Olds shows Worlds form with Madrid Challenge victory

American overcomes late-race puncture to get the win

American Shelley Olds (Ale-Cippolini) showed strong Worlds form in the first-ever edition of the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta one-day race, taking a convincing bunch sprint victory.

As the peloton fractured on the slightly uphill finishing straight in Paseo de la Castellana, Olds fended off double former World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) and Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) for the win.

The multi-lap 87km city-centre race was a first for the Vuelta, following the model started by the Tour de France with La Course in Paris in 2014 and held on the same course where the men’s Vuelta will finish a few hours later.

The race was watched by sizable crowds in warm September afternoon sunshine.

Although an 11-rider break late on briefly looked as if it might stay away, hard work by Lotto-Soudal and Hitec Products in the last lap all but ensured a bunch sprint.

Olds victory was, the Californian told Cyclingnews, unsettled by a puncture “with four [laps] so I was a little nervous after that. But my team put me back in the race no problem, so fast, I was able to get back in the bunch and recover before the sprint.”

“I just had a really good wheel in the sprint, and I felt good. I’m happy because it’s a really big victory for me and I’m really excited.”

The slightly uphill finish favoured her, she recognised, “it was better for me. Kirsten [Wild] probably has twice the power I have in a sprint than I have so a little uphill helps me just a little bit.”

Wilds had been able to hitch a lift with the Hitec leadout train, she said, “which did a perfect job. Kirsten jumped first, but I jumped early but I think I had to do that with the [uphill]. I went for it on the inside and I was able to hold them off.”

 

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