Itzulia Women: Canyon-SRAM edging closer to victory after strong performance on stage 1

Second place and three in top-10 for team at the end of an active day in the Basque Country.

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Canyon-SRAM is one of the WorldTour teams yet to take a win this season, but once again came close after an aggressive day at Itzulia Women.

Pauliena Rooijakkers was narrowly beaten to the victory by Demi Vollering (SD Worx) at the finish line in Labastida, and the team also secured the eighth, ninth, and 11th spots with Elise Chabbey, Alena Amialiusik, and Soraya Paladin all finishing within the reduced peloton.

The team has come into this Spanish block of races after a promising, though ultimately winless, spring campaign but showed its motivation during Friday’s stage, always either covering or following the key moves.

“It was a good situation for us with Elise ahead. All the other teams had to do the work and we had five riders in the group who only had to wait patiently in order to react to attacks if Elise’s group was caught. When that happened, Alena went with the first attack. When she came back and Demi went, I joined. The other teams had already done so much work that they couldn’t catch us back,” Rooijakkers said.

“I was thinking of both GC and also trying to take the stage. I knew it would be hard to beat Demi in the sprint and I wanted to take the last corner in the first position which I could manage, but I couldn’t hold her off in the end. We have two more hard stages and we will see what happens. I will aim for GC and everything is still possible. We have a strong team here and hope we can bring the win home.”

Also read: Demi Vollering wins stage 1 in Labastida

Quickly becoming one of the peloton’s most regular breakaway instigators, Rooijakkers had been one of the day’s very first attackers, leading the peloton over the first climb at Zaldiaran and taking maximum points.

The team did not place a rider in the four-woman breakaway in the first half of the stage, but once the break was caught, it was a big acceleration from Elise Chabbey over the top of the final categorized climb that was the catalyst for the next move.

Showing off her descending skills, Chabbey pressed forward in a move with Vollering, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, and Lucinda Brand.

Even when that group was also brought back, Canyon-SRAM had every move covered, first with Alena Amialiusik attempting to escape, and then Rooijakkers joining Vollering as they bridged to lone leader Kristen Faulkner.

With a strong peloton chasing behind, it was an impressive effort from all three riders to stay away, with Vollering commending Rooijakkers’ commitment to the move at the finish.

The team’s efforts rewarded them with second overall for Rooijakkers and Elise Chabbey sits second in the mountains classification with two more hilly stages to come.

The challenge now may be balancing its objectives between stage wins and general classification interests.

Canyon-SRAM may be in Spain without its often-designated leader Kasia Niewiadoma, but with some of the peloton’s best breakaway riders in a race that will favor ambitious moves, it may be knocking on the door of a long-awaited win.

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