Young Team Conquers Tour

CANYON//SRAM Racing finished La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es in stunning style, with Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermaier climbing to fifth and eighth place on the queen stage. The dynamic duo scaled the general classification ranking to sixth and eleventh, respectively. Niedermaier finished her longest-ever stage race, winning the Best Young Rider overall award, more than ten minutes ahead of her nearest rival.

The team started the eight-day race with five instead of seven riders due to illness and faced another challenge mid-tour when Kasia Niewiadoma was also forced to withdraw due to illness. Following stage five, the team had just four young riders remaining —Bäckstedt (19 years old), Bauernfeind (24 years old), Niedermaier (21 years old) and Van der Duin (22 years old). Bäckstedt and Niedermaier were entering new territory as they had never raced an eight-day tour. The young team banded together, bringing new general classification leaders, Bauernfeind and Niedermaier, into contention.

The pace was hot on the final stage from Madrid to the Valdesquí summit finish, with 2255m of elevation in a mere 89km. Bäckstedt and Van der Duin positioned their teammates into the first of two category-one climbs after fifty kilometres of racing. The Puerto de La Morcuera gruelling test saw a select group lead the race, swiftly sweeping up any remaining breakaway riders. After nine kilometres of climbing at an average of just under 7%, fifteen riders remained in the lead.

CANYON//SRAM Racing was strongly represented, with climbing stars Bauernfeind and Niedermaier performing superbly. On the descent, Bauernfeind chose her own pace and lines, and though she established a small gap, she said it was not a deliberate attempt to break away. As the leading group came back together, one solo rider led the race into the final climb to the Valdesqui ski station. The pace set first by FDJ-Suez reduced the group to even fewer riders before Niedermaier took over at the front to pace for her teammate. 

When race leader and eventual winner Demi Vollering (SDW) attacked, the leading group splintered, distancing several riders while Bauernfeind held firm for another kilometre as the gradient hit 10%. When Niedermaier rejoined the leaders, she again went to the work of her teammate, the two German riders stamping their authority as a formidable duo.

Crossing the line in fifth place, her fourth top-ten finish on a stage, Bauernfeind moved from ninth to sixth overall. Niedermaier was just outside the GC top ten in eleventh place. She won the Best Young Rider award in four stages, including the overall, with a phenomenal ten-minute gap to the next young rider.

RIDER REACTIONS

Ricarda Bauernfeind: “Ten days ago, we imagined the tour differently. We had a super strong team, but struggled with many cases of illness, so we could only start with five riders. However, we tried to work together as a team and were able to achieve really good individual results. By the halfway point, we were down to just four riders and a very young team, but being only four made us stronger because we knew we had to work together even more. My teammates supported me so much every day. I even managed to join the first group on yesterday’s stage with the crosswinds, and today, we worked together as a team until the very end.

Today’s stage was once again very tough, but I fought until the last metre. I wanted to finish the overall classification as well as possible for the team. I am incredibly proud of the entire team and of each teammate. Antonia’s achievement of being the best young rider and improving her overall ranking makes me proud. This week has made us so much stronger as a team. Everyone had good and bad days, but we made it together, and everyone was there for each other.

Last year, I finished fifth on GC. This year, I was sick at the beginning of the race, but I still managed to finish in sixth place overall. I hadn’t expected that, so I am even happier with the result and four top-ten stage finishes. However, sixth place was only possible with the team and the preparations of the entire team. This week has again emphasised how important each person in the team is.”

Antonia Niedermaier: “It was a challenging final stage. The main goal was to put Ricarda in a good position for her GC place. Maike and Zoe helped us in the beginning. Ricarda and I could do the first climb well, and with the high pace, only a small group was left. When Vollering attacked on the last climb, Ricarda went with it. I’m proud of how she raced and fought to the end. I saw she was dropping at one point, and I was coming back, so when I reached her, I went in front again to help pace and encourage her. We’re very happy with the stage.

It’s also nice to get the Best Young Rider award. It means a lot in the longest stage race I’ve done. I’m really proud of the whole team and everyone’s performance.”

Zoe Bäckstedt: “This was a super good result for me and the team. We started the week on the back foot with two riders unable to start due to sickness and losing our leader, Kasia, after day five. But we kept a positive mindset and pushed on to get our two little superstars up there in the GC.

I’m happy I could finish this stage race. It wasn’t easy for me battling sickness for the last few days, but I pushed on to complete it with a lot of motivation from my teammates.

After a bit of rest and getting back to training, this will help me with my goals for the rest of my season, making me stronger after eight tough days on the bike!”

More news

Share this post