The women’s Itzulia is a reality. The event, for the first time in their history, made a women’s race the past 13 of May, an edition that will end on the 15th on Sunday, after three stages on the highest of levels as part of the UCI Women’s World Tour calendar.
The lineup for the Bizkaia Durango for this Itzulia was composed by Daniela Campos, Lucia Gonzalez, Melissa Maia, Alba Teruel, Aileen Schweikart and Carolina Upegui. The team raced at home, this because in the next stage they will race through Bizkaia’s roads.
The route had a total of 363’3 kilometers spread over three stages online, starting in Vitoria-Gasteiz, going through the localities of Alava, Bizkaia and Guipuzkoa and ending at Donostia-San Sebastian. We lived this first editionof Itzulia from inside thanks to Aileen Schweikart (Bizkaia-Durango).
It had 105’9km that went from Vitoria-Gasteiz until Labastida, with a foot breaking track and a hard ending of the day filled with ramps that had a total slope average of the 20%. Dami Vollering with Pauliena Rooijakkers and Kristen Faulknervence were arriving very exhausted to the finish line bt Vollering passed them in the sprint.
"The night before the race I asked my roommate: ¿What do you think I am doing wrong? I know I am really well trained, but I get so nervous... that I don't have strength at the race. - She looked at me and answers me "You need to race without a mind - like a Barbie" - And that’s what I did, I raced without thinking, without having anything in mind, without expecting anything. My partner Alba helped me a lot in this race, she encouraged me about going in front and she spoke with me during the race to calm me down. Thanks to this, I successfully dominated the first race in Itzulia. The first day I accompanied the attacks, I was leading the group and I simply enjoyed the cycling I did. I lost the leading group on the kilometer 80 because of bad positioning, but I was really happy during all the race and I had true fun; my 51st spot in my first Stage Race of World Tour". Says Aileen.
The second stage had a length of 117’9km with the start and the finish line at Mallabia, including six mountain passes that could be scored, with Karabieta as the most noticeable one. The stage had a gap that was neutralized in the last ascendants, where the candidates to the victory attacked and once again Vollering ended up being the strongest, taking the win home and being able to keep the leader pants ahead of Rooijakkers and Faulkner with 22 and 42 seconds ahead respectively.
“It was brilliant. I positioned myself way better. A route with lots of bumps and really demanding (the toughest of the three days). My legs responded and that all I needed. In the last mountain they attacked once again. I kept myself in the second group and I was able to finish with a small group which was 2 min away from the leader. A personal success for me....Couldn't be happier....Position 26 with room for improvement”
To finish the Sunday, the third stage stood out because of its length, 139’8km, it started and finished at Donostia with an ascendance as the protagonist, Jaizkibel, mountain pass from the 2nd category with a 7’9km and a 5’6% of medium slope and slopes known by most of cyclists, like Gurutze or Murgil-Tontorra. Once again, Vollering took home the last stage, this time separating from the group at the ascendance and getting to the finish line alone.
“The final stage was in San Sebastian: 35º, a large route with and demanding at the end. I started with more confidence. I was quite well positioned in the group. At the end there was a ramp with a 20% slope that lasted for 2km. In this stage, it was essential to position yourself somewhere on the front. The teams from the World Tour move themselves through the groups to position their leaders in the best positions they can; for me it was a bit hard to find that forward position, that’s why I started relatively in the back. But little by little, I was able to recover the lost terrain. After the 140th kilometer I crossed the finish line, with a spot in the TOP 30”.
The girls from Bizkaia-Durango didn’t have the best days, but they still took advantage of the race to keep themselves in shape and to keep getting better for future competitions.Aileen and Lucia were the best ones from the team finishing the three stages and achieving to maintain the level of the group.
At the end the general leaderboard ended up like this: Demi Vollering (SD Worx) as the winner, followed by Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-Sram) and Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange) with a lead of 0:47” and 1’:07” respectively.
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