Demi Vollering has triumphed in the second leg of the Tour of the Basque Country for women, securing a victory for the SD Worx team. Overcoming the formidable challenge presented by Soraya Paladin and Marlen Reusser after a gruelling hilly leg, Vollering naturally retains her position at the top of the general classification after her opening stage win yesterday and today.
The second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country commenced in Vitoria-Gasteiz. From this northern Spanish municipality, the riders embarked on a demanding 133.2-kilometre journey. The day was characterised by numerous hills and a climbing finish, concluding in Amurrio.
It was a considerable while before a breakaway was initiated on Saturday. Eventually, three riders took up the challenge: Silvia Magri, Giorgia Vettorella and Maria Novolodskaya ventured off the beaten track after roughly 80 kilometres, only to be reeled in thirty kilometres later.
Upon the capture of the trio of leaders, the race entered the final 30 kilometres. This was the cue for SD Worx to seize the reins and escalate the tempo. The relentless pace set by SD Worx, combined with numerous attacks, gradually whittled down the size of the peloton.
The first notably successful attack was launched by Britain’s Claire Steels. The rider from Israel Premier Tech Roland established a lead of half a minute, plunging into the final fifteen kilometres. However, on the day’s concluding climb, Steels hit a physical wall and the gap came down again. At this juncture, Vollering and Katarzyna Niewiadoma appeared to have plenty in reserve, swiftly closing in on the leader.
Yet, the trio failed to effectively coordinate their descent, allowing the chasing peloton to close the gap and re-enter the fray in the final kilometre. Annemiek van Vleuten made an attempt to go long under the flamme rouge but it didn’t stick. Instead, Marlen Reusser was leading out Soraya Paladin until the Swiss rider briefly took the wrong line into an S-bend corner. That encouraged Soraya Paladin to start her sprint but in the end, Vollering was in a league of her own. The Dutch rider easily outpaced Soraya Paladin and her own teammate, Marlen Reusser.
“I knew my form was good, but to have won all five stages of Itzulia so far is really special. I wasn’t expecting this today, the plan was to pull Marlen’s card in an attack. When that didn’t work, I tried to go for it in the sprint. The finish ran up and that suits me. Marlen did a perfect lead-out for me, after which I was able to finish it off. I can’t believe it. Of course I hope to continue that line tomorrow.
It would be a dream to score six out of six in the Basque Country, but tomorrow will be a difficult day. It will be important to stay safe. The climb in the final is difficult, followed by a nice descent and then a flat section to the finish. We showed today how strong our team is. So we are keen to be successful again tomorrow.”Demi Vollering
2023 Itzulia Women Stage 2 result
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Main photo credit: Getty Images