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La Vuelta Femenina: van Vleuten and Vollering throw down on Covadonga

La Vuelta Femenina: van Vleuten and Vollering throw down on Covadonga

World champion Annemiek van Vleuten was able to withstand an assault from Demi Vollering on the final and queen stage of La Vuelta Femenina to defend her title in the first of three Women’s WorldTour “Grand Tours”. It was van Vleuten’s first victory of the season and a natural hat trick of La Vuelta Femenina championships.

The Race So Far

Jumbo-Visma was tops in the team time trial opener, Brit Anna Henderson pulling on the leader’s jersey. The next day Henderson’s teammate Marianne Vos assumed the race lead when she came runner-up to Charlotte Kool in a bunch sprint. Vos kept adding to her GC gap with two consecutive wins. Stage 5 was the first uphill finish, and it was atop Mirador de Peñas Llanas that Vollering beat van Vleuten to rise to the top of the table.

With winds lashing the peloton in Stage 6, the field split at the 30 km mark and van Vleuten led a steadily shrinking group towards Laredo, where it took the judges a long time to award Gaia Realini the day’s flowers.

Van Vleuten thus went into the final day with 1:11 over WorldTour leader Vollering. Canada’s Olivia Baril had steadily risen in the GC ranks until she was sixth; up until Sunday her best WorldTour stage race placing had been ninth in last season’s Tour de Suisse. Sara Poidevin, Magdeleine Vallieres, Simone Boilard and Adele Normand were the other Canadians in Spain.

The Course
The queen stage was 93.7 km with a Cat. 2 right in the middle and a sting in the tail via Lagos la Covadonga. This 13.3-km beast was 6.8 percent and had three steps: 8 km of 9 percent, 1.3 km of 8.3 percent and 1.5 km of 8.4 percent. The finish line was 2 km past the Covadonga’s crest.

A trio of fugitives was brought to heel before the Cat. 2 Collado Moandi, where the peloton split. Van Vleuten, Vollering and Realini were all in the front group but Baril was not. Marlen Reusser and Katarzyna Niewiadoma bolted on the descent and pulled out a minute’s…

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