Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta 2022:Stage 1 Report

2022 Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta

Stage 1 – Team time trial

How the race finished

Trek-Segafredo won the first stage of the new Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, completing the 20km Team Time Trial circuit in 23 minutes 31 seconds, ahead of Team Bike-Exchange Jayco (+6”) and FDJ Suez Futuroscope (+11”). Team SD Worx and Movistar Team Women, home of defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten, finished in fourth and fifth places, at 23” and 25” down respectively. Elisa Longo-Borghini will wear the leader’s jersey after crossing the line first.

How it happened

The 2022 Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta took place in Marina de Cudeyo in Cantabria, Spain, with teams facing a loop of just under 20km. Despite being almost completely flat, the course was still fairly technical in nature, with some breezy sections along the open coastline and a small rise to the finish line testing teams all the way to the end.

In good early evening conditions, Biskaia Durango and Massi Tactic showed themselves to be best drilled of the early starting Spanish squads. Halfway through proceedings things kicked off as the Women’s World Tour teams hit the start ramp, with Uno-X Pro Cycling Team being first to set a strong time across the finish line, after looking very organised as a squad throughout their ride. They weren’t in the hotseat for long, as Ceratizit WNT Pro-Cyling put in a strong performance to take the provisional lead, with Valcar-Travel & Service finishing just shy of their time. The difference between the teams that were riding well as a unit, versus those with more mis-matched rider ability, was evident as teams came across the finish line as one, or more often with a fourth rider desperately trying to retain contact, knowing their time across the line would count for the whole team.

Fourteenth off the start ramp, with seven teams to follow them, Team Bikeexchange-Jayco continued their run of impressive TT performances this year, blowing the early times out of the water as they came in more than a minute faster than the previous fastest teams. With a new benchmark set, the teams looking after their major GC contenders battled it out on course. Team DSM put in a solid ride to come in a provisional second place, with Bike Exchange still holding a large lead. Canyon//Sram Racing followed outside that time again, with UAE Team Emirates finishing a further half a minute adrift, behind early leaders Ceratizit WNT Pro-Cycling.

Despite being down to four riders quite early, Trek-Segafredo powered across the line to push BikeExchange off the hot seat by 6 seconds. FDJ Suez-Futuroscope weren’t far off the mark either, finishing 11 seconds behind Trek-Segafredo. For the two final teams to take the startline for the evening, with GC hopefuls Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten, there was only two seconds separating them on the line – though neither team could come close to the time set by Trek-Segafredo, who were crowned the winners.

With possibly a stronger than anticipated team performance from Movistar, Annemiek van Vleuten will be happy with her position going into tomorrow’s difficult stage, hoping to regain the time and probably take some more on the hills. For those who lost significant time, including Mavi Garcia and Kasia Niewiadoma, an attacking spirit will be key to how the race plays out over the next few days.

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