Sheyla Gutiérrez claimed today her first senior Spanish national championships in Soria, a small city in the midst of the Iberian plateau.
The 23-year-old cyclist, now in her second season riding in the international peloton with Cylance Pro Cycling, was the best on an uphill finish in a close contest with Mavi García (Bizkaia-Durango), who couldn't manage to defend her Spanish national crown successfully.
This is Gutiérrez's maiden national title as a senior rider after being U23 champion five times: three on the Road Race and two on the Individual Time Trial.
"The course really suited my abilities, with a final one kilometre hill that was ideal for a rider with a good kick like me,” said the winner in the aftermath of the race. "I was on a really bad streak but luckily I have been able to overcome everything and triumph. I deserve this victory."
How the race unfolded
The Women peloton is small in Spain. That means bounds are tight as everyone know each other maybe a bit too well, and that leads to slow, tactic races in which the bunch seem to crawl for kilometres waiting for someone to take the initiative.
This happened today in Soria: the first two hours of race happened without anything happening. "Bizkaia-Durango has been so dominant this season that we all have been keeping our cards close to our chests, expecting them to shake the race anytime," explained Belén López, an expert rider who dared to attack a couple of times trying to terminate the apparent truce only to find no one was keen to echo her aggression.
Then the second part of the race arrived - and with it began the race itself. The women had to give three laps to a 20-kilometers circuit that featured different short climbs, with an especially sharp one in the last kilometre to spice things up and eventually decide who was to claim the national title.
It was in the second of the three laps that Bizkaia-Durango said their word by sending Lourdes Oyarbide up the road. The 23-year-old rider from Egino (Álava) had won the Spanish National Championships ITT on the eve of this Road Race, proving she taken advantage of a sabbatical year after finishing her University degree on Industrial Design to develop her sporting potential for good.
"I attacked with 40 kilometres to go because the whole bunch had given us the full responsibility to respond and control every skirmish and even our two designated leaders, Mavi García and Lorena Llamas, were being forced to move themselves," explained Oyarbide after the race. "Therefore, I decided to attack and took the effort as a time-trial while it lasted - another ITT, after the one I did yesterday! Now I'm shattered," Oyarbide claimed with her usual, wide smile.
The Basque team, led here by Alé-Cipollini's Ane Santesteban and Lointek Team's Eider Merino, set the pace in the peloton to control Oyarbide's breakaway and eventually neutralize her with 5 kilometers to go. It was then that Belén López made a final attempt to sneak away, quickly shut down by a bunch that was ready to tackle the final, decisive climb.
Santesteban was the first to attack. "I accelerated from the bottom of the climb, trying to render it as hard as possible," the Basque rider recounted in the aftermath, "but both Mavi and Sheyla were too strong." Indeed, both riders reached the summit together, with Gutiérrez being the fastest in the short descent to the finish line.
Gutiérrez's victory inspired a feeling of content amongst the knowing attendants. Oyarbide, par example, stated: "Even if it is disappointing to see Mavi couldn't reclaim the title, I'm really happy for Sheyla. She has really stepped up this couple of seasons and deserves this victory."
Oyarbide's words are just a sample of those expressed by almost every rider around. The joy doesn't come only from sporting reasons, but because it meant some cheerfulness for Gutiérrez and her family after the different health problems and heart strokes suffered by her aunt Begoña Ruiz, who is herself a prominent figure in the Spanish women's cycling scene. Ruiz was indeed greeted as much as Gutiérrez was. After all, it's a small peloton with tight bounds.
Gutiérrez was, of course, happy to dedicate this victory to Ruiz. "This victory is for my aunt Begoña. I'm so glad she is alive and well to see me win this," she said with a tear in her eye.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sheyla Gutierrez (Spa) Cylance Pro C.||3:04:18|
|2||Margarita Victoria Garcia (Spa) Bizkaia Durango|
|3||Ane Santesteban (Spa) Euskadi||0:00:05|
|4||Eider Merino (Spa) Euskadi||0:00:07|
|5||Lorena Llamas (Spa) Bizkaia Durango||0:00:10|
|6||Alicia Gonzalez (Spa) Asturias||0:00:12|
|7||Lierni Lekuona (Spa) Bizkaia Durango||0:00:19|
|8||Aida Nuño (Spa) Asturias||0:00:23|
|9||Gloria Rodríguez (Spa) Murcia|
|10||Rocio Gamonal (Spa) Asturias|
|11||Anna Ramirez (Spa) Catalunya|
|12||Alba Teruel (Spa) Com. Valenciana||0:00:31|
|13||Sandra Alonso (Spa) Com. Valenciana||0:00:34|
|14||Belen Lopez (Spa) Andalucia|
|15||Irene Méndez (Spa) Murcia|
|16||Yessica Perez (Spa) Bizkaia Durango|
|17||Elena Ordiñana (Spa) C.C. Manuel|
|18||Cristina Martinez (Spa) Com. Valenciana|
|19||Ainara Elbusto (Spa) Bolibia Feminas||0:00:45|
|20||Elena Perez (Spa) Andalucia|
|21||Sandra Moral (Spa) Galicia||0:00:52|
|22||Elisabet Llabres (Spa) Illes Balears||0:00:55|
|23||María A. Medina (Spa) Fuenlabrada Uc||0:01:04|
|24||Ariadna Trias (Spa) Catalunya||0:01:14|
|25||Catalina Rayo (Spa) Illes Balears||0:01:27|
|26||Ane Iriarte (Spa) Euskadi||0:01:33|
|27||Kataiza Sierra (Spa) Canarias|
|28||Cristina Pujol (Spa) Bizkaia Durango||0:01:43|
|29||Beatriu Gomez (Spa) Catalunya||0:01:44|
|30||Raquel Del Aguila (Spa) Omnium Bcn Cc||0:01:49|
|31||Teresa Ripoll (Spa) Com. Valenciana||0:01:57|
|32||Leire Olaberria (Spa) Gipuzkoa Ogiberri||0:02:05|
|33||Empar Felix (Spa) Lointek||0:02:18|
|34||Lourdes Oyarbide (Spa) Bizkaia Durango||0:02:33|
|35||Paula Sanmartin (Spa) Galicia||0:03:43|
|36||Coral Casado (Spa) Cántabria|
|37||Miriam Gardachal (Spa) Navarra||0:03:49|
|38||Ana Usabiaga (Spa) Euskadi||0:04:01|
|39||Lucia Gonzalez (Spa) Asturias|
|40||Patricia Nicolás (Spa) Murcia||0:04:52|
|41||Esther Muñoz (Spa) Madrid||0:05:00|
|42||Laura Tenorio (Spa) Castilla Y Leon||0:05:02|
|43||Victoria Aurell (Spa) Sopela Ugeraga|
|44||Sandra Trevilla (Spa) Cántabria|
|45||Esther Cañete (Spa) Aragon||0:05:15|
|46||Eukene Larrarte (Spa) Euskadi||0:05:26|
|47||Pilar Núñez (Spa) Murcia||0:07:03|
|48||Mireia Benito (Spa) Catalunya||0:07:32|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alicia Gonzalez (Spa) Asturias||3:04:30|
|2||Lierni Lekuona (Spa) Bizkaia Durango||0:00:07|
|3||Alba Teruel (Spa) Com. Valenciana||0:00:19|
|4||Sandra Alonso (Spa) Com. Valenciana||0:00:22|
|5||Cristina Martinez (Spa) Com. Valenciana|
|6||Elisabet Llabres (Spa) Illes Balears||0:00:43|
|7||Empar Felix (Spa) Lointek||0:02:06|