La Vuelta Femenina did not disappoint this weekend, with crosswind controversy on Stage 6 leading to Annemiek van Vleuten taking a healthy lead over Demi Vollering in the General Classification. Today’s final stage presented Demi Vollering with an opportunity to recover that lost time on the steep slopes of Covadonga, but despite a great performance, Van Vleuten was good enough to defend her GC lead and win La Vuelta Femenina by nine seconds.
Vollering lost the leader’s jersey on Stage 6 due to taking a natural break at the worst time, leading to a 64 second loss to Annemiek van Vleuten. It was Movistar’s home ground and they had a pre-race plan which they executed perfectly.
Stage 7 finished on the mighty Covadonga climb (8.45km, 9.29% steep part). Vollering had to gain a lot of time and it was the perfect climb for it. Liane Lippert was pulling very hard from the base for Van Vleuten even though her teammate was the race leader and did not need to gain time. After Niamh Fisher-Black finished her pull Vollering started digging hard with 10.1 km to go and only Van Vleuten, Gaia Realini and Evita Muzic remained in the leading pack.
Van Vleuten was dropped with 5.4 km to go after an acceleration on the steep ramps by Gaia Realini. Vollering remained together with Realini who is performing exceptionally well in her first year with Trek-Segafredo. The Italian climber is only 21 years old and might be the best climber in the following seasons.
After the climb levelled off with a few kilometres remaining, the gap to Van Vleuten kept increasing at a rapid rate. Realini stayed on Vollering’s after the short descent and lost 11 seconds in the final kilometre, with Vollering powering to the line to take the stage win.
The young Dutch star performed extremely well today, doing 5.35 ᵉw/kg for 31:01 min. This is only for the steep part but if the whole climb would be included with the descent then Vollering’s estimated power would be around 5.30 ᵉw/kg for 39 minutes but it is hard to calculate it accurately with the ups and downs in the final. On the power x time curve this effort is with the best in our database, while Van Vleuten is not at her 2022 Tour de France Femmes level yet.
Van Vleuten in the end lost 56 seconds but won the overall classification by nine seconds. Realini despite losing time in the early stages finished on the podium thanks to her exceptional climbing skills. Realini is around 40 kg heavy according to the Trek-Segafredo website and her etalon power of 40 kg on Covadonga today would be 5.65 ᵉw/kg for 39 minutes (full Covadonga). Her 60 kg normalized etalon power is by 0.36 ᵉw/kg lower and it is a huge disadvantage for her to ride with a UCI weight limit 6.8 kg bike compared to heavier riders.
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