How the Race Finished
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) made it three for three at Itzulia Women, winning all three stages and the general classification. On the final stage, after SD Worx had been softening up the reduced group with attacks, she attacked at the top of the final climb and then flew solo down the descent, winning the stage by fifteen seconds over Liane Lippert (Team DSM) in second, and Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in third. With Vollering having secured an imposing lead in the first stage, the top three in the general classification didn’t shift from the podium of the first stage, with Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//SRAM Racing) in second, 47 seconds behind Vollering, and Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) in third, 1’07” behind.
The Main Action
After a hectic start, the first breakaway to succeed was the duo of Marit Raaijamkers (Human Powered Health) and Giorgi Bariani (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo). They were chased down by Margaux Vigie (Valcar – Travel & Service), Morgane Coston (Arkea-Samsic), Naia Amondarain (Sopela Women’s Team). Although it was initially a struggle to establish the break, with 80km to go, the five had a lead of over five minutes. Stuck at a minute and a half behind the leaders, Lija Laizane (Eneicat – RBH Global) & Marta Jaskulska (Liv Xstra) were trying to chase them down.
At 57km to go, the biggest climb of the day, Jaizkibel, began, and on the ascent, the breakaway fell apart. Coston went solo, with the others gradually falling back to the encroaching peloton. As the group approached, attacks started to fly; SD Worx, despite having a mere four riders, chose to ride offensively, instead of simply defending the yellow jersey.
With 34km to go, Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing) started to bridge across to Coston; she was followed by Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo). They caught Coston with just under twenty kilometres to go, when the three of them had 1’30” on the peloton. The upcoming climb, however, would make that gap difficult to maintain.
The final climb was the Murgil-Tontorra, with extremely steep upper slopes – a maximum gradient of 19%. With the pace high, the peloton was quickly whittled down. At the head of the race, van Anrooij dropped first Korevaar, then Coston, clinging on to her lead. In the now-select group with race-leader Vollering, which was quickly gaining on van Anrooij, Vollering’s teammate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio was launching attacks, forcing Pauliena Rooijakkers, second in the general classification, to close them down. Van Anrooij was finally caught 250m from the summit, and in the final 100m, Vollering made her attack, setting a pace that no-one else could match and opening up a gap.
She followed this up with a rapid solo descent, consolidating her lead, and came to the finish line with fifteen seconds to spare. Behind her, Rooijakkers became briefly detached from the leading group on the descent, but managed to claw her way back to defend her podium position.
Vollering has dominated the race, with three stage wins and a comfortable lead in the general classification. As for the other jerseys, after competing fiercely for points yesterday, Elise Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM Racing) had the Queen of the Mountains jersey stitched up. Vollering also won the points jersey, and her teammate Niamh-Fisher Black won the youth classification – with their other teammate, Anna Shackley, in second. Team DSM, however, knocked SD Worx off the top-spot in the team classification; they had three riders in the top ten of the general classification, with Juliette Labous in fifth, Liane Lippert in sixth, and Floortje Mackaij in eighth.