Yurani Blanco takes first win at GP Ciudad de Eibar

Yurani-Blanco-2024-GP-de-Eibar-finish

Yurani Blanco of Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi celebrated her first professional victory in a dramatic edition of the GP Ciudad de Eibar. The Spanish rider executed a perfect climb to Arrate, outpacing her competitors in the final kilometres of the 116.4 km race. Blanco’s teammate Usoa Ostolaza secured second place, completing a memorable one-two finish for the team, while New Zealand’s Henrietta Christie of Human Powered Health rounded off the podium in third.

After numerous attacks, Yuliia Biriukova of Human Powered Health broke away at kilometre 22. Her lead extended to two minutes as the peloton gradually lost riders. However, Movistar’s aggressive strategy saw Olivia Baril and Floortje Mackaij bridging to an intermediate position.

The peloton soon sped up, breaking the race apart on an uncategorised climb and catching all the escapees. Biriukova’s 51-kilometre solo effort ended, setting the stage for further attacks. A group of 25 riders, including all the favourites, formed and then splintered again, with 11 riders gaining a 30-second advantage.

Decisive breakaway

With 19 kilometres to go, the two groups merged, but the attacks quickly resumed. Five riders managed to break free, creating a decisive move. The lead group included Floortje Mackaij, Yurani Blanco, Henrietta Christie, Awen Roberts of Canyon SRAM Generation, and Giorgia Vettorello of Roland. This quintet established a 40-second lead as they approached the final climb to Arrate.

The race reached its critical moment on the final ascent. Christie increased the tempo, causing Blanco and Vettorello to fall behind. Blanco, however, did not panic and rejoined shortly after. Another attack by Mackaij broke the group again, leaving Roberts behind. Blanco, finding her rhythm, closed the gap once more, rejoining the front at 1.8 km to go, only to lose contact again.

At 1.2 km from the finish, Christie launched a powerful acceleration, with Mackaij unable to keep up. Blanco, determined, passed Mackaij in pursuit of Christie. With 300 metres remaining, Blanco caught Christie and launched her final attack. Blanco’s strength saw her secure the victory, with some of the favourites in the distance. Usoa Ostolaza managed to bridge up to Christie, finishing second to complete a remarkable one-two for Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi. Christie finished third, six seconds behind Blanco.

Blanco’s emotional victory

“This victory means a lot because I have been racing in Euskadi for many years,” said an emotional Blanco. “I’ve grown and developed in Basque teams, and I’ve always dreamed of winning a professional race here. I am very grateful to the team for believing in me, and I felt I owed them a victory. We tried to play our cards right. I got into the breakaway, was on the limit because I had spent a lot, but I knew the climb well. I had a lot of desire to do well and wanted to repay the team’s confidence with a win.”

Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi displayed exceptional teamwork throughout the race. The team took charge early on, ensuring Blanco had the best chance to contest for the win. “We are very happy,” said Ion Lazkano, the team’s sports director. “This race was a key target for us. The race was chaotic, but we aimed to control it from the front. Yurani got into a breakaway that gave her a 50-second lead at the start of the final climb. She had great legs to secure the victory. And Usoa did a tremendous job coming from behind.”

Christie showcased her climbing abilities, positioning herself well for the final ascent with support from her Human Powered Health teammates. “It’s my first podium in Europe so I’m pretty ecstatic,” Christie said. “Krista controlled on the first climb, and a small attack with Yuliia (Biriukova) in it put us in a great position. Up the final climb, my teammates were cheering for me on the radio, which gave me so much motivation.”

Blanco’s victory not only marks her first professional win but also highlights a strong month of performances, including a top ten finish in the Navarra classic and a solid showing in the Itzulia. Mireia Benito of the Spanish national team also impressed, finishing fourth after a strong climb to Arrate.

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