Rally Cycling is on the verge of an epic quartet of races that will see the men's and women's rosters reunited on the start-line of a bike race for the first time since 2019.
From race cancellations and last-minute flights our of Europe, to the protracted process of getting back into Europe last month with Hail Mary calls to international embassies, and the negotiation of lengthy quarantines, it has been one heck of a journey to get to this point.
Thanks to the long days behind-the-scenes by operations staff and the personal sacrifices of the riders themselves, it's a proud day for the organization to be lining up with both programs at the GB Isbergues on September 20.
We'll also be seeing the men in action at the two-day Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho in Portugal and France's iconic semi-classic Paris-Camembert. The ladies will take on the Belgian climber's one-day Torphée des Gempeuses to round things off.
Performance Director Patrick McCarty said, "To be lining the men's and women's roster up alongside each other represents another milestone on our journey back to normalcy. We couldn't be more excited."
September 19&20 - Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho
Two bumpy days in the hills north of Lisbon, Portugal should make for hot and hectic racing. Both stages see the peloton on twisting, winding roads and while none of the climbs are over two kilometers long, the multitude of little laps and double-backs on the courses means there is never a moment of flat or straight. Unpredictable racing at its finest.
September 19 - Trophée des Grimpeuses
The name roughly translates as 'trophy of the female climbers', so you know it's going to be a hilly one-dayer. This Belgian women's race takes place on the French border in the famous Ardennes forest, with 3,600 m of climbing packed into 106 km. It starts and ends in Vressee-sur-Semois.
September 20 - GP Isbergues
The men's and women's rosters are finally reunited at the same race and finding some awesome form, so will be hoping to produce a double result. The men have 201 km to complete, while the women's race is 117 km. Both courses start and finish in the northern French town of Isbergues, about 50 miles from Rouibaix.
September 22 - Paris-Camembert
One of the oldest bike races in the world, first run as 'Paris-Vimoutiers' in 1906 when it was won by a guy named simply 'Mary' - no, honestly. The Butte des Vendits climb is covered twice, the second time with just 9 kilometres remaining. It is 1.2 km at 8% and should prove decisive in the race.
Leigh Ann Ganzar
September 19 to September 20
Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho
Torphée des Grimpeuses