In the Itzulia Women’s final stage, an exhilarating day of racing unfolded over 114.9km around Donostia, featuring iconic climbs such as Jaizkibel, Gurutze, and Mendizorrotz. A breakaway of 15 riders emerged just before the ascent of Jaizkibel, with the peloton showing restraint until this point.

Among those breaking away were notable riders like Eleonora Ciabocco, Blanka Vas, and Amanda Spratt, setting the stage for a gruelling contest. The lead group dwindled to 12 by the climb’s end, establishing a promising lead of 35 seconds by the summit.

The gap expanded impressively to 2:30 minutes with 52km remaining, placing Nosková, Spratt, Asencio, and Žigart in a favourable position in the general classification. However, the chase intensified, led by SD Worx-Protime and FDJ Suez, slicing the advantage to just 23 seconds at the base of the Mendizorrotz.

On the Mendizorrotz’s steepest sections, Spratt, Steels, Schrempf, and Van der Heijden managed a slight separation from their fellow escapees. The dynamics shifted dramatically when Vollering and Labous executed a successful bridge to the leaders, although they were unable to sustain the pace set by Vollering, who surged ahead to crest the climb solo.

Urska Zigart
(Photo credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

With 25km left to the finish, Vollering had extended her lead to 43 seconds over a chase group of nine, including Labous, Spratt, and Fisher-Black, among others. Despite a valiant effort by the chasers, Vollering’s lead swelled to nearly a minute, aided by tactical plays from her teammates, effectively sealing her victory.

Entering the final 2km, Vollering was already celebrating, having secured not only the stage win but also the neon-yellow leader’s jersey and victories in the mountain and points classifications. Her team, SD Worx-Protime, also clinched the team classification, while Ella Wyllie emerged as the best U23 rider.

At the finish, Vollering reflected on her strategy and the physical challenges she overcame: “It was a hard day for me because I had stomach problems today, but we had made a plan to attack on the last climb and try to stay away. If not, then I have Marlen in that group behind me and the rest of my teammates, then we could play the game, but I could stay away, and I am really happy with that. It feels good to do such a long solo,” she said. Vollering also expressed her affection for the race and her satisfaction with the team’s performance: “I always really liked this race, so I’m really happy I can win again. It’s amazing, we win every stage three years in a row, that’s incredible. It says something about what a strong team we are and how much we like these kinds of races, to always be very active and take it into our own hands. And I also like to work for my teammates, Mischa did really well the last two days, so I’m happy that we can do it like this as a team.”

The final podium saw Vollering crowned champion, with Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx-Protime) securing second and Juliette Labous (DSM-Firmenich PostNL) completing the top three. Labous shared her thoughts post-race: “The race was hard today, and Eleonora got into a nice group in front. The girls in the bunch did a really great job to position me in the best possible spot for the steep climb. I followed Vollering for a long time but I dropped before the top. In the end, it came back together for second place on the stage but I’m really happy to finish on the podium of the general classification and I’m thankful for the work of everyone this week. Now I’m looking forward to some rest and then training to prepare for the summer goals.”

2024 Itzulia Women Stage 3 result

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2024 Itzulia Women GC result

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Main photo credit: Getty