Justine Ghekiere has won the overall classification of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. In a breathtaking final, the Belgian rider stayed clear with Elise Uijen of DSM before a sprint for the finish line saw Uijen take the stage and Ghekiere claim the G.C win.
It had been a steady start to the final stage before the elastic eventually snapped and a large group of sixteen went clear. Showing the same strong legs that were on display the previous day, Uijen rode maturely and with a level head beyond her years, saving her energy wisely until the perfect moment. After a front trio made it over the top of the last climb, Uijen used her descending skills to distance one rider and set up a two-rider sprint for the win. Leading from the front and powering all the way to the line, Uijen raised her hand to her head in disbelief as she crossed the line in first place. It was her first pro win and her first for Team DSM.
Ghekiere took six bonus seconds and needed the peloton to finish at fifteen seconds to win the overall classification.
Incredibly, the peloton crossed the line at a nail-biting sixteen seconds, meaning Justine claimed her first pro win at the prestigious four-day stage race in Spain, the previous two editions of which were won by Annemiek van Vleuten. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio finished seventh on the day to claim second in the general classification. It was a surprising but amazing outcome after four days of racing.
“I just don’t know what to say. I have no words and don’t really realize what happened,” said a stunned Justine after the finish. “I wanted to go for that polka dot jersey and was only second behind the leader in that classification. It was all or nothing today and I succeeded in my goal. Then I found myself in that breakaway and held on to Gaia Realini and Elise Uijen on the final climb. It’s a shame I didn’t win that sprint for the stage win, but by then I knew I had won the mountain classification. I was already really happy about that until I realized I had won the general classification too. This team is fantastic and I feel so good. Everyone believes in each other and works for each other. It was not great I took the win away from Ashleigh, but we keep it in the team. We did it!”