Race leader Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) made it two in a row with the victory on stage 2 at the Vuelta Ciclista Andalucia Ruta Del Sol Women.
The Cuban champion was part of a select lead group of five riders to crest the category 3 climb of Puerto de la Mar just one kilometre from the finish. ,Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon-SRAM Generation) finished second and Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ) took third, in a reversal of the final podium spots from the opening day.
Sierra had been in the early breakaway, but with 50k to go had a mechanical and had to drop back to the peloton. Both Sierra and teammate Katrine Aalerud were also delayed with a crash and then slowing to swerve to avoid debris in the road and another crash ahead of them.
"Despite those two setbacks that I suffered - a silly crash, which forced me to stop and fix my bike, and then that bidon I was able to narrowly avoid -, and the energy it cost me to get back to the peloton (which I missed in the end), we as a team were able to keep the best position at the crucial points and climbs," Sierra said at the end of the day.
The UAE Team ADQ attacked several times in the final 9km, including Spanish champion García. Sarah Gigante, Sara Martín and Jelena Erić were among the Movistar riders with Aalerud and Paula Patiño to check the moves. Then Aalerud and Patiño, who sits fourth overall, helped pace Sierra on the final climb, the 7.6km ascent of the Puerto de la Mar with its pitches of 9 per cent.
"When Katrine was into the break with Mavi and the other UAEs, my teammates reacted in a very precise way. Jelena pushed really hard, then Paula kept the pace high and there even was a moment when we thought about asking Katrine to drop back and assist them, but then I thought it wouldn't play to my advantage to have my own group getting back to the front, I had to attack. It was better to keep Katrine in front and look for the appropriate distance to launch my move and get back," said Sierra.
"Once it all came back together, Paula helped me keep things under control. It was such great work from Katrine, Paula... Everyone. I stayed calm in the finale, taking all responsibility. I entered the last kilometer in second, third place, Bauernfeind attacked and I went after her. I had to take the best position going into the sprint and it all turned out well - even better than expected, considering those setbacks."
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