Demi Vollering launched into the race lead on the opening stage of the 2023 Itzulia Women. The Dutch star rode away on the final Urkaregi climb and descended strongly in the wet to arrive solo at the finish line in Markina-Xemein. For Vollering, it’s the 4th stage win in a row in the Basque Country after winning all 3 stages in last year’s race.
The opening attacks of the day say Miryam Nunez attack over and over but as the live coverage started Anna Kiesenhofer went off the front and was quickly joined by Aurela Nerlo of Massi-Tactic. The pair built up a gap of nearly a minute but it was under control by the peloton who clawed them back with 15 kilometres to go.
That was near enough to the base of Urkaregi and we had another battle between the heavyweights set to happen. But by going early, Vollering caught her rivals off-guard. Van Vleuten and Niewiadoma tried gamefully to catch but with Marlen Reusser on their wheel were unable to get back on level terms. The gap increased and increased and the stage looked set already. Behind, Olivia Baril joined the front group on her home roads.
With the gap at 45 seconds by the summit, Demi Vollering had to negotiate a tricky, technical descent in the rain with cold hands. She still managed to pull out more time over her chasers. Van Vleuten dropped from the chasers and would finish slightly behind the others. By the finish, Marlen Reusser finished 2nd 47″ behind her teammate. Kasia Niewiadoma was 3rd and Van Vleuten 4th at 51″ back already.
The end of the stage ended on a sad note, however. A police car escorting an ambulance was allowed on the course and on the final descent Eider Merino met them head-on. She has gone to the hospital with injuries to her left leg and arm. She wasn’t the only one, Freya Rawlins of Soltec has a fractured elbow as a result of the incident as well.
“I was very cold, but that was true for everyone. On the climbs, I felt good, but for the rest, it was mostly wet and cold today. The conditions were an opponent in themselves. Hopefully, it will be a little drier in the coming days, but it seems to be staying rainy for the next few days. Hopefully, we stay fit. In the past few days, we had already reconnoitred this climb.
As a result, we knew that it suited me. My goal was to start as early as possible and to gain as much time as possible. The team did a good job, up to the foot of the climb. That was very nice.”Demi Vollering
2023 Itzulia Women Stage 1 result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com