It was high time a race like this was created. Teams and cyclists love training rides along the Mediterranean coast of Spain in late winter. Weather is usually good and it creates the ideal scenario to build up form, and there’s a long tradition of men’s races in this part of the world at this moment of the season. Now, women’s cycling also has its own Mediterranean winter race: the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
Yes, it’s only a 2.2 UCI race, it overlaps Women’s WorldTour’s Ronde van Drenthe and in true women’s cycling fashion there were not much information about the race for a long time, but it has still attracted a number of foreign teams and an overall interesting line-up.
With only four stages and the lack of truly hard, steep climbs one would argue whether a team time trial will do any good for the race, even of it’s very short. An individual time trial would’ve surely been more interesting, creating a more colourful general classification, but that’s just a wish.
Even though stages 2 and 3 feature several climbs, none of them is steep enough to create big gaps unless there’s a rider who’s much stronger than the others. The climbers will have to do their very best in order to get rid of the bunch’s control.
The initial startlist featured Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) who would’ve been the big favourite to win the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana given her recent showings of fine form. Subsequent updates don’t show her as a part of the team for this race, so the role of team leader will probably go to Claudia Lichtenberg instead, a fine climber and overall good all-rounder. The team also has great Italian sprinter Giorgia Bronzini, and perhaps a rider like Audrey Cordon-Ragot might find her own opportunity to shine.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is the star of Cervélo-Bigla and may find herself in a top place after the TTT already. It will be interesting to follow the performance of the up-and-coming climber Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, too.
Former cyclocross world champion Thalita de Jong (Lares-Waowdeals) is finally back after that bad crash in the Hoogerheide CX World Cup back in January. It’s safe to say she won’t the fighting for the win, but it will be an important race for her to improve towards future goals.
Alé-Cipollini-Galassia will hunt stage wins with Marta Bastianelli and has Ane Santesteban back at racing after some health problems during the past days.
It will be a priceless opportunity for some of the Spanish teams to compete along some of the best riders in the world. Bizkaia-Durango and Lointek have obviously the strongest line-ups but others such as BZK-Smurfit Kappa or the Spanish national selection will also try to animate the race.
Check out the technical guide of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana for additional details.