2023 La Vuelta Femenina – Stage Four Race Report

How the race finished

Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) took her second victory, winning the sprint from a reduced bunch after Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) attacked into the finishing straight. Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) was second, while Reusser held on for third.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

After yesterday’s tough wind-affected stage, the women’s peloton approached the stage four route from Cuenca to Guadalajara with some exhaustion and nervousness. Teams were keen to stay safe and look for opportunities before they head into the mountains in the coming days. With some wind on course once again, it was a day of counter attacks, as near constant attempts to get clear peppered the latter part of the race.

After the roll out from Cuenca, a group of fourteen riders formed at the front, but the peloton were not happy to let them clear. Despite a high pace, the attacking continued. A crash involving dozens of riders slowed proceedings, as both the leader Marianne Vos and Annemiek van Vleuten made their way back to the front. 

At kilometre 40, Patricia Ortega (Massi-Tactic) and Maryna Varenyk (Eneicat-CMTeam) attacked, building a slender lead. Behind them, yet another crash hampered the chase. This time, Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) was affected, and a number of general classification riders found themselves in the second bunch. As the peloton regrouped Anna Kiesenhofer (Israel Premier Tech Roland) and Tota Magalhaes (Bizkaia-Durango) joined the pair up front, finally forming a breakaway that stuck.  

The peloton found a moment to relax, and the break edged out to over three minutes in the lead. As they hit the first foothills of the day, Varenyk dropped back to the bunch. On the descent, the remaining trio split up further, with Kiesenhofer falling off the pace. As they hit the next climb, Magalhaes powered on in the lead alone. Andrea Alzate launched out of the peloton, who were around a minute behind the leaders, and quickly connected with Kiesenhofer on the climb. Together, they came back to Magalhaes. With 40 kilometres remaining, the trio held a slender 30 second gap.

The climbers in the peloton appeared keen to stretch the legs, with first Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) and then Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//Sram Racing) attacking. With the peloton lined out, over the crest, Chloe Dygert (Canyon//Sram Racing) tried to go solo. Her move was quickly countered by Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma), but already some of the big cards of the day were on display.

As the road rolled downwards, Georgia Williams (EF Education-Tibco-SBV) put in a strong acceleration, and was followed by Aranza Villalon (Eneicat-CMTeam). The pair quickly established a lead of around 20 seconds. Coming into the only intermediate sprint of the day SD Worx drove the peloton. With the duo up the road claiming the major bonifications, Vos took third across the line with Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) and Dygert (Canyon//Sram Racing) on her wheel, extending her lead in both the General and points classifications.

In the every changing race situation, the attacks did not let up. Next, Silke Smulders (Liv Racing-TeqFind), Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//Sram Racing)  and Sigrid Ytterhus Haugset (Coop-Hitec) bridged across to the pair at the front of the race. The five riders were caught shortly after, as the peloton prepared for the only categorised climb of the day, the Alto de Horche. 

Femke Markus (SD Worx) took off as soon as the gradients began to rise, but behind her the peloton also settled into a quick tempo, and she was soon brought back. Movistar took it up on the front, driving a hard pace to try to set something up for their climbers. Vollering came through for a turn, before Mavi Garcia increased the pace yet again. With the bunch completely strung out, both Vos and Dygert could be seen struggling to stay with the front of the race. Over the top, the pace went out a little, and Elise Chabbey rolled through to take the maximum points in the hunt for the Queen of the Mountains Jersey.

They had barely passed the summit when Van Vleuten launched a searing attack, but Vollering was right on the wheel. The two had a gap, but Vollering was not keen to work with Van Vleuten. Garcia came across to the duo, but soon enough they were once again reabsorbed into the now much reduced peloton. Lippert attacked over the top, this time with Niamh Fisher-Black, Elise Chabbey and Amber Kraak in the wheel. Once again they established a gap, but didn’t work together to keep it away.

Inside ten kilometres to go, the peloton was only around twenty riders. Finding a small rise, Lippert attacked again, this time with Ricarda Bauernfiend (Canyon//Sram Racing) desperately trying to hold her wheel. Bauernfiend couldn’t make it stick, but Vollering bridged across Lippert. The pair pushed on through the fast descent, but couldn’t cooperate as the road flattened out. When the bunch led by UAE Team ADQ and Canyon//Sram Racing brought them back, Chloé Dygert counter-attacked once again. Once again the peloton were wise to her move, with Riejanne Markus among those who were quick to follow.

Marlen Reusser spotted an opportunity in the final kilometer, launching out of a roundabout and up the outside. She held a big gap for a long time, but Chloé Dygert slowly edged it back, until they were close enough for Marianne Vos, who had enjoyed the lead out, to launch her sprint. Emma Norsgaard came through for second and, after a long effort, Reusser held on for third. 

Full Stage Four Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Photography: Rafa Gómez, Unipulic/SprintCyclingAgency

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