Annemiek van Vleuten Is Off to a Rough Start at Itzulia

2nd itzulia women 2023 stage 1
Annemiek van Vleuten’s Rough Day at ItzuliaDario Belingheri - Getty Images

World champion Annemiek van Vleuten had an inauspicious start to this weekend’s Itzulia Women’s stage race in the Basque Country.

Well, maybe it was auspicious, but in all the wrong ways.

The Movistar rider, who is coming off her recent win at this month’s Vuelta Femenina, crashed on a wet road at just before the day’s final climb.

Van Vleuten was trying to close a gap to eventual stage winner Demi Vollering of SD Worx, who shortly thereafter attacked in the first kilometer of the nearly 6K climb. After the spill, van Vleuten attempted to get back on the lead group before the climb but was prevented from digging into Vollering’s lead due to pain caused by the crash.

“Not our day with a crash in the final for Sheyla Gutiérrez, Paula Patiño and me. Could chase back on before final climb, but painful in hip and wrist, will be okay,” Van Vleuten posted to her Twitter account.

Van Vleuten finished fourth, 51 seconds down on the stage winner and overall leader Vollering, whose SD Worx teammate Marlen Reusser finished second, 47 seconds back. Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma rounded out the podium, 49 seconds behind Vollering.

If van Vleuten wants to challenge for the GC, she needs to make serious gains tomorrow, as Itzulia Women is just a three-day race.

Today’s crash has continued the trend of a rough week for both world champions, as men’s world champ and Giro d’Italia pre-race favorite Remco Evenepoel has hit the tarmac on at least two occasions this week.

In Wednesday’s stage five, Remco crashed twice. First, in the earliest kilometers of the day, he was brought down by a freak accident that was incited by a stray dog running onto the race course. A hundred-and-forty kilometers later, just after the 3k to go banner, Evenepoel crashed again after getting tied up a the late-stage melee.

After that stage, Soudal-QuickStep team doctor Toon Cruyt said the Belgian star was in “a lot of pain,” casting some doubts onto what appeared in the opening stage to be his race to lose.

Despite that, Evenepoel seemed okay on today’s seventh stage, the first true mountain test, finishing 3:10 seconds behind stage winner Davide Bais of team Eolo-Kometa. And he lost no time to the maglia rosa, still just 28 seconds shy of Team DSM’s Andreas Leknessund.

Riders in both the Giro and Itzulia have suffered through absolutely horrendous conditions. Here’s hoping for a little sunshine over Europe for the foreseeable future.

You Might Also Like