Gene Bates, Orica-Scott’s D.S., told us the first day of racing that they were ambitious, and their aim was to win several stages plus the general classification. So far, I think the whole team cannot be happier with the results. Maybe some riders are not feeling in top shape, but the power of the whole group is being, no doubt, a clue to their success in the Basque roads.
This said, the spectacular views from San Miguel de Aralar ended up with a bit disappointing stage, not as decisive for the GC as we would have thought before. The gradients, never over 7% plus plenty of rest moments during the ascent, made it a perfect scenario for a team to control any dangerous attack. These were performed by Cervélo-Bigla’s riders (Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig made several serious attempts), but a demanding pace from Orica-Scott in the last kilometres prevented any gap to survive longer than just a few metres.
Prior to the 3-rider sprint won by Annemiek van Vleuten, Dutch Esther van Veen (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) and Doris Schweizer (VéloConcept Women) were in the breakaway of the day, but they never had more than 45 seconds. Nikola Nosková was 2nd ad Ashleigh Moolman 3rd.
Remarkable today the excellent performances by Pauliena Rooijakkers (Parkhotel) , finishing 4th, and Hayley Simmonds (WNT), a time trial specialist who finished 6th today. Also Spanish riders did an excellent stage today with 2 top-ten: Ane Santesteban 6th , Eider Merino 8th.
A note apart as well to young Nikola Nosková, who finished second today. She has become the big, unknown talent of the race but, unfortunately, she won’t be defending her pink jersey tomorrow, as she has to leave the race in the morning. Women’s cycling in 2017: she has an exam on Monday. BePink is trying to change that and hopefully she will be at the start line tomorrow. It would be a shame for the sport if she is not.
General classification has 3 Orica riders in the podium, but tomorrow that can change as Ashleigh Moolman is 4 seconds away from the podium. Errenteria and mountains await for the final stage of the 30th edition of Emakumeen Bira.