The 126km long queen stage commenced today in Agost, in the region of Alicante. After contesting the intermediate sprint, the peloton faced the Alto de la Carrasqueta, a second-category climb, before heading up the ramps of the very steep Alto de Benifallim (1st cat.) followed by the ascent of the Alto de Tudons (1st cat). The field rode 30km later into the finishing town of Finestrat.
With around 60km of racing remaining, Marlen Reusser launched an attack from the main field and rode solo at the head of the race. The gap remained around 1:30 minutes for most of her time at the front. Behind the Swiss champion, the chase was well underway, as the field had split into several groups, and 20km later, van der Breggen launched an attack, and eventually overtook Marlen. However, the Dutch rider was followed by Clara Koppenburg and Demi Vollering, who attempted to bridge the gap. In the end, their efforts were not enough to make the catch, with Clara and Marlen crossing the finish line in third and fourth place respectively after this incredibly demanding day in the saddle. Bigla – KATUSHA also leads the team classification, and fielded four riders in the top 10 today.
After the stage, Clara commented: “This was a tough stage, but the team pulled together really well, and it was amazing to see how everyone worked together. Marlen put in a solo attack, which was very impressive. On the last climb, van der Breggen made a move, and I was able to follow with Vollering. We tried our best to catch her, but she was too strong. Overall, I’m really proud of the team, and we’ll keep fighting over the next two days here in Spain.”
Team manager Thomas Campana said: “We tried to defend the leader’s jersey with Emma today, however we didn’t know how far she will survive on the climbs. Once she was dropped, we decided to take over the race with our climbers. We’re well aware of van der Breggen’s presence in the race, and her strength on the climbs. We anticipated her tactics, and so we sent Marlen up the road, which forced Boels to counter this move, and this went according to plan. Clara was to be ready in this group, but unfortunately she wasn’t right behind van der Breggen at the time of her attack, so her reaction was not as fast as it could have been. But I’m really satisfied with the team’s strong performance today. Four of our riders finished in the top ten on the queen stage, and we still lead the team classification. We’re in a good position in the general classification for the upcoming stages.”