Preview Itzulia Women 2024

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 2 weeks ago

The Itzulia Women’s 2024 race, starts this Friday in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country, is always a welcome race to the Women’s WorldTour calendar for the riders.

The race was born out of the ashes of Emakumeen Bira, preserving the tradition of a significant women’s cycling tour in the Basque Country. Only 4 years old now, Itzulia Women saw it’s first light in 2022 and has swiftly ascended to a prominent position on the Women’s WorldTour calendar, offering thrilling racing that rivals the pre-existing Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa. This event, which expanded significantly amidst the reshuffling of the cycling calendar due to the pandemic, has already made a notable mark with its competitive and challenging stages. Itzulia Women spans three days of intense competition across the mountainous landscapes of the Basque Country in northern Spain. Managed by the OCETA sports association, the same organization responsible for the renowned six-day Itzulia Basque Country men’s stage race in April, this event is positioned strategically among key Spanish stage races, Itzulia Women is nestled between La Vuelta Femenina by, which finished last week and ran from April 28 to May 5, and the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, scheduled for May 16 to May 19. All three races are part of the prestigious Women’s WorldTour lineup.

What happened previous years.

In its debut year, Demi Vollering of SD Worx showcased her dominance by sweeping all three stages and securing the overall general classification. She was followed by Pauliena Rooijakkers from Canyon-SRAM in second place and Kristen Faulkner from Team BikeExchange-Jayco in third. The following year, SD Worx continued to excel with Vollering winning the initial two stages. However, it was her teammate Marlen Reusser who captured the general classification after a decisive solo attack in the third stage, with Vollering finishing second and Kasia Niewiadoma from Canyon-Sram taking third.

This continued success highlights the dominance of their team, SD Worx, which has won all stages and GCs to date.

The stages

Itzulia Women 2024 is three stages this year. The 2024 edition is shaping up to be the most demanding yet, tailored specifically for the elite climbers of the Women’s WorldTour. Spanning a total of 358.9 kilometers, the race will traverse the scenic yet challenging terrains of the Basque Country, specifically through the regions of Alava, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa. Riders will face nine categorized mountain passes, ensuring a fiercely competitive and exhilarating event.

Stage 1

This year, the opening stage of Itzulia Women 2024 runs from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Elgoibar over 140km and is the longest and features the most elevation gain of the entire race. Although it only contains three categorized climbs, the stage is filled with numerous ascents and descents. This makes it a prime opportunity for a breakaway, either leading up to or during the ascent of the Olaeta pass. The final kilometers consist of a steady, gradual incline on a continuous false flat, culminating at the finish line in Elgoibar.

Stage 2

Basauri is the host for stage 2 of the Itzulia Women 2024 is poised to be the most tense of this year’s race. Spanning just 104 kilometers, it features three categorized climbs and concludes with a series of climbs and descents that will likely determine the stage winner. The final 10 kilometers, characterized by potential rapid pace changes, could significantly impact the general classification, especially for those riders who are not well-positioned or whose legs may struggle with the demanding terrain. This stage is not only crucial for stage contenders but also for those aiming to solidify their overall standings in the race.

Stage 3

The third and final stage of Itzulia Women 2024 is set to be the most pivotal of the race, closely mirroring the iconic San Sebastian Classic and runs in Donestia and is 114,9km. long. This decisive stage begins with a challenging ascent to Jaizkibel from Lezo and culminates with a grueling climb up the Murgil wall to Mendizorrotz. Following the peak, the route takes a swift descent to Orio, after which the riders will face a crucial stretch leading into San Sebastian. This segment effectively serves as an individual time trial, with competitors pushing their limits to reach the finish line. The performance here is likely to be crucial in determining the overall race leader and potentially deciding the winner of the general classification.

Riders to watch.

Demi Vollering

Ofcourse is the Dutch Demi Vollering of Team SDWox-Protime the all time favorite. Her recent La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour win makes her the all star favorite for Itzulia Women. Not because of her win, but by the way she won the race. The mountainous parcours suits her best and she will be the woman to beat. However, winning all the stages and GC to date the Dutch team, has everything to lose.

Kasia Niewiadoma

The Fleche Wallonne winner of this year didn’t have a great La Vuelta. Due to a small illness she didn’t live up to her full potential She now has a chance to redeem herself in Spain again. The Polish Canyon//Sram Racing tram rider always does well in Basque so we expect a great deal from her this year, if she is not sick.

Shirin van Anrooij

The Dutch young rider of Lidl trek is back on the bike after a short well deserved holiday and start with fresh legs in Basque country. She has a great team around her with road cvaptain Amanda Spratt to guide her to the bottom of the climbs and Loretta Hanson to keep her save an neutralizing attacks. This young rider has a great future ahead and also did well in previous editions of the race always in the attack or counterattack. She will be hungry for that big win.

Juliette Labous

DSM Firmenich PostNL put all their eggs in the basket of the pure climber Labous. Ther French rider is now engaged with Belgian cyclist Oliver Naesen who asked her to marry him this week. Her endorphins could bring her to the highest podium. Also Labous has done well the past few years in Basque country.

The 2024 edition of the Itzulia Women promises to be exceptionally challenging, marked as the most mountainous yet. The 358.9 km route will traverse through the Euskadi territories of Alava, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa, featuring nine categorized climbs, making it an ideal battleground for the top climbers in the Women’s WorldTour.

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