In a nail-biting finish to the team time trial that kicked off La Vuelta Femenina, Lidl-Trek narrowly secured victory, despite a crash in the final moments of the race. The 16-kilometre course, starting and finishing in Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, saw the team edge out their closest rivals, Visma | Lease a Bike and SD Worx-Protime, by mere fractions of a second.

The race unfolded under Valencia’s sun with teams tackling a straightforward out-and-back route along the city’s major thoroughfares. Early benchmarks were set by teams like Coop-Repsol and EF Education-Cannondale, but as the stronger WorldTeams took to the course, the times quickly tumbled. Visma | Lease a Bike initially posted the fastest time of the day, only to be bested by the formidable squad of Lidl-Trek, which included powerhouse Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini.

Disaster struck for Lidl-Trek in the closing stages when Van Dijk and teammate Elynor Bäckstedt crashed on the final turn, threatening their lead. Despite this, the team regrouped rapidly, losing precious seconds but still crossing the line fast enough to clinch victory by a mere nine-hundredths of a second over Visma | Lease a Bike, with SD Worx-Protime finishing just over a second behind in third.

(Photo Credit: Getty)

Riejanne Markus, the captain of Visma | Lease a Bike, reflected on the day’s events: “The margins were incredibly tight, and without the crash, Lidl-Trek might have had a more comfortable win. Still, our performance was strong, and this gives us good momentum and confidence for the stages to come.” Team director Jos van Emden echoed these sentiments, noting minor mistakes that could have turned the tide of the race but acknowledged the strength of the winning team.

SD Worx-Protime also lamented the missed opportunity to capitalise on Lidl-Trek’s misfortune, with team director Danny Stam pointing out that the crash had indeed narrowed the time gaps. “We gained some time back in those final moments, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit,” Stam explained.

The victorious team celebrated their resilience, particularly praising Gaia Realini, who was the first across the line for Lidl-Trek, securing the leader’s jersey. “It was a challenging day with the crash, but securing the win means a lot to us. It sets a positive tone for the rest of the tour,” said an exuberant Realini after the race.

Despite the day’s trials, Lidl-Trek’s performance underscored their capability and determination, setting up an intriguing battle for the general classification in the stages that lie ahead in the Spanish roads of La Vuelta Femenina.

2024 Vuelta Femenina Stage 1 result

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Main photo credit: Cor Vos