Elisa Balsamo off the mark in 2024 with victory in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana

The Setmana Ciclista Valenciana kicked off with Elisa Balsamo seizing victory. After early escapee Victoire Berteau was reeled in during the last moments of the opening stage, it boiled down to a sprint, with the Italian proving to be the fastest. Marianne Vos, returning after surgery on her femoral artery in August 2023, secured second place.

The opening leg of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana began with a 115-kilometre journey from Tavernes De La Valldigna to Gandia. While the initial part of the stage was relatively flat, the last thirty kilometres presented two hurdles. First, the Alto de Barxeta (2 km at 5%), followed by the Alto de Barx (6.4 km at 4.8%). Upon reaching the summit of the final climb, there remained about fifteen kilometres to the finish line.

Early in the race, Marjolein van ’t Geloof took a solo lead, establishing a gap of one minute and forty-five seconds ahead of the peloton. Another Dutch rider, Laura Molenaar, attempted to bridge the gap to her compatriot but eventually succeeded, resulting in two leaders.

However, the dynamics quickly shifted again as Anneke Dijkstra and French champion Victoire Berteau broke away, leaving Molenaar behind. Despite efforts from Daniela Campos to join them, she remained behind and eventually fell back into the peloton.

Dijkstra and Berteau managed to build a significant lead, with over four minutes thirty kilometres from the finish line. However, as they approached the Alto de Barx, their advantage dwindled, with Lidl-Trek leading the chase. Berteau made a solo move just before the summit, leaving Dijkstra behind to embark on a lone effort.

Although Dijkstra fought valiantly, she couldn’t regain contact with Berteau. Meanwhile, teams like Visma | Lease a Bike, Lidl-Trek, and SD Worx worked tirelessly to reel in the Frenchwoman. Berteau held on admirably, but her adventure ended as they entered the final kilometre, setting the stage for a sprint finish.

In the sprint, Elisa Balsamo launched her move from a distance, but she maintained her effort, securing a convincing victory. Marianne Vos made a late charge in the final metres but settled for second place, ahead of Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi winner Noemi Rüegg. For Vos, this result signifies a positive comeback following her surgery.

Reflecting on her victory, Balsamo attributed it to teamwork, expressing gratitude towards her teammates for their support. She highlighted the challenging finale and the absence of a clear lead-out, opting to follow the wheel of Marianne Vos, whom she considers the best in such situations.

Balsamo emphasised the importance of starting the season with a win, not only for confidence but also to validate their hard work. She looks forward to building on this success in the upcoming races.

2024 Setmana Ciclista Valenciana Stage 1 result

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

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