2023 La Vuelta Femenina – Stage Five Race Report

How the race finished

Demi Vollering (SD Worx) claimed victory atop the first summit finish, ahead of Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon//Sram Racing). Vollering also moved into the red leader’s jersey. 

Full results are available below.

How it happened

The peloton rolled out from the tiny town of La Cabrera, preparing themselves for what would be the first summit finish of La Vuelta Femenina. As we have seen on previous days, it took a long time for a break to form, with the peloton still grouped together some 25km into the race.

Finally, an attack by Susana Perez drew a group of six riders clear. Working alongside Perez, Sara Poidevin (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Quinty Ton (Liv Racing – TeqFind), Simone Boilard (St Michel – Mavic – Auber93), Isabel Martin (Eneicat – CM Team) and Adele Normand (Massi – Tactic) managed to slowly establish a small lead. As they hit the lower slopes of the category one climb, the group began to disintegrate, and by 45km into the race, the remaining four riders held only a slender 20 second lead.

Their advantage dissolved quickly on the climb, with FDJ-Suez riding a hard tempo to sweep them up. In the peloton, a number of riders struggled to maintain the pace. The bunch was soon reduced to around 25 riders. Partway up the climb, red jersey wearer Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) was dropped, and Lianne Lippert (Movistar) also found herself in trouble. Closer to the summit, Kasia Niewiadoma and Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//Sram Racing), Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ), Urska Zigart (Jayco-AlUla) and Elise Uijen (Team DSM) also found themselves in trouble. Mountains Jersey leader Elise Chabbey once again took the QOM points on offer at the top of the climb.

Over the summit of Puerto de Navafría and into the descent, the front group held over a minute on the Niewiadoma group, and over three minutes on Vos. Niewiadoma’s teammate Chloé Dygert, still in the front group, became the virtual leader on the road. The front group split slightly through the descent, but were able to regroup shortly after. It was a question of reassessing motivations, as they looked at each other an no one took up the lead. After fifteen minutes of chasing, Niewiadoma’s group was able to reconnect with the front. 

In the larger group that has assembled around Marianne Vos behind, Movistar took responsibility for the chase – perhaps looking to bring Liane Lippert back into a position to support their leader Annemiek van Vleuten, who was isolated up front. In the lead group, UAE Team ADQ, SD Worx, Trek-Segafredo and Team DSM shared the work, but the pace remained steady. 

An innocuous crash in the lead bunch brought down Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) and Ane Santesteban (Jayco AlUla). Santesteban was quick to remount and able to find her way back through the cars to the front, but Fisher-Black needed a bike change. Once she had begun her chase back on, the race organisers pulled all the cars out – leaving her with a significant gap to close alone. After battling hard, eventually she sat up and, full of frustration at the situation, dropped back to the chasing group. 

Around a minute and a half in arrears, the bunch was led still led by Movistar, and now SD Worx slotted in to help with the chase. Up front, Canyon//Sram Racing set Chloé Dygert to work, despite her being their highest placed rider and holding the virtual lead. Team DSM were also committed to keeping the group away. With EF-Education-Tibco-SVB starting to contribute to the chase as well, the gap started to fall away. With 15km left to race, it had dropped under one minute.

The intermediate sprint came with only 10 kilometres of racing remaining. Reijanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) won, with the bonification seconds propelling her into the virtual GC lead ahead of Dygert who had rolled through in second. A few kilometres later, they were starting the climb to Mirador de Penãs Llanas – with just 30 seconds advantage over the chasing bunch.

Esmée Peperkamp (Team DSM) and Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) lit it up at the bottom of the climb, but were brought back quickly. Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) came to the front and set a steady tempo. For a few moments everyone looked quite comfortable, and then, without changing her expression at all, Realini rode a little faster, then a little faster still. Persico was the first rider who couldn’t hold the pace, but soon Faulker (Jayco AlUla), Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) and Adegeest (FDJ-Suez) were also dropped. So it continued, with riders slowly reaching their individual limits. Chloé Dygert tried to stay with the group for as long as possible, but eventually even she had to relent. 

With around two kilometres remaining, Vollering accelerated to take over from Realini on the front. With this increase in pace, some of the top climbers in the peloton began to struggle. Mavi Garcia (Liv Racing TeqFind) and Amanda Spratt (Trek-Segafredo) both found themselves distanced.

Into the final kilometre only four riders remained at the front of the race – Vollering and van Vleuten alongside young climbers Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon//Sram Racing) and Evita Muzic (FDJ-Suez). As the road pitched up again around a bend, van Vleuten got out of the saddle and launched an attack. Vollering closed the gap with Bauernfeind in her wheel, then came around her. Staying seating, Vollering continued to accelerate, and slowly inched away from the pair, holding her pace until she could raise her arms across the line. 

 

Full Stage Five Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Photography: Rafa Gómez, Unipulic/SprintCyclingAgency

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