Lorena Wiebes wins the first stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta

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Lorena Wiebes missed out on a victory salute when she won Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne in late October, but in the fast and windy first stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, she proved to be the best of the sprinters. Wiebes out kicked Valcar-Travel & Service’s Elisa Balsamo and Ceratizit-WNT’s Lisa Brennauer, respectively, to take her second WorldTour win since switching from Parkhotel Valkenberg to Team Sunweb in June.

The general classification after the opening stage will be very close in time, with only a few seconds and the time bonuses as gaps heading into the time trial in Boadilla del Monte.

How it happened

A relatively short stage kicked off the 2020 Ceratizit Challenge. With a light breeze tickling the wheels of the riders as they rode out of the start town of Toledo. Tailwinds in the first 20 km of the race kept the average speeds above 55 kilometers per hour and neutralized any attacks that were made.

Nearing the 50 km to go mark a solo rider stole away from the rest, Mireia Benito, of the Massi-Tactic Women Team, and was able to gain a slight advantage of 25 seconds.

Unfortunately, with 47 km to go the lone leader was sent in the wrong direction by the race motos, and the peloton was stopped in order to reset. According to the latest time check before the incident, Benito had a 40 second advantage over the peloton, so she was given a head start as the race got underway once again.

Benito continued alone but was hampered with a front flat at 35 km to go. With only a 40 second gap she did not have enough time to stay out front and heading into the final 35 km the race was all together once again.

The peloton remained together until the final 10 km when, with the finish line in sniffing distance, a few non-sprinters had to try for a solo win. Although the run into the line was a bit of a false-flat, the final 100 meters was very flat, favoring the fastest of the bunch. With no riders able to make their attacks stick, the peloton hurtled towards Escalona.

Team Sunweb, who pulled off a textbook lead-out for their sprinter Lorena Wiebes at the last WordlTour event in De Panne was able to do so again and Wiebes crossed the finish line first, with Elisa Balsamo second, and defending champion Lisa Brennauer in third.

Stage two will be the only trade-team individual time trial of the season. A 9.3 km flat course, it favors Bernnauer as well as Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), and 2018 ITT World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott).

Unfortunately, neither of the first two stages will be shown live. Only the final day in Madrid will have video coverage. As a WorldTour race, the Ceratizit Challenge is technically required to have at least an hour of the race live-streamed. The only other WorldTour stage race for the women this year, The Giro Rosa, was also not able to show any of the stages live, as a result, the UCI demoted their status from WorldTour.

Results

1. WIEBES Lorena (Team Sunweb) 2:00:16
2. BALSAMO Elisa (Valcar-Travel & Service) st
3. BRENNAUER Lisa (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) st
4. ERIC Jelena (Movistar Team) st
5. BARNES Alice (Canyon SRAM Racing) +0:03
6. ZANARDI Silvia (BePink) +0:04
7. RYAN Alexis (Canyon SRAM Racing) st
8. ASENCIO Laura (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) st
9. GUAZZINI Vittoria (Valcar-Travel & Service) st
10. ROY Sarah (Mitchelton-Scott) st

General Classification

1. WIEBES Lorena (Team Sunweb) 2:00:01
2. BALSAMO Elisa (Valcar-Travel & Service) +0:05
3. BRENNAUER Lisa (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) +0:10
4. ERIC Jelena (Movistar Team) +0:15
5. BARNES Alice (Canyon SRAM Racing) +0:18
6. ZANARDI Silvia (BePink) +0:19
7. RYAN Alexis (Canyon SRAM Racing) st
8. ASENCIO Laura (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) st
9. GUAZZINI Vittoria (Valcar-Travel & Service) st
10. ROY Sarah (Mitchelton-Scott) st

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