Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) has followed up on her stage 1 victory by also winning stage 2 of the Itzulia Women. A group of five had formed on the category-one climb cresting with 12.4 km to go, and the overnight leader was strongest on the uphill finish, crossing the line two seconds ahead of Olivia Baril (Valcar-Travel & Service) and Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), with Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM) and Juliette Labous (Team DSM) a few seconds further behind.
Ahead of the final stage, Vollering now leads the general classification by 22 seconds on Rooijakkers and 42 seconds on Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco).
“Today was awesome, I really liked this finish. I tried to get away earlier multiple times because I felt strong today, and then you need to try. In the downhill I felt really confident on my bike and on the wheels, so I went for it but didn’t stay away. When we were in the group, I was in a perfect position because I had three teammates in the group behind, so I could rest a bit,” Vollering said of the final kilometres where she had Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Niamh Fisher-Black, and Anna Shackley in the chasing group.
Vollering explained her success with coming out of the Ardennes classics well and continuing her training: “I was still feeling pretty fresh and kept on training. I have done a big block of training, and it is nice to see how I’m doing here. I hope I can keep the yellow jersey tomorrow, that would be great."
How it unfolded
Stage 2 started and finished in Mallabia and featured six classified climbs on its 117.9 kilometres, including the 6.7-kilometre, category 1 climb of Karabieta in the final of the stage. It took a long time for a break to get away: Yulia Biriukova (Arkéa Pro Cycling Team) and Marta Jaskulska (Liv Racing-Xstra) were eventually joined by Sheyla Gutiérrez (Movistar Team), Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service), Tatiana Guderzo (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo), and Nina Buijsman (Human Powered Health).
At the intermediate sprint in Mallabia with 38 kilometres to go, the breakaway was still over a minute ahead, putting Biriukova in the virtual leader’s jersey, but then the peloton started the chase in earnest and reeled in the escapees at the start of the Karabieta climb, 19 kilometres from the finish.
The climb had its steepest slopes at the beginning, and Vollering made several attempts to drop her competitors, but the yellow jersey could not get away just yet. However, her attacks thinned out the group as riders were dropped at the back.
After closing an attack by Cavalli, Vollering launched another move with 16.8 km to go, just before the climb flattened out for a bit. Only Cavalli could follow her, with Rooijakkers and Baril having to bridge a small gap. More riders came back on the flatter part, but when the gradient increased, a move by Cavalli 1.5 km from the top made the group fall apart completely.
Vollering and Baril quickly bridged to Cavalli, with Labous and Rooijakkers following soon after. These five riders crested the climb, and Vollering went all-out on the descent, briefly going solo as nobody could hold her wheel on the twisty roads.
The other four riders rejoined Vollering after the descent and defended a 21-second advantage over the next group to the finish line. Rooijakkers launched an attack inside the final kilometre, but Vollering was quickly on her wheel with Baril and Cavalli while Labous struggled. On the final 200 metres, Vollering sprinted past Rooijakkers to win her second stage in as many days. Baril and Cavalli took the remaining podium places.
On the final stage, Rooijakkers will continue to wear the green jersey on loan from Vollering while Fisher-Black is in the blue jersey as the best U23 rider. Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) took over the lead in the mountain classification by winning the first four mountain sprints of the day and will wear the polka-dot jersey.
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