Throughout the 2021 Giro d’Italia we will be running columns from La Course En Tête.
Amongst all the talk of Annemiek versus Anna and SD Worx versus the rest of the peloton, one incredibly consistent rider rarely gets a mention in English commentary: Mavi García. The double Spanish champion took three top-10 results this spring — including 5th at Flèche Wallonne. She regularly makes the select front groups that make up the race once the attritional racing that is characteristic of the women’s peloton reaches the final stages.
When we speak she is fresh off the back of taking second on GC behind Annemiek van Vleuten in the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana 2.1 stage race despite being caught up in a crash on stage three.
“I’m really happy,” she says. “I’ve gotten some top-10s and a top-5 in Flèche Wallonne and for me, that’s something I hadn’t managed until this season, so I’m pretty satisfied with those results and this start to the season.”
García’s background is in duathlon — she won medals at the world long-distance duathlon championships in 2016 and 2017 — and she only turned her considerable athletic talent towards cycling in 2015, aged 31. Now 37 — just one year younger than van Vleuten — she is arguably at her prime.
“In women’s cycling I think our careers are a bit longer,” she says. “In the case of Annemiek she has a few more years of doing cycling than me but in my case, I have less time as a cyclist so I think my cycling career could last longer for this reason but I don’t put a limit on it either. In general, in women’s cycling, we carry on for longer than the men.”
García and van Vleuten might be close in age but García is also known to come close to matching the formidable former-world champion in strength, too. Perhaps most memorably, at last year’s summer Strade Bianche when García valiantly held onto the dominant Dutchwoman’s wheel after van Vleuten bridged up to her solo move, she eventually came second.
Taking an on-form van Vleuten to task is no mean feat, and García backed up that form, going on to take her double national titles and then race both the seven-day Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche and the 10-day Giro Rosa practically back-to-back — coming second and ninth in GC respectively.
Despite an impressive palmarès, García has yet to take to the top step in a WorldTour race, but it’s on her radar.
“We always fight for the win,” she says. “It’s difficult but I also don’t think it’s impossible and if it’s not this year then whenever I can. But every race I keep trying and the sooner I can win the better.”
That moment may well come at the next Women’s WorldTour race, Vuelta a Burgos Feminas from May 20 – 23. She won the race in its former iteration as a Spanish national cup round in 2016. This time, however, she will have to beat some of the world’s best climbers if she wants to take the overall — among which somebody with a 5th place at Flèche Wallonne can certainly include themselves.
Astonishingly, all things considered, the Mallorcan doesn’t count herself in peak condition.
“I think that now I’m in good form, not the best, but good form,” she said. “I hope I can also get a good result in these two races in Navarra. Also in Burgos, which I think will have a really high level this year, to be among the best would be really good.”
Thanks to the increasing quantity and regularity of live coverage of women’s racing we will get to see García and her colleagues challenge each other in the upcoming races and throughout the season, something that she is passionate about.
“It is a very big step that will have a huge impact on us,” she says. “It is the first thing I always say, that there should be more broadcast of our races. We are starting where people can see them. Let’s see if over time it can be a little more every time because they have started with showing just the last hour of the race. But it’s something. So I hope we continue taking these types of steps, which for us are small but are very important.”
If García herself continues to take small but important steps in her career then it won’t be long before that live coverage shows her crossing the line first in a top-level race.
For 2021 her aim is “to keep the same form and to be able to continue fighting to try to win races,” but most importantly, “to keep enjoying it, in the end, this is something that I love doing, and as long as I continue to enjoy it and I’m able to be at a high level then for me the goal has been reached.”