UCI Women’s WorldTour was introduced this season, replacing the UCI World Cup series. Lizzie Armitstead twice won the World Cup overall, back-to-back in 2014-2015. Guarnier’s 2016 UCI Women’s WorldTour win demonstrates Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s continued dominance throughout the entire season at the highest level of the sport.
“Our success over the last three years is a direct result of the focus on team,” said Guarnier. “It’s seems counter-intuitive to say that when we’re talking about an individual rider’s win, but it’s true. Every rider brings what she has to the table, and we’re able to maximise our abilities and play off each other’s strength.”
“I’ve thrived with this approach,” said Guarnier. “It allows me to race on instinct instead of over-thinking everything. I know my teammates share my goals. I know how they will race. I know how they can contribute and how they can win.”
Guarnier recorded UCI Women’s WorldTour wins at the Amgen Tour of California, the Philly Cycling Classic and the Giro Rosa, but she was not Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s winningest WorldTour rider. That accolade belongs to Armitstead who recorded five wins, including three one-day races, one stage win and one stage race overall.
Evie Stevens took three WorldTour wins at the Giro Rosa. Chantal Blaak won two WorldTour spring classics. Christine Majerus sprinted to victory on the opening stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team won the only stand-alone team time trial in the series.
Armitstead was the first-wearer of the UCI Women’s WorldTour jersey and Guarnier took the jersey from Blaak in California.
“At one point, me, Chantal and Lizzie were one-two-three in the series,” said Guarnier. “The number of wins we had in the WorldTour speaks to our strength as a team. I’m the one who ended up with the jersey at the end, but it really could have been a number of my teammates. This jersey belongs to all of them.”
In a series that rewards consistency, Guarnier demonstrated her worth over a variety of terrains. She excelled in the one-day sprint classics and the longest women’s stage race on the calendar. She won uphill battles to the line and small group sprints. She was part of a team time trial ride good for second place that kept her in the Amgen Tour of California overall lead.
“It’s an entire season of racing, and you have to be good at the beginning, the middle and the end,” Guarnier said. “It’s not only the length of the season that’s a challenge but the breadth of the terrain we see. It’s being able to race in all the races and place well in those races. It’s about adapting to all sorts of situations and race scenarios. You contend with fatigue, maybe illness or injury, and you race through or you recover and come back stronger. The UCI Women’s WorldTour requires consistency.”
Guarnier is the first American – man or women – to win the UCI’s highest ranked series. It’s a source of pride for her to lead the way.
“It’s an honour to be the first American, and I think that it’s taken this long speaks to the challenges Americans face when racing in Europe,” she said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of risk. There isn’t a clear path, at least there wasn’t for me, and it’s a lot of trial and error and patience – lots of patience.”
“It’s taken my village back home and my team here in Europe believing in me to accomplish something like this,” Guarnier added. “Riding for Boels-Dolmans these last three seasons is a huge contributor to my success.”