The Women’s WorldTour kicked off at Strada Bianche with Movistar Team Women and Bigla representing for Endura. The race is now in it’s fifth edition and it’s route took the riders over 136km of a demanding parcours which featured eight gravel sectors covering 32km on Italy’s famous white roads.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was part of the late race winning move which escaped with 20km to go. After a tough day in the saddle Uttrup Ludwig finished in fifth spot as Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) soloed to victory in the Piazza il Campo.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig:
The teamwork that we showed today was really great. My teammates were all ready to support me, particularly when I had a flat tire. Mikayla and Elise helped me to close the gap back to the field, and during this time, Leah worked to neutralise several attacks in the peloton. Today I had some bad luck, but that’s racing and you can’t do much about that. But today we were able to see that our team is strong and that we’re able to work together very well. Our hard work will surely be rewarded this season.
Hear from Bigla's riders and management on their aims for 2019 in our latest video
Movistar Team had a less fortunate day in Tuscany with punctures for Paula Patiño and most notably Aude Biannic -two flats for the French champion- combined with crashes for Lourdes Oyarbide and Gloria Rodríguez. Biannic was best place finisher in 15th spot in the women’s race with Nelson Oliveira the pick of the Blues in the men’s race in 25th.
Zaldibarko Emakumeen Saria
Spanish road race champion Eider Merino continued her preparations for the 2019 season with a win in the maiden edition of the Zaldibarko Emakumeen Saria in her native Basque Country. With the main contingent of Movistar Team in Italy for Strade Bianche, Eider was on her own for this race and forced the pace on the main climb of the day to force a selection before taking a narrow win in Zaldibar.
New Endura signing Ella Conolly got her 2019 season up and running with a second place at the NZ Enduro in New Zealand’s Malborough region. Three days of riding in stunning locations culminated in a helicopter shuttled final day on the fern clad Wakamarina track, the crown jewel of NZ’s native bush trails - which featured a particularly treacherous finishing line
GP Industria e Artigianato di Larciano,
Movistar Team’s men remained in Tuscany for Sunday’s GP Larciano, with Edu Prades and José Joaquín Rojas present in late break. Prades once again showed he's in great form with a gutsy performance and next appears at Tirreno-Adriatico which starts on Wednesday.
Eddie Soens Memorial
Matt Bottrill (Team Bottrill – Vanguard 2M) rolled back the years with a display of controlled power at the Aintree to win the Eddie Soens Memorial, a mere 21 years after winning there in the late 1990s. Matt uses his sublime time trialling technique to slice through the strong wind, going on to lap the entire field before leaving the shattered bunch behind again for a stunning win. Read our Renegade Stories article on Matt here