Pauliena Rooijakkers continued her strong climbing form when she finished fourth in today’s second stage of Itzulia Women in Mallabia, Spain. The CANYON//SRAM Racing rider was in a five-rider leading group after the sixth and final climb on the 118km stage. After trying a late attack with one kilometre remaining, Pauliena was reeled in and finished fourth on the stage.
Behind Pauliena, teammate Elise Chabbey, who had collected maximum points on four of the mountain classifications today, sprinted from her group to take seventh place on the stage.
“On the last climb I felt good,” said Pauliena after the finish.
“Demi (Vollering) attacked a couple of times which split the group. When we were just five riders at the front of the race, I hoped we could take more advantage of that situation but the group didn’t ride well together. The second group almost came back to us. I tried to keep the speed in our group and go for an early attack because I know explosiveness isn’t my strength. The others came back onto my wheel and then I did my best to fight all the way to the finish line.”
Elise said she will enjoy wearing the mountain classification jersey tomorrow.
“I had some points after stage one and it’s always nice to wear a leader’s jersey so I went for the first climbs today. The priority is to keep Pauliena on the GC and even take the win if we can, but if we can do that and keep the mountain jersey then it will be a nice bonus for the team.”
Elise continued, “Pauliena showed yesterday and again today that she is super strong and is up there as one of the best climbers. I’m proud of how she improved in her descending also. I’m confident Pauliena can do well again tomorrow. As a team, we need to be more active and try different things.”
Asked about her seventh place on the stage, Elise commented, “After the last climb, I came back to a group in the downhill. It was a finish that suits me quite well. I was a bit stuck in the final metres of the sprint but it’s good to go for the best place possible and I’m happy with how I did in this tough uphill finish.”
Before tomorrow’s final stage, Pauliena holds second on the overall, +22 seconds from stage winner and tour leader, Vollering (SDW). Pauliena is second in the points classification while Elise leads the mountain classification by 9 points.
“Tomorrow, I know the roads better and I hope we can have a group until the last climb. It’s long and steep. I’ll give my everything tomorrow and we will see what happens,” adds Pauliena.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Itzulia Women can be followed on Twitter with #ItzuliaWomen. The tour is broadcast on EITB, GCN+ and Eurosport, with timings found below.
Stage 3 | Sunday 15 May | 139.8km | San Sebastian – San Sebastian Donostia Klasikoa | Race start 09:12CEST | Broadcast 12:30-14:00CEST.