Setmana Ciclista Valenciana
Our Women’s WorldTour teams, Movistar Team Women and Bigla, got their stage racing seasons underway at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in southeastern Spain last week. If was a tale of fourths for Movistar Team as they emerged from four days of racing with an even tally of four fourth place finishes - Mavi Garcia opened up with a fourth lace finish on the first stage, followed by Eider Merino who climbed her way to fourth on Saturday’s summit finish at the Xorret de Cati, before Roxane Fournier sprinted her way to fourth in the messy sprint which concluded affairs on Sunday. To round out the collection of fourths, Eider successfully defended her GC spot to earn the final fourth.
We came here with a strong aim to do well, because it was the first race of the season for many of us. The key stage was yesterday with the Xorret de Catí climb, and even if I didn’t find myself doing as well as I expected, things turned out pretty well. We were a bit down yesterday, but it might come down to our desire to do well, our expectations way higher than most people want from us – we always want more. It’s a good fourth place, and as we say here in Spain when you get fourth, it’s been ‘chocolate medals’ everywhere (laughs). We wouldn’t have been able to match such an amount of fourths if we tried.
Bigla suffered a dose of bad luck during their race, with key riders caught up in crashes when well placed. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Leah Thomas were key animators on the opening day, forming part of the breakaway that decided the stage, but with Cecilie crashing late on the duo’s work went unrewarded. Uttrup Ludwig bounced back from another crash on the last day to hold on to a top ten finish on GC.
Both squads now turn their attention to a series of one day races, starting this weekend at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium.
Ruta del Sol
Carlos Barbero’s podium finish on the final stage of the Ruta del Sol in Alhaurín de la Torre after a lumpy 163km of racing was the pick of the team’s individual results over five stages in Andalucia. Héctor Carretero, the youngest member of Movistar Team at the race finished in a creditable 11th spot on GC after strong performances in both Friday’s TT and Saturday’s mountainous stage.
World Champion Alejandro Valverde continues to build up to his season’s targets with a trip to the Persian Gulf for the UAE Tour. After a creditable fifth place finish in the opening team time trial, won in an incredible average speed of 57 kph by Jumbo-Visma, the team survived today’s hectic crosswinds and will be looking forward to three mountain top finishes over the coming days.