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Taking place over four stages, the race around the Spanish region often attracts some of the sport’s biggest names as the race takes on sprint stages as well as hilly days and a brutal summit finish on the final stage. The race takes place between Thursday, May 19th and Sunday, May 22nd.
This relatively new race slots in nicely after the inaugural Itzulia Women race that took place earlier in May, making a nice double header of Spanish races before the WorldTour heads to Great Britain for RideLondon and the Women’s Tour.
Last season’s winner Anna van der Breggen will not be taking part after retiring and becoming a sports director for her SD Worx squad.
Even last year’s runner up, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), will not be racing after fracturing her wrist in a training crash. However, she has been out training in Andorra so she may return to racing soon.
The route: Opportunities for everyone
Taking place over four stages the star studded line-up will battle it out for the purple and pink leader’s jersey.
The opening two stages should come down to bunch sprints with relatively flat stages. The third stage goes into more hilly terrain with a sharp uphill finish. The fourth and final stage is the usual brutal mountain top finish atop the Lagunas de Neila.
Stage one: Pedrosa del Principe to Aranda de Duero, 121.9km
The largely flat stage will see riders fight out for one mountain sprint and an intermediate sprint.
Stage two: Sasamon to Aguilar de Campoo, 129km
Another very flat stage with two short categorized climbs and an intermediate sprint before the expected mass dash to the line.
Stage three: Medina de Pomar to Complejo Kárstico Ojo Guareña 113.5km
Into the hills the riders go with a testing second half of the race that culminates with a category three climb to the line. This could be the first day that we see who the favorites for the race are.
Stage four: Covarrubias to Lagunas de Neila
In classic Spanish stage racing style, the big mountain stage is mostly flat with just a couple of small climbs before hitting the ‘Especial’ climb of the Lagunas de Neila that goes up to 1,870 meters above sea level.
The climb averages 4.8 percent gradient but the final three kilometers are regularly over 9 percent with the last kilometer averaging a brutal 11 percent.
The contenders: Some of the world’s best in attendance
After she crashed during the one-day Durango-Durango race on Tuesday, it was in question whether Demi Vollering (SD Worx), last year’s third overall in this race, would be able to start.
However, Vollering posted to Instagram on Wednesday afternoon to say that after spending a night in hospital she was absolutely fine and even went on a bike ride when she got back to the hotel.
This means that Vollering will lead a very strong SD Worx outfit with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Niamh Fisher-Black being plan B and C as well as the Tour of Flanders winner Lotte Kopecky returning to road action after some time in the velodrome.
BikeExchange-Jayco are coming to the race with third overall at Itzulia Women, Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco), leading the Australian outfit. However, focus could potentially be switched to Amanda Spratt or Ane Santesteban with the latter showing excellent form in recent races before having to abandon after a fifth place on stage one of Itzulia Women due to illness.
Veronica Ewers will hope to continue to ride her wave of amazing form for EF Education-Tibco-SVB, along with Tour of the Gila winner Krista Doebel-Hickok co-leading the squad.
Canyon-SRAM will likely have their full focus on the on form Pauliena Rooijakkers who took second at Itzulia Women behind Vollering as well as a very well deserved win at Durango-Durango. The team is filled with talent including a return to racing for Kasia Niewiadoma plus Elise Chabbey for the climbs and Sarah Roy for the sprints.
With DSM the talented duo of Liane Lippert and Juliette Labous will likely be the main focus for the GC.
With Movistar, they have brought a very talented squad including star sprinter Emma Norsgaard with Aude Biannic likely leaders for the mountains.
Another rider to watch from the Spanish squad is Colombian rider Paula Patiño. She is in fine form at the moment taking ninth overall at Itzulia Women and a third place behind teammate Sarah Gigante at Emakumeen Nafarroako.
UAE Team ADQ make their return to racing after having to miss Itzulia Women due to a high number of Covid-19 cases. They start the race with just four riders including their leader and Spanish champion, Mavi Garcia.
FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope are sending a star-studded team with the main focus on Cecile Uttrup Ludwig who returned to action at Durango-Durango where she finished third. Alongside her is Ardennes Classics star Marta Cavalli and Aussie talent Grace Brown, not to mention French champion Evita Muzic giving the French team a real plethora of options.
WorldTour team leaders Trek-Segafredo are focussing more on the sprint side of things with a look at possible stage victories. Chloe Hosking, Amalie Dideriksen, and Lucinda Brand should all be involved in the mass dashes to the line, whereas American Leah Thomas and former French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot will do their best in the hills and mountains.
One rider to watch from Valcar-Travel & Service is 24-year-old Canadian Olivia Baril who had a brilliant Itzulia Women coming off the back of a victory at GP Ciudad de Eibar and seventh overall at the Festival Elsy Jacobs race.