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New champion to emerge on Lagunas de Neila - Vuelta a Burgos Feminas Preview

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas
Vuelta a Burgos Feminas (Image credit: Getty Images)

The best riders in the world are competing on Spanish-soil during the month of May in what also marks the first series of stage races ahead of the the double-header Giro d'Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes both held later in July.

As demonstrated last year, in its first outing on the Women's WorldTour, Vuelta a Burgos Feminas was a hit among the climbers in the peloton, and the race came down to a whisker, just three seconds, between two heavy-hitters overall winner Anna van der Breggen (then SD Worx) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar).

Neither rider will be on the start line this year leaving the race wide open in the battle for overall victory. Van der Breggen has since retired from pro racing and has moved into a sports director role at SD Worx and Van Vleuten is currently recovering after suffering a broken wrist sustained training crash.

What can we expect this year?

Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten sprint to the top of Lagunas de Neila on the final day of racing

Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten sprint to the top of Lagunas de Neila on the final day of racing (Image credit: Getty Images)

The four-day event offers a total of eight categorised climbs and two mountaintop finishes during the 489.4 kilometres of racing. 

There are two mountaintop finishes with stage 3 at Ojo Guareña and the race will culminate with a heavy day of climbing on stage 4, which includes the potentially-race-deciding mountaintop finish at Lagunas de Neila. The 12km ascent to the finish line averages 9.6% in elevation gain, with an 11% gradient in the final kilometre.

Cyclingnews has published the full four-day route details including maps and profiles.

We can expect SD Worx to arrive on point to defend their title from last year. Demi Vollering recently won all three stages and the overall title at the inaugural Itzulia Women and was expected to be a favourite for Vuelta a Burgos Feminas.

The team arrive with Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Anna Shackley, while Tour of Flanders winner Lotte Kopecky will be a strong contender for the pair of punchy opening stages.

Vollering and Moolman Pasio were involved in a crash at Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria, and while Vollering spent the night in hospital, the team have confirmed that both riders have not sustained injuries from the crash. The team will decide on Thursday morning, ahead of stage 1, whether Vollering will start.

"Normally she’ll start, but this is a decision which will be made tomorrow morning," the team told Cyclingnews.

Sarah Gigante will be another favourites to win the overall title for Movistar. The Australian secured her first victory for her new team at Emakumeen Nafarroako, and although she did not start stage 2 at Itzulia Women, she highlights the roster for Burgos alongside Emma Norsgaard, Sara Martin and Paula Patiño.

Spanish Champion Mavi Garcia is back to racing after testing positive for COVID-19 that sidelined her from Itzulia Women. She had a series of strong results this spring with ninth overall at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, sixth at Amstel Gold Race, fifth at Flèche Wallonne, and second overall at Vuelta Ciclista Andalucía Ruta Del Sol. Last week she was third at Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar and fifth at Emakumeen Nafarroako Women. She will race as part of a four-rider team that includes Sophie Wright, Laura Tomasi, Alessia Patuelli.

BikeExchange-Jayco were forced to pull out of Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria due to illness within the team, but they have a confirmed roster at Vuelta a Burgos that includes Kristen Faulkner, Amanda Spratt and Ane Santesteban, who are all strong climbers.

Jumbo-Visma is not registered to compete and has instead opted to race the one-day Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic on Friday.

Team DSM's Liane Lippert was sixth overall at Itzulia and will be a strong card to play for the Dutch team. Canyon-SRAM's Pauliena Rooijakkers just captured a victory at Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria, after also finishing second overall at Itzulia. The team haven't confirmed their line-up but if she is racing, she will undoubtedly want to capitalise on her strong form.

EF Education-TIBCO-SVB line up with revelation Veronica Ewers, who has recent won a stage at Festival Elsy Jacobs and Navarra Women's Elite Classics, while also finishing second at Emakumeen Nafarroako and Durango - Durango Emakumeen Saria.

FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope arrive with Ardennes Classics star Marta Cavalli, who won both Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, and recently finished fourth overall at Itzulia Women.

Lucinda Brand and Shirin van Anrooij of Trek-Segafredo will no doubt add spark to the race, both opportunists who push boundaries and ignite breakaways.

A total of 21 teams will take part, 12 of them of the highest category of world women's cycling, although rosters have yet to be confirmed on the day ahead of the event. 

Among the nine UCI Continental squads are four from Spain-Eneicat-RBH Global, Massi Tactic Women's Team, Sopela Women's Team and Bizkaia–Durango, with an opportunity to showcase rising national talent at one of the biggest races on home soil.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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