Ceratizit Challenge route is ‘not that hard’ according to Van Vleuten

Defending champion says the Ceratizit Callenge by La Vuelta will be the hardest 'Grand Tour' to target...because it's too easy.

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Annemiek van Vleuten goes into almost every race as the favourite and the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta is no exception. Having won the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift Van Vleuten is looking to complete the set and take the overall in Spain this week.

If she has retained anything near to her form from the Tour, Van Vleuten will go into this race as the GC favourite, especially in the build up to the world championships. Van Vleuten herself, however, claims that the parcours of the Spanish race isn’t hard enough for her to make the difference.

“In general, I think this will be the one from the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta that is hardest to target, because the route is not that hard. Everyone knows I’m a fan of harder racing, and my chances would be rising with a harder parcours, with longer stages, climbs and mileage,” she is reported as saying in a press release from the race organisers.

Van Vleuten also went on to pick fault with the length and difficulty of the race in relation to its stature.

“When it comes to the race itself, though, I cannot say that the ‘triple’ is a goal in itself. That owes to the fact that, even if the Ceratizit Challenge carries the name of La Vuelta on it, it still hasn’t got the hard stages nor the length, the kilometres, you’d like to find in what you would consider a Grand Tour – it’s also just five days at the moment, with one of them being Madrid’s circuit race,” Van Vleuten said.

“I sincerely hope the impact the TDFF, such a breakthrough moment for women’s cycling, has created – which I have already felt – can help it grow, because its effects can hopefully make organisers realise we’re ready for it. All of that said, it’s a nice race I’m so keen to get into.”

Still, Van Vleuten expressed her excitement to race in her team’s home country: “I’m racing for a Spanish team, so it’s always special to race in Spain, and I’m excited for this Vuelta – also starting from Cantabria, which is such a beautiful region”, she said.

Despite claiming not to be targeting the ‘triple’ Van Vleuten has been reconning some of the stages. “I’ve been doing some training in Cantabria over the past few months. Also, stage four will be on roads close toValladolid, where I already raced a World Cup leg back in 2010. I expect some windy racing, where we will need to be super focused – and it’s nice to have that one longer stage. I think the team time trial and stage two in Colindres will be quite key. Stage 2, in particular, is the place where I feel I can make the difference,” she added.

The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta gets underway with a team time trial on Wednesday at 17:50 CET.

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