Vollering wins opening stage at Itzulia Women

Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) won stage 1 of the inaugural Itzulia Women stage race after being very active in the final. The Dutchwoman beat Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-Sram) and Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) to the line in Labastida.

Elise Chabbey (Canyon-Sram) attacked over the top of the last classified climb and was joined by Vollering, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Team SD Worx), and Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) on the descent.

When this group had been caught, Faulkner counterattacked 16 km from the finish and got a small gap. Rooijakkers and Vollering went on the chase with 13 km to go and quickly bridged to Faulkner. They increased their advantage to 41 seconds at the finish line.

On the final kilometre, Rooijakkers attacked with 200 metres to go and entered the steep finishing straight first, but Vollering fought back and won the stage ahead of Rooijakkers and Faulkner. Liane Lippert (Team DSM) won the sprint of the peloton for fourth place.

"It was a hard race," Vollering said after the finish. "I was in the first group after the downhill, but we couldn't make it into the final. Then I thought, 'ok, now I need to try to recover and then find a good moment to attack again'. I found a good moment and then Pauliena came with me. She is a nice person to have in the break, she is always riding with you."

Vollering had led the group of three on the final kilometre and said that Rooijakkers' move didn't surprise her: "I expected Pauliena to make it a long sprint as she went already before the corner, but I tried to keep my head cool and try to get over her again, and I made it. It was a really nice finish, I like it, so it was good for me. It is nice to be in the leader's jersey tomorrow."

Vollering leads the general classification with a six-second advantage on Rooijakkers and ten seconds ahead of Faulkner. Due to bonus seconds, Brand is fourth at 50 seconds, Moolman Pasio sits in fifth place at 52 seconds, with Lippert leading a large group of riders at 53 seconds.

How it unfolded

The break of the day went after 30 of the day's 105.9 kilometres and consisted of Prisca Savi (BePink), Anastasia Lebedeva (Eneicat-RBH Global), Cristina Tonetti (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), and Mireia Benito (Massi Tactic).

Tonetti won the first intermediate sprint while Benito was first over the second-category climb of Mirador de Rivas and will wear the mountain jersey on stage 2.

Benito was also the escapee who stayed away the longest, only being caught on the slopes of the third-category climb to Herrera, the last classified climb of the day that was followed by a fast descent and a rolling final.

Chabbey took full points at the top and soon got company from Vollering, Moolman-Pasio, and Brand. They had a 13-second advantage with 30km to go, and although they increased this to 25 seconds on the climb to the intermediate sprint in Laguardia, the peloton reeled the quartet in with 18 kilometres to the finish due to the work of Team DSM.

Faulkner was next to get away. She was joined by Vollering and Rooijakkers, and the peloton had nothing left to control the gap, leaving the trio to fight for the stage win.

On top of the general classification, Vollering also leads the points classification, though Rooijakkers will wear the green points jersey in her stead. Vollering's teammate Niamh Fisher-Black, 11th overall, is the best young rider and will start stage 2 in the blue U23 jersey.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.

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