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Double top 10 with Juliette Labous 5th and Floortje Mackaij 8th over the climbs in Itzulia

Race report

Itzulia Women

After yesterday’s opening stage, the peloton was faced with a similarly challenging stage at Itzulia Women today that included over 2000 metres of climbing throughout the 118 kilometre route. From the start a fast pace was set and the bunch blew to bits over the opening ascents, with all Team DSM riders making it into the front split of around 50. Unfortunately however, Francesca Barale was involved in a crash and stopped the race.

Eventually things calmed down and a breakaway formed out front, but they were never given too large a gap. Heading onto the final categorised climb with just over 20 kilometres to go it was all back together and the high pace returned. Riding well as a group, the team followed early attacks before it became a race of attrition as riders had to drop one-by-one. Fresh off the announcement of her renewed contract, Juliette Labous rode strongly to make it into a front split of five over the climb; forming the group that would go on to fight for the stage win.

Meanwhile, Liane Lippert, Floortje Mackaij and Esmée Peperkamp fought brilliantly together to return to the small chasing group behind Labous. Heading into the finale, Labous dug as deep as she could on the punchy uphill finish claiming a fine fifth place while Mackaij showed a good turn of speed to take eighth; making for a double top ten finish on the day for the team.

“It was a hard and warm day today, and everybody did a good job,” explained Labous. “Esmée and Léa did strong work by following the attacks and also positioning us the whole stage. Unfortunately, Francesca crashed out of the race but she was really strong so we are proud of her. On the long hard climb it was very tough and I had to ride at my own pace but made it to the front group on the top. Then Vollering attacked and I was able to go with it and it turned out to be the winning move; I am really happy about the legs I had there to go with it and it gives me more confidence. In the final the cooperation was not good so we lost some time and I had the early stages of cramp in one of my legs so I dropped before the last steep part but I gave my all to finish with the other four. Of course, I would have preferred to be on the podium after everyone’s hard work but I just missed that little bit and my body is getting used to the heat also, so I think it will get better. We’re all looking forward to another hard day tomorrow!”

Team DSM coach Huub Duijn added: “It was a tough stage today, with a lot of hard climbs during the race and the heat was also a factor too. In the beginning, Léa and later Esmée did a good job to focus on the strong breakaways but nothing really stuck there. Unfortunately, we then lost Francesca in a crash but she is doing okay. Eventually a group got away with no dangerous riders so we then focused on being in position on the final climb, and that’s where the race exploded. On the top we had Juliette in front with four others. She tried to attack in the last kilometres, but got reeled back again and in the end they sprinted to victory, where she ended up a nice fifth.”


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