Discuss: A feed zone attack at the Vuelta Femenina
When live coverage started with less than 50 km to go viewers were shocked to see the red jersey of Demi Vollering distanced from the front of the race, with Movistar leading the charge. Annemiek van Vleuten’s team had left the leader over a minute in the dust, and Vollering was flanked only by her teammate Niamh Fisher-Black.
After the race had concluded, a clearer picture of why Vollering was left behind started to emerge, with Fisher-Black hinting that Movistar had started their attack 30 km into the stage when Vollering was stopped for a nature break.
Movistar’s Team Manager Sebastián Unzué took to Twitter to defend his team’s move.
“We had a very clear plan this morning,” Unzué wrote. “We knew it was an unprotected area with a big bridge and with strong crosswind. We had Jurgen Roelandts in front of the race informing us of the wind conditions where we wanted to make the acceleration. We know this roads perfectly because we live close to the area and we’ve been racing here all our lives and we knew that some GC riders wouldn’t expect it so we went for it.
“They made a huge mistake stopping in the worst possible moment for a pee. We made the same mistake yesterday with Liane stopping for a pee just before a climb and she was caught up behind. We had to chase all day. But we accepted our mistake and didn’t complain about other teams accelerating when she was peeing. It’s racing.”
Neutralizing the race when the leader has stopped is an unwritten rule in cycling, but that courtesy only comes into play when the race isn’t on. Unzue’s position is that in this instance, even though it was early in the stage, the race was very much on.
So, what do you think? Was Movistar right to attack with Vollering stopped? Did Vollering choose the worst moment to pee? Or should the race have waited while the red jersey was roadside?