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Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij take 2nd and 5th after all-out racing in Spain

The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta headed to the mountains again today with a tough 108 kilometre route from Estación Invernal Cabeza de Manzaneda to Pereiro de Aguiar to contend with, featuring two hard categorised climbs but also several challenging uncategorised climbs as well.

It was a fast start to the day with numerous attacks where unfortunately Juliette Labous abandoned the race after a crash, with Coryn Rivera steeping off the bike too after digging deep for the team. The high pace continued over the climbs as the peloton thinned dramatically, with Floortje Mackaij and Liane Lippert riding brilliantly to make a chasing group of eight that set off in pursuit of lone leader Van Vleuten, after some great work by Leah Kirchmann over the testing terrain.

Ahead, Van Vleuten would extend her lead and ultimately go on to take the stage win while in the chasing group, Mackaij and Lippert worked well together, riding smartly and not going too deep too early. Approaching the final few kilometres it became tactical in the group as riders attacked and were brought back. Sensing their moment, Lippert and Mackaij attacked, going clear alongside two others. Mackaij then buried herself on the front, leading out the quartet before Lippert repaid the work with a very punchy sprint to take a great second place on the line, with Mackaij holding on for fifth behind. As a result of the stage, Lippert moves up to fifth place on GC for the team with Mackaij in ninth ahead of tomorrow’s final day of racing.

“It was a really hard stage from the beginning,” explained Lippert. “Unfortunately, there was a big crash at the start of the stage and Juliette was caught up in it and had to leave the race. Coryn also didn’t have a good day today, so she did a really good job of covering the attacks earlier in the stage before she also had to let go of the peloton. It was then me, Leah and Floortje left in the bunch. I think we did a really good job following the attacks on the climbs and Leah was focusing on the early attacks and positioning us, especially for the tough descent where the race exploded. Afterwards there was a long climb of 15 kilometres, where Floortje and I were in a chasing group behind Van Vleuten. There we played it smart and did our turns but saved energy when we could. In the final Floortje did an amazing job and she attacked in the final two kilometres. We got away with four riders, and Floortje just went all out to set it up. Longo Borghini started her sprint early so I followed and then managed to pass her on the uphill sprint which suits me well. It’s really nice to be able to do a good sprint like that after a hard day. It’s sad to lose Juliette and Coryn, but I think we showed how strong we are, the three of us, and I think we can still make a nice last stage tomorrow.”


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