The bad news for Demi Vollering: she’s no longer undefeated at Itzulia Women.
The good news: the only person she’s lost to here in two editions is her SD Worx teammate, Marlen Reusser.
The Swiss time trial powerhouse stormed clear of a select group of favorites on the third and final stage of the race to take the stage win and a convincing overall victory, her first career stage-race win.
“I can’t believe it and I’m really overwhelmed because when we discussed our team tactics today in the meeting we could just have stayed with one and two as it was,” Reusser said after the finish, still absorbing her win. “We could try to defend it, but we said no, we want to race aggressively and be the ones that force the other teams to act.”
For much of the race, the attention was on the Vollering-Annemiek van Vleuten rivalry that was further stoked at the recent La Vuelta Femenina. The pair seemed ready to write the next chapter on the final climb of the Mendizorrotz, where Vollering attacked and only Van Vleuten could follow, and the reigning world champion briefly dropped Vollering over the top of the climb before they joined up again on the descent.
But Reusser – who had been second and third on the previous two stages – stayed with an elite chase group on the climb that regained contact with 14 km to go, not long after which she laid down a blistering attack. Such was her power – with Vollering singlehandedly shutting down the chase – that Reusser put more than 2:30 on them in just over 10 km.
Vollering led home the chase, after cat-and-mouse games almost brought the group to a standstill in the run in, but since her lead over Reusser was just 56 seconds entering the day, her teammate handily took the overall as well.
“I asked Demi what if this tactic leads to a change in the GC and I win it instead,” Reusser recounted. “She said that’s fine for her and today you saw that she was the strongest and could stay with the attack. Then she waited for me and didn’t ride and gave me the chance to put in this attack.
“That’s a real champ and I’m so thankful for her to do that, and I’m really grateful that I had good legs. I’m really satisfied with my performance and my climbing. It’s so nice that we finish this tour with one and two in that way.”
It was, once again, a race of near-total domination for SD Worx: the overall, all three stages, and 1-2 finishes in the GC, points, and QOM standings.