2024 La Vuelta Femenina – Stage Four Race Report

How the race finished

Kristen Faulkner (EF Education Cannondale) took a flyer to secure the win, after a day of cross winds saw a select group stay clear of the peloton. Georgia Baker (Liv AlUla Jayco) and Marianne Vos (Visma | Lease a Bike) were fastest of the chasers behind. Marianne Vos takes over as GC leader, ahead of Blanka Vas (SD Worx Protime) and Kristen Faulkner.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

Despite being the longest day at 142.3km, the fourth stage of La Vuelta Femenina looked relatively benign on paper – a long, leisurely roll down from Molina de Aragón to Zaragoza. But the real challenge of the stage lay in the possibility of crosswinds throughout the day, meaning there would be little chance to relax.

With this in mind, the stage started quietly, with no immediate attacks. The first attack of the day came at around 12 kilometres in, as Idoia Eraso (Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi) and Nora Jencusova (Bepink-Bongianni) went clear and built a slender lead. Unable to keep the pace of Jencusova, Eraso went backwards as Valerie Demey (Volkerwessels) counterattacked, but shortly after, all three were swallowed up by the peloton.

The first effects of the wind were felt just minutes later, as the peloton picked up the pace and then split into several groups. The red jersey, still on the back of Blanka Vas (SD Worx Protime) was still visible surrounded by teammates in the front group, which now numbered only around twenty riders. In the second group, already trailing by thirty seconds, GC contenders including Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek), Mavi Garcia (Liv AlUla Jayco) and Liane Lippert (Movistar) found themselves in trouble. Within a few kilometres, the gap was almost two minutes.

At around 50 km into the race the second and third groups on the road merged, and with their combined firepower were able to begin clawing their way back to the front of the race. SD Worx Protime continued to control things up the road, keeping the chasers stuck at around 1 minute in arrears. FDJ-Suez and Lidl-Trek, both of whom had GC contenders in the second group, led the chase.

The gap held through the middle of the stage, until around 60km to go, when the chasing group pulled the leaders back into sight on a gentle uncategorised climb. Just when it seemed possible for those in the chasing group to jump across, the pace went out, and by 50 kilometres to go the gap had gone back out to over a minute again. An unfortunate mechanical spelled the end of her time at the front for Elena Cecchini (SD Worx Protime), but her teammates still had the overwhelming numbers in the front.

With the wind not giving them a break, at 41km to go Blanka Vas, the race leader, couldn’t keep the pace, and went backwards from the leading group. Luckily for her, she was able to use the cars to hold her position and navigate back to the front. The intermediate sprint came with only 12 kilometres to the finish, with the leading bunch on the road contesting it. Marianne Vos (Visma | Lease a Bike) took the 6 bonus seconds on offer, with Blanka Vas picking up 4 and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl Trek) taking the final 2 seconds. 

Mischa Bredeworld (SD Work Protime) used a small rise to attack with about 6km to go, with Demi Vollering going over the top as she was caught. Kristen Faulkner (EF Education Cannondale) was the next to attack, with Marlen Reusser (SD Worx Protime) initially on her wheel but being dropped as the road pitched up. Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl Trek) tried to close the gap, bringing Vollering and Vas (SD Worx Protime), and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) with her. Faulkner powered on ahead, while the two Visma | Lease a Bike riders rallied to try to bring the stage win back within touching distance. 

The chasers all came back together, but even after the turn into the block headwind at 1.4km to go, there was no bringing Faulkner back. She sailed away to take the stage win by ten seconds. Georgia Baker (Liv AlUla Jayco) was fastest of the sprinters behind, with Vos finishing third, just edging out Blanka Vas for the third podium spot.


Full Stage Four Results

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

Photography ©️ Unipublic/CXCLING

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