Stage 5: The 2024 Vuelta Femenina’s First Decisive Mountain Test

Stage 5 of the 2024 Vuelta Femenina is set to be a pivotal day for the General Classification (GC) contenders, featuring the race’s first summit finish on the daunting Category 1 climb of the Alta del Fuerte Rapitan. Spanning 113.9 kilometres, this stage is not just a test of climbing ability but also of tactical calls, given its complex profile and strategic intermediate sprint. After Stage 4 saw the first real time gaps since the TTT, there is everything to play for.

The Route and Challenges

The stage boasts a total elevation gain of 1823 metres, indicating a day full of climbing. Before the peloton tackles the final ascent to the summit finish, they must first overcome the Category 2 climb of Alto del Monasterio de San Juan de la Pena. This earlier climb will serve as a critical warm-up and could potentially be used by teams to set a high pace and put pressure on their rivals.

2024_Vuelta_Espana_Femenina_Stage_5_Profile

Following this, the riders will encounter an intermediate sprint located strategically between the two major climbs. This sprint offers bonus seconds — 6, 4, and 2 — crucial for those looking to gain every possible advantage in the tight GC battle. The positioning of this sprint adds an extra layer of tactical depth to the stage, as teams must decide whether to contest the sprint or conserve energy for the final climb.

The Final Climb: Alto del Fuerte Rapitan

The Alto del Fuerte Rapitan is where the stage is expected to reach its climax. This Category 1 climb is not just a physical challenge but a mental one as well, with riders needing to gauge their efforts carefully. The climb’s steep gradients will be a perfect launchpad for climbers to attack and could very well create significant time gaps in the GC.

Contenders for the Stage Win

The stage is likely to be contested by some of the strongest climbers in women’s cycling. Demi Vollering, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Niamh Fisher-Black are among the top favourites, known for their prowess in tough mountain stages. Kasia Niewiadoma and Juliette Labous, both skilled climbers, also stand a good chance to make an impact. Additionally, young talents like Gaia Realini and Riejanne Markus have shown they can compete with the best and will be eager to leave their mark.

Mavi Garcia and Evita Muzic, known for their aggressive riding styles, could potentially make a surprise move and upset the more established names. Meanwhile, riders like Kristen Faulkner, Erica Magnaldi, and Grace Brown, though considered outsiders, have the ability to shine on such a challenging stage. Antonia Niedermaier, Ricarda Bauernfeind, Kim Cadzow, and Nienke Vinke, while having a smaller chance of success, could seize the opportunity for a breakthrough performance or support their team leaders in crucial moments.

Conclusion

Stage 5 of the 2024 Vuelta Femenina is shaping up to be a thrilling and potentially decisive day in the mountains. With its challenging climbs, tactical intermediate sprint, and summit finish, it promises to be a true test of both physical endurance and strategic racing. As the riders face these steep ascents, the battle for the red jersey will intensify, setting the stage for a dramatic shift in the GC standings. Fans can expect a day of fierce competition and possibly game-changing moves in the fight for overall victory.

Photo credits: Unipublic|Alex Berasategi