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Riejanne Markus takes solo win at Navarra Women’s Elite Classic

In a dazzling display of athleticism, Dutch cyclist Riejanne Markus clinched the Navarra Women’s Elite Classic title. After a gruelling, hilly race from and to Pamplona, Markus emerged victorious, outpacing rivals Tamara Dronova and Ella Wyllie, who secured second and third places respectively.

The Navarra Women’s Elite Classic, a strenuous single-day Spanish race, is a relatively new addition to the calendar. This challenging event sees cyclists cover a distance of 135.8 kilometres around Pamplona, with only two previous editions having taken place. Previous winners include Arlenis Sierra and Veronica Ewers, further raising the prestige of the competition. The race had a good startlist, with notable riders like Vuelta Femenina 4th place finisher Riejanne Markus, Floortje Mackaij and Karlijn Swinkels on the start line.

Another Dutch contender, Mareille Meijering, caught the eye of spectators as she raced in Movistar’s colours for the first time since leaving Zaaf Cycling. Meijering quickly demonstrated her mettle, featuring in an early breakaway group of fifteen riders that included compatriot Swinkels.

The intense hilly sections of the race fractured the leading pack. Swinkels, Meijering, Elena Pirrone and Ella Harris were the only ones able to survive the punishing climbs. This resilient quartet worked effectively in unison, maintaining their lead well into the race. They entered the final 30-kilometre stretch with a lead of two and a half minutes.

However, this lead proved insufficient. With numerous climbs to overcome in the race’s closing stages, the leading group was inevitably caught up approximately twenty kilometres from the finish line. This wasn’t helped by a team order that saw Mareille Meijering stop working with the break, causing it to attack, stop and lose time to the chasers in a quick fashion. With just eleven kilometres to go, another Dutch rider launched her attack. RIejanne Markus surged ahead on a challenging stretch, and no one could keep up.

The Jumbo-Visma rider swiftly opened up a lead of several seconds and continued to push hard. Showing impressive strength and determination, Markus held on to cross the finish line first in Pamplona. Dronova and Wyllie followed in second and third, the former being in no man’s land between Markus and the chasing group. Her 2nd place will have a big impact on the Women’s WorldTour promotion/relegation standings as well. Ella Harris, who had been impressive all race finished 8th, but her joy at seeing teammate and New Zealand compatriot Wyllie finishing 3rd was clear at the podium ceremony.

“The fact that Karlijn was in the lead group at the beginning of the race was a perfect situation for us. The other teams had to close the gap to the front. And that’s what they did. I knew there was a chance I could put the others in trouble, so I decided to go for it. In the end, I was alone on the steep part. I am very proud that I was able to ride solo to the finish.”

Riejanne Markus

Navarra Elite Classics 2023 result

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Main photo credit: Cor Vos