Home Sports Van Vleuten conquers La Vuelta in the Lakes of Covadonga

Van Vleuten conquers La Vuelta in the Lakes of Covadonga

Van Vleuten conquers La Vuelta in the Lakes of Covadonga

An iconic cycling climb that put the final climax to La Vuelta a España Femenina, the first ever, and that exalted Annemiek van Vleuten, the Dutch from Movistar who was crowned in the Lakes of Covadonga. An emblematic port at whose foot Miguel Indurain got off his bike forever in 1996. A peak where Primoz Roglic, Nairo Quitana, Laurent Jalabert, Lucho Herrera, Pedro Delgado… raised their arms. In fact, in this 2023 it will be 40 years since Marino Lejarreta triumphed at the Asturian summit, quite a discovery that has always been linked to the race (22 appearances). For women’s cycling, in general, and La Vuelta, in particular, it meant crossing another frontier, increasing the mysticism and the epic. A peak called ‘Estela Domínguez’who died this year while training and whose name will always be linked to the highest point of each Vuelta.

Van Vleuten cemented a large part of his victory in the previous day, in the Cantabrian lands that he knows so well, and in a day not without controversy. SD Worx accused Movistar of attacking when the leader at the time, Vollering, stopped to urinate. From the Spanish team they argued that the movement was already planned and that the rivals did not choose the best moment to stop. “Thirst for revenge,” Vollering said of what happened. A revenge that could not be consummated. It was a duel of a high level, tension. Starting in Pola de Serio, 93 kilometers was the menu to finish the seventh and final stage of La Vuelta. La Collada Moandi, a second-category ascent halfway through the stage, selected the stage… and in what way. With the rhythm of SD Worx and Trek (by Gaia Realini), only 18 riders remained in the lead, Van Vleuten being the only one from Movistar.

Kasia Niewiadoma and Marlen Reusser launched into the descent and managed to open a gap. hThere was a break between the favorites and the leading duo managed more than a minute of rent. This caused more people to enter from behind and Movistar regrouped, being able to wrap up their leader Annemiek to the foot of the port. Everything in order until Cangas de Onís… the colossus began: 12.5 km at 6.9% and 15% on average. For the 23rd, the ascent began in a Vuelta, the first in girls. One by one they were staying runners. Vollering took the initiative, with his prolonged attacks and without getting up. Eight remained. Then there were four… each one looking for its own rhythm, until the three strongest in the race were in the lead: Vollering, Realini and Van Vleuten. They passed La Huesera, one of the hardest points and went 5.3 km, reaching the Mirador de la Reina, when Realini launched his attack after overcoming a mechanical mishap.

He went with Vollering and Van Vleuten did not follow his wheel. He couldn’t keep up with the two rivals of his. Just like on the way to Laredo, Galiani did not relieve his partner. Ten seconds, twenty, forty… the seconds fell, Van Vleuten resisted (he had 1:11 rent) and, after passing the Lakes area, faced the final 500 meters as if there was no tomorrow. Vollering raised his arms in the thick fog, Realini entered from behind and the timer was set for Annemiek’s arrival. It saved him: just for nine seconds! A final climax full of emotion to end a pioneering Women’s Tour. Celebration at Movistar with a Van Vleuten who, at 40 years old and in her last professional season, will leave, at the very least, having won La Vuelta, his first win in the rainbow jersey. A legend.

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