Kennedy solos to victory at inaugural women’s San Sebastián

Kennedy overcame a late puncture setback to win by 23 seconds in the first edition of the Spanish one-day race.

Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked twice and survived a late puncture to win the first edition of the women’s Donostia San Sebastián. Janneke Ensing (WNT-Rotor) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv) came home second and third respectively.

It was a well-earned victory for the Australian, who punctured while soloing away from the peloton, leaving her having to chase back to the leaders. She attacked a second time on the final climb of the day, and this time, was able to escape incident to take victory by 23 seconds.

“I’m still in a little bit of a shock really,” said Kennedy after the race. “I had a bit of bad luck on the descent with a flat and then another mechanical so I don’t want to say I thought it was over but it was looking unlikely, but I just kept on fighting and kept on fighting.”

The first edition of the race was categorized second tier in the rankings at UCI 1.1, with organizers hoping for the race to move up to WorldTour in following years, and shared the start-finish area with the men’s race in central San Sebastian. The 127 kilometer route included many of the major climbs that featured in the men’s race, including the Murgil Tontorra category 2 climb which peaked with just 10km to go.

Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar) and Anastasia Chursina (BTC-City) broke away early in the race and pulled out a 3:00 gap. A chase group of 14 formed, including Kennedy and her Mitchelton-Scott teammate Georgia Williams.

After the initial breakaway pair were caught, another two riders went off the front. However, on the penultimate climb of the day, the Maddiola, which fell with 40km to the line, Kennedy attacked the chase group and passed the two leaders, building a gap of almost one minute by the summit.

However, as she descended, she punctured and was slow to get assistance, forcing her to chase back over one minute to the group. Ensing was the last rider at the front of the race at this point, and the chase group, which included Kennedy, set about closing down her 50-second gap. As the steep slopes of the final climb of the day kicked, Kennedy attacked from the group and came straight past Ensing.

The WNT-Rotor rider was unable to bring Kennedy back on the flat final run to the line, leaving the Australian to win by 23 seconds, with Ensing placing second. Rooijakkers sprinted to take third from a small group, a further 41 seconds back.

Kennedy celebrates with the traditional Basque hat on the podium. Photo: Amaia Zabalo/Getty Images

“It’s my second win around here after Emakumeen Saria so I really like this area,” the winner said. “I really like the courses they set, really tough courses and the fans are incredible. On that last climb, that was what kept me going the fans screaming.”

Donostia San Sebastián

Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott): 3:38:04

Janneke Ensing (WNT-Rotor): 0:23

Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv): 1:04