With this year’s Itzulia Women, women’s racing in the Basque County has come full circle after quite a lot of change in recent years. We used to have the long-term staple of the Emakumeen Bira stage race which ran from 1988 to 2019. One of the major stage races, surprisingly given the climbing it was a race that neither Anna van der Breggen nor Annemiek van Vleuten ever actually won.
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Liege Bastogne Liege Femmes is another relatively new race on the women’s calendar. First held in 2017, it gives riders the chance to cover roads raced by the men’s peloton in one of their monuments. Although the race is called Liege Bastogne Liege still, the women’s race starts in Bastogne and before heading to Liege.
The women’s Amstel Gold Race returned last season. It was heavily altered, turned into a large circuit based around the Cauberg, the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg. The constant climbing was hoped to be attritional but ultimately we saw a reasonably large sprint after the Cauberg. Despite the attack of Niewiadoma, no-one would work with her and it proved fruitless. Vos took the sprint ahead of Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten.
The Women’s Gent Wevelgem has been running since 2012. Taking place on the same day as the men’s race, the women’s version starts from Ypres and finishes in Wevelgem. The route takes in the infamous Kemmelberg, although the women haven’t tackled the steepest Ossuary side until this year’s race.
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