Wollaston clinches victory in Catalunya opener as Vos protests finish

Ally Wollaston of AG Insurance-Soudal out-sprinted Marianne Vos to claim the opening stage of the 2024 Volta a Catalunya Femenina, taking a surprising victory in the bunch sprint. Vos, however, expressed her frustration at the finish, alleging that Wollaston deviated from her line in the final 100 metres, impeding her sprint. The race jury reviewed the incident but decided not to penalise Wollaston, confirming her as the stage winner and the first leader in the general classification.

The second edition of the Volta a Catalunya Femenina started with a 100-kilometre stage around Manresa, located just an hour northwest of Barcelona. The route featured a gradual ascent for the first 45 kilometres up to the Col de Pinos, followed by a descent and the final climb of Coll de Cal Pallarès (4.5 km at 3.5%). The peloton tackled these challenges under sunny skies, setting the stage for an intense finish.

Visma-Lease a Bike took control early in the race, with Riejanne Markus and Marianne Vos leading their efforts. Despite attempts by AG Insurance-Soudal to thin out the peloton on the Coll de Cal Pallarès, the race culminated in a sprint finish.

Vos, who was narrowly beaten to the line, openly protested against Wollaston’s manoeuvre. “After that, we were on the wrong side of the road, so we had to change our plan and do another preparation. Fortunately, we solved that well and my teammates brought me to the final kilometre. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it off,” said Vos, reflecting on the chaotic lead-up to the sprint.

The day’s stage saw a series of attacks and tactical moves. The first notable breakaway came from Mireia Trías of Massi Baix Ter, but she was reeled back in by the peloton with 38 kilometres to go. The intermediate sprint in Calef saw Kim LeCourt of AG Insurance-Soudal taking the points ahead of Grace Brown and Markus Riejanne.

On the final climb, Justin Ghekiere of AG Insurance-Soudal secured maximum points at the summit, strengthening her position in the mountain classification. The descent into Manresa was marked by a high pace, led by AG Insurance-Soudal, setting up the sprint finish.

The peloton was disrupted by a late solo attack from Anastasiya Kolesava with 3 kilometres to go, but the sprinters’ teams soon closed the gap, leading to the thrilling sprint finale.

Arlenis Sierra rounded off the podium, finishing third behind Wollaston and Vos. Vos remained optimistic despite the setback, stating, “Tomorrow is a climbing day and that’s where the classification will be decided. For me personally, it will be a difficult stage, but with Riejanne Markus, we have someone who has aspirations for the overall victory. In any case, we are going to have another shot at the stage victory.”

This year’s race marks the debut of the Volta a Catalunya Femenina as a UCI 2.1 stage event, previously known as reVolta, with the third and final stage concluding in Barcelona on Sunday.

2024 Volta a Catalunya Femenina 2024 Stage 1 result

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Main photo credit: Sprint Cycling Agency