Demi Vollering didn’t manage to win the Tour of the Basque Country. That honour fell to her SD Worx teammate, Marlen Reusser, who clinched a double victory in the final stage of the Women’s WorldTour race by breaking away from an elite group in the closing stages. Vollering was part of that group, fended off Reusser’s attack and thus conceded the stage and overall victory to the Swiss rider despite winning the first two stages.
After two ‘early’ stages, with finishes around 3 p.m., the Tour of the Basque Country organisers opted for an evening stage on the final day. A mini-Clásica San Sebastián was on the agenda, starting and finishing in San Sebastián and featuring the Jaizkibel (7.3 km at 5.9%), the Gurutze (2.5 km at 5.6%), and the Mendizorrotz (3.9 km at 7.7%). The summit of the latter climb was 28 kilometres from the finish.
The race exploded into action on the Mendizorrotz. Demi Vollering initiated proceedings, but her attack was countered by Annemiek van Vleuten. The two rivals gave no quarter on the climb, with Vollering reaching the summit first.
On the somewhat damp descent, Vollering, who was defending a lead of 1’11” over Van Vleuten, took no risks. Consequently, the world champion from Movistar momentarily broke away, but the SD Worx team leader caught up at the bottom of the descent. At that point, there were still twenty kilometres to the finish line.
A group including Kasia Niewiadoma, Olivia Baril and Marlen Reusser trailed by 25 seconds, but they managed to rejoin the front as Vollering wasn’t leading the pack. SD Worx then tried to leverage their numerical advantage. Reusser, second in the standings and 56 seconds behind, made a breakaway with 12 kilometres to go.
Van Vleuten, Niewiadoma and Baril were tasked with closing the gap, but it wasn’t easy. Reusser extended her lead to 25 seconds, then 40 seconds, then 56 seconds… And so, with five kilometres to go, the Swiss rider virtually took over the lead from Vollering in the standings. Reusser only increased her lead and thus secured both the stage and overall victory in Itzulia.
In the group featuring Vollering and Van Vleuten, there was even a standstill in the final kilometre, allowing a group including Marta Cavalli to catch up. But in the ensuing sprint – a good 2.5 minutes after Reusser crossed the finish line – Vollering lived up to her favourite’s role, ensuring SD Worx secured another one-two finish, in both the stage and the final standings.
2023 Itzulia Women Stage 3 result
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