La Vuelta Femenina Stage 1: Gaia Realini in the red leader jersey after TT

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 4 weeks ago

Lidl Trek did an amazing job protecting race leader Gaia Realini with the win of the Team Time Trial in Valencia. The 2024 La Vuelta Femenina by has launched with an 16 km team time trial in Valencia, in Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias. The crosswinds didn’t play a big part of today’s stage, but the race had its drama.

Lidl-Trek, a strong contender with top riders like Gaia Realini and Elisa Longo Borghini, had high hopes coming into the first stage. Despite the flat nature of the course, which did not necessarily favor climbers like a pure climber like the Italian Realini, the team executed a perfect strategy, leading the time checks by an, ever so slight, margin.

Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk, the former World Time Trial Champion and a powerhouse on the team, played a crucial role in maintaining the team’s lead by setting a strong pace. However, the race took a dramatic turn in the final stretch when both van Dijk and teammate Elynor Backstedt were involved in a crash. This incident could have jeopardized their lead, but the resilience of the remaining team members allowed them to regroup quickly and push through to the finish line.

Visma Lease a Bike, who finished before Lidl Trek set an amazing time bumping EF Education Cannondale from the hotseat. When the remaining riders finished they still beat VLB  by 2 hundreds of a second! SD Worx- Protime, with Demi Vollering as one of the favorites for the win finished third only +1 second behind Lidl Trek.

The crash caused a significant delay, leaving suspense hanging in the air as the team awaited the final results. Ultimately, Lidl-Trek secured a narrow victory by a mere two-hundredths of a second to Visma Lease a Bike. Gaia Realini, while celebrating the team’s victory and now holds the Red leader jersey for tomorrow, expressed mixed feelings due to the crash affecting her teammates but remained optimistic about their prospects in the upcoming stages. “It’s an amazing result both for me and for the team. I’m happy about it, but not completely happy because two of my teammates crashed on the last corner. I welcome this result, and now I look forward to the next stage. We are definitely ready to defend La Roja over the next few stages and we will try to keep it all the way to Madrid. A course like today’s is not the best for me because it was really flat, but the team had a perfect strategy that enabled us to win this stage.”

La Vuelta Femenina by has expanded to eight stages for the first time, providing a new challenge for the riders and adding to the spectacle for fans. It is the first of three Grand Tours in the Women’s WorldTour and is getting more and more acknowledgement as a tough stage race. The race runs until Sunday May 5th.

Looking ahead to the coming week in Spain, the race promises more excitement with stages that include flat routes, challenging mountain climbs, and sprint opportunities. The route will feature three summit finishes, including the dramatic climbs of Rapitán Fort, La Laguna Negra, and the final showdown at Valdesquí. These stages are likely to be decisive in the battle for the general classification and will test the climbers in the peloton.

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