Itzula Women History
The Itzulia Women took over as one of the major Spanish stage races once Emakumeen Bira closed its doors and was able to get off the ground in 2022 straight into the Women’s WorldTour. That was largely in part due to the race being an expanded version of the Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa which took place on either side of Covid. That race is now in effect the 3rd stage of Itzulia Women although the final climb of the Tontorra appears to have been removed for this year’s race after being in last year’s version.
The 2022 race was absolutely dominated by Demi Vollering. The Dutch rider took 3 stages and the GC, mostly by just a few seconds but the bonuses available made the final standings look a bit more distant than they were. The other riders here will be worried about a repeat with Vollering the major in-form rider of the peloton at the moment and capable of doing an exact repeat.
Itzulia Women 2023 Profiles
Stage 1 Profile
Stage 2 Profile
Stage 3 Profile
Itzulia Women 2023 Contenders
After losing the Vuelta Femenina by 9 seconds Demi Vollering will be out for revenge in a race she won all 3 stages and the GC in last season. Not winning in Spain last week aside, Vollering is still the strongest rider and showed that on the final stage’s climb. She will remain the favourite. Her teammate Niamh Fisher-Black is another who felt a bit hard done by at the Vuelta Femenina, 20th in GC rather hid what she might’ve done. She’ll be teeing up Vollering at Itzulia Women but the Kiwi will still have a chance to retain her youth jersey from last season.
Canyon SRAM comes into Itzulia Women with some strong options.
Ricarda Bauernfeind finished 5th in GC at the Vuelta Femenina, including 3rd on a stage. She might end up having a better shot than Kasia Niewiadoma here after she finished 10th in GC there. The Pole had stomach issues during the race and without those, could have a shot at a better finishing position. Last year though, it was Pauliena Rooijakkers who was the closest to winner Demi Vollering and whilst we haven’t seen a result like that so far in 2023, we’re approaching the same part of the 2022 season where Rooijakkers looked so good.
FDJ-Suez will have a pair of options in Marta Cavalli and Evita Muzic. The latter is in particularly strong form at the moment after finishing 6th in Spain last week. There’s an outside chance of a stage win here provided the dominance of SD Worx can be broken. Marta Cavalli continues to trend upwards after 13th at Vuelta Femenina. She was 4th in last year’s Itzulia Women and whilst that feels like a long shot at the moment, she’s not far away either.
Annemiek van Vleuten managed to win the Vuelta Femenina with some street smarts despite not being the strongest rider in the race. It’ll be interesting to see if she pulls off the same trick this weekend at Itzulia Women. The form compared to where she was a month ago is vastly improved and she will be in the hunt. Teammate Liane Lippert might have a better shout at some of these stages and did a fantastic job in the teammate role to ensure her leader won. 21st in GC at the Vuelta was not a fair reflection of the amount of work she put in. For a rider who went into the Vuelta saying she wasn’t going to sprint, Emma Norsgaard did remarkably well with finishes of 2nd and 5th place. There will be few opportunities here, but maybe one stage will be a sprint finish.
10th here in GC was Veronica Ewers, who quietly had a decent Vuelta Femenina after a quiet 2023 season so far. She took a famous win this part of the season last year and may slowly be coming in form with later goals like the Giro and Tour in mind. Teammate Krista Doebel-Hickok also has a chance, finishing 12th here last year. She’s been very quiet since a good start to the year in Australia but has been posting power PBs on social media in recent weeks, which may translate to racing.
The rider sandwiched between the EF riders last year was Olivia Baril. The Canadian was looking set for a very strong GC result last week until the final stage and climb were just one day too far and she slipped out of the top-10. Itzulia Women will be a race she is targeting though, basing herself in Donostia making this her local race.
Teammate Erica Magnaldi is in good form though, whilst Baril slipped out of the top-10, Magnaldi finished 8th. Her 2nd place at GP Féminin de Chambéry is encouraging that a similar parcours here will lead to a strong result.
After winning reVolta, there were high hopes going into the Vuelta Femenina for Claire Steels but it didn’t quite work out for the Brit. She lost time in the team time trial, plus got caught out in the crosswinds stage and lost further time. From a slow start, 15th in GC was actually quite a good finish. With a fresh start at Itzulia Women, there’s a chance for the Brit to have a good top-10 GC finish her.
5th at reVolta, the Vuelta Femenina was a quieter affair for Laboral Kutxa’s Yurani Blanco, although she did get into breaks that don’t always transfer to the results sheet. Probably not a full GC hope, Blanco has a got a shout at impressing on a stage and seeing where that leads.
The injury-hit Ceratizit-WNT pair of
Nadine Gill and Sandra Alonso are on the startlist and represent a decent chance if fit. It feels like a long time since Gill was 9th at Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almería this year but she has always been a threat in Spain after her time at Sopela. Alonso might have a shot on Stage 2 as well at her best. She was 5th herself back at Almeria but at least has a more recent top-10 with 7th at Tour de Normandie Féminin in mid-March before her injury at Paris Roubaix Femmes.
The winner at GP della Liberazione PINK recently is BePink’s Silvia Zanardi. She did the Vuelta but only had a best result of 11th on Stage 2. She’s also a good threat in lumpy races with a sprint finish rather than a pure sprint, Stage 2 at Itzulia Women represents her best shot with the climbing on Stage 3 probably too tough if there’s a GC battle.
Itzulia Women 2023 Outsiders
When it comes to climbing, Jumbo-Visma’s Kim Cadzow certainly has plenty of potential. The challenge for the Kiwi here is being able to move to the front from the safety of the back of the bunch at the key moments to deliver that. Stage 1 in particular has a tough finish that should give her a chance and whilst Stage 3 has the tough climbs, the distance from them to the finish probably removes a major chance there.
The return to racing of Margaux Vigie should be a chance for Lifeplus-Wahoo. Between her, Ella Harris and Ella Wyllie there should be plenty of opportunities. VIgie has been consistently the best on short punchy climbs this season with a reasonable kick at the end as well. That could put her in contention for any of the stages. That similar all-round profile can be found with Ella Harris, who at her best could have fun on Stage 1’s punchy climb and drop to the finish. Ella Wyllie has been a little quieter in the European races but 8th back at the Tour Down Under is an example of what she can do.
I thought Aranza Villalón might get some joy at the Vuelta Femenina and we saw her get in a break that took the intermediate sprint on Stage 4. There was little joy for the Conti teams though across the whole race. It might be the same at another WWT race but the Chilean will have another shot to replicate what she does at non-WWT level.