Road

Lorena Wiebes takes stage 1 of Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta

The 21-year-old Dutchwoman took the uphill bunch sprint finish ahead of Elisa Balsamo and defending champion Lisa Brennauer.

Lorena Wiebes sprinted to victory on stage 1 of Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta Friday.

The 21-year-old Dutchwoman took the uphill bunch sprint finish ahead of Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) and defending champion Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT).

The stage winner told Belgian Wielerflits, “It was a very fast stage today. And in the second half of the stage, we had the wind on the head and the side. That made it nervous. But the team did a great job keeping me out of the wind the whole time. Luckily we had several cards to play, but it turned into a bunch sprint and we all did our best to keep me in a good position towards the final climb.”

The opening kilometers were covered in excess of 55kph, thanks to a blustery but helpful tailwind.

At just over 55km, Mireia Benito (Massi-Tactic) attacked the main group. She was guided off course, inexplicably, and the peloton was similarly directed to do so, 40 seconds behind the leader.

The race was temporarily neutralized but was quickly re-routed back on course.

Despite several attacks at 30km and again at 20km, nothing stuck, and the entire strung-out group came into the final 5km together.

A crash forced some confusion just outside of the final kilometer

Wiebes, the winner of the 2020 Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, proved strongest in the final uphill drag, aided by an efficient Team Sunweb leadout.

She’s also scored victories this season at the Omloop van het Hageland and the GP Euromat racing for Parkhotel Valkenburg, before a mid-season transfer to Sunweb.

Stage 2 Saturday is a 9.6km individual time trial.