Today’s Ceratizit Challenge presentation saw the route for 2021’s race announced. The race leaves Madrid and is transported to the north western corner of Spain, the Galicia region. The stage race has an extra stage compared to previous years as the race starts to become a stable part of the calendar. The Ceratizit Challenge is effectively the women’s Vuelta a Espana, run at the same time of year and also owned by ASO. It’s slowly maturing in a feature length stage race.
The first three stages of the Ceratizit Challenge will be based around the Cabeza de Manzaneda Ski Resort. All 3 stages will stage from the resort, with one stage making a return and finishing there. The final stage is flat and heads into the centre of Santiago de Compostela. This fits nicely with the men’s Vuelta a Espana, which finishes in Santiago de Compostela that day with a final time trial. Even then, the women’s race won’t simply be doing laps around a city centre course thankfully.
Lisa Brennauer has won the last two editions of the race but the change in parcours should see her reign come to a close. The new route will suit a punchy climber who has a bit of a sprint for the end of the racing. Stage 1 will see the climbers try and drop competitors on the Alta de Portela but it’s positioned around 50km from the end of the stage. Descending skills will be important for the final part. Stage 2 is a mountain time trial, which will suit the major favourites and allow them to gain some major time gaps.
Stage 3 is similar to Stage 1 but not quite as difficult. Again climbers will try and drop other riders in the middle of the stage but there’s still 40km of lumpy race route left after the major summit. Stage 4 should be a bunch sprint, although there’s a little bump around 8km from the end that might be a launching point for attacks.