Breakaway yields outright lead in climbing classification for young American
After making it into yesterday’s Vuelta a Burgos breakaway and finishing level on mountains points with GC-leader Grace Brown (BikeExchange), Heidi Franz has now moved into the undisputed lead of the mountains classification after another powerful performance on stage 2.
Wearing the red jersey, ‘borrowed’ from Brown at the start of the day, Franz was able to infiltrate an escape move that saw her claim vital points over the day’s final climb. She now owns the red jersey outright and will pull it on for a second consecutive day.
“It feels amazing to be in the mountains jersey,” Franz said. “For myself as an all-around kind of rider, it gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I can use my strength in the breakaways to gain points up the road and really put myself in the bike race. I’m really proud to wear the jersey for the team as well and showcase that we belong in the WorldTour races.”
Franz explained how the move went away.
“The group formed around 35 kilometres into the race in a really strong headwind section, heading towards another short climb of about two kilometres. It was a really difficult section to start the breakaway in and I even thought, ‘Shoot! I don’t really want to be here, this is crazy…”
Eventually, Franz was caught by the peloton just two kilometres short of the line.
“I certainly started to believe that my first WorldTour podium was possible but alas the finish was two kilometres too far! But that’s the kind of racing that I love, and now I can believe in myself a bit more when the next opportunity comes.
It was a strong team performance all-round, with Clara Koppenburg and Krista Doebel-Hickok continuing to climb well, matching the efforts of the other general classification riders and coming home in the main group. They both sit five seconds down on new race leader Elise Chabbey (Canyon SRAM Racing) at 20th and 24th respectively.
With two categorised climbs tomorrow, it will be a challenge defending her lead into the final day’s racing, Sunday, and Franz will face some stern competition from the likes of Niamh Fisher-Black, just one point behind her.
Franz has other objectives too.
“My plan for the next two stages is to prioritize my teammates Krista and Clara in the GC, because I think they are both so strong and capable of a great result – especially with the mountain top finish that suits them much better than myself.”
Vuelta a Burgos mountains classification
1 FRANZ Heidi Rally Cycling 10 pts
2 FISHER-BLACK Niamh SD Worx 9pts
3 BROWN Grace BikeExchange 6pts
Vuelta a Burgos GC
1 CHABBEY Elise Canyon SRAM Racing 4:59:07
20 KOPPENBURG Clara Rally Cycling 0:05
24 DOEBEL-HICKOK Kristabel Rally Cycling 0:05