Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) has continued her winning ways in Spain, winning her second consecutive stage of La Vuelta Femenina. Wearing the red leader's jersey, Vos was never in trouble on the climbs of stage 4, staying in the peloton and letting others close the gaps when the attacks flew on the final climb of the day and the descent that followed.
In the fast downhill sprint into Guadalajara, Vos launched her sprint perfectly to win the stage ahead of Emma Norsgaard (Movistar). Marlen Reusser (Team SD Worx) took third ahead of her teammate Blanka Vas.
“It was really nervous today. With the climbs coming up, all the teams wanted to be in front, and all the GC riders wanted to be there if a move would go. The breakaway got quite a big gap, then we took control, and the girls did a really good job of bringing that down. From then on, it was trying to stay in front and in control of the group. I want to thank my team for doing that so well and being there with me in the final,” Vos said.
On the plateau after the Alto de Horche, GC favourites Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team), and Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) were among the riders who attacked to anticipate a group sprint, but their moves came to naught.
“If those two go, you know it’s serious. But there was a lot of headwind that wasn’t in their favour, and we still had Amber Kraak and Riejanne Markus there. In the final, the attack of Reusser was really strong, and Dygert reacted on that,” Vos described the last kilometres.
With time bonifications for her stage victory, Vos extended her GC lead and is now 25 seconds ahead of Chloé Dygert (Canyon-SRAM) before the first mountaintop finish of the Vuelta Femenina on stage 5.
How it unfolded
The break of the day formed 44 km into the 133.1-kilometre stage and included Maryna Varenyk (Eneicat-CMTeam-Seguros Deportivos), Olympic Champion Anna Kiesenhofer (Israel-Premier Tech-Roland), Patricia Ortega (Massi-Tactic), and Tota Magalhães (Bizkaia Durango). Nora Jenčušová (BePink) tried to bridge to the front group on her own but never succeeded.
The break had a maximum advantage of 3 minutes, 45 seconds, but a succession of uncategorised climbs saw first Varenyk, then Kiesenhofer and finally Ortega be dropped, leaving only Magalhães in the lead while Team Jumbo-Visma steadily reduced the gap.
Andrea Alzate (Eneicat-CMTeam-Seguros Deportivos) attacked from the peloton and bridged to the front, taking Kiesenhofer with her, but the gap was down to less than 30 seconds by now, and they were caught soon after.
Georgia Williams (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) and Aranza Villalón (Eneicat-CMTeam-Seguros Deportivos) were the next to get away 33 km from the finish. Silke Smulders (Liv Racing TeqFind), Sigrid Ytterhus Haugset (Team Coop-Hitec Products) and Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka (Canyon-SRAM) bridged to the front duo, but this new breakaway was reeled in just before the start of the Alto de Horche.
Climbing at an average 4.9 percent for four kilometres and significantly steeper near the top, the climb saw Movistar take responsibility for the pace, trying to reduce the size of the group. Among others, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ) was dropped halfway up the climb.
Élise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) took the mountain points in the small town of Horche, and Van Vleuten attacked right after the mountain sprint, drawing Vollering out from the pack as well. Mavi García (Liv Racing TeqFind) bridged just before the rest of the peloton caught up to the attackers, and Liane Lippert (Movistar Team), Chabbey, Amber Kraak (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Niamh Fisher-Black (Team SD Worx) immediately launched a counter-attack.
This move was just as shortlived as the one that followed where Van Vleuten and Vollering were joined by Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Riejanne Markus (Team Jumbo-Visma). After a short lull, Canyon-SRAM’s Ricarda Bauernfeind attacked but did not get away – instead, Lippert countered and opened up a gap into the fast descent towards the finish.
Vollering went on a solo downhill chase, catching the German champion, but they were in turn reeled in by the reduced peloton with just under three kilometres to go.
Reusser made a late attempt through a roundabout 500 metres from the finish, but Dygert closed the gap with 300 metres to go. Vos launched her sprint soon afterwards with Norsgaard and Vas in her slipstream. Reusser narrowly held on to third place while Vos beat Norsgaard for the stage by a bike length.
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