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Road Racing

Itzulia Women Stage 3: Marlen Reusser rides away with overall

Follow all the action in the three-day stage race across Spain's Basque Country.

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Marlen Reusser rode away with everything in the final stage Sunday at the three-day Iztulia Women.

The SD Worx rider rode away from everyone to win nearly two minutes clear of the main pack. That bounced her ahead of teammate Demi Vollering to put her on the top step of the winner’s podium.

“I can’t believe it. Our plan came completely true,” Reusser said. “We chose to ride aggressively again and not limit ourselves to defending Demi’s leader’s jersey. I would go on the attack. I checked with Demi how she felt about it should I take the overall victory because of this tactical move, but she granted it to me.

“It showed, because when she was the only one able to follow Annemiek, she stuck to our plan and waited for me. That gave me the chance to make my attack. She is a real champion.”

Annemiek van Vleuten attacked on the final climb with about 30km to go, and Vollering stayed glued on her wheel. That opened the door for Reusser to counter, and away she went.

Vollering won the opening two stages, and was unbeaten in the new race going to back its debut edition last year, and was content to let her loyal teammate have a shot at victory.

Vollering crossed the line second and finished second overall, with Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram) finished in the lead chasing group to wrap up the weekend with third overall.

“Every stage I was on the podium together with Marlen. So I am super happy that she takes the last stage and the overall win,” Vollering said. “When someone from Team SD Worx wins, we all win.”

The team’s domination in the opening two editions of the race is complete. Since the race’s founding last year, the team’s won every stage of Itzulia, placed two riders on the podium, and finished first and second overall.

The Women’s WorldTour continues with the four-stage Vuelta a Burgos Famines this week in Spain.

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Stage 2: Vollering remains unbeaten

Vollering made it two in a row Saturday. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Demi Vollering continues to win at Itzulia Women even when she doesn’t want to, kicking to victory Saturday for the second day in a row to take firm control over the overall.

SD Worx once again dominated the action in the hilly finale that saw the bunch splinter into pieces. A reduced bunch came in together in the 133.2km stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Amurrio.

The plan was to set up teammate Marlen Reusser, but wet conditions and hard-chasing rivals spoiled the tactic.

“This was not the plan. The intention was that Marlen Reusser attacked on the last climb of the day and could stay away like that,” Vollering said at the line. “In the end that didn’t work out, partly because the roads were so slippery. It was tricky. After that I was in a good position for the sprint and Reusser did a good leadout.”

Vollering, who won stage 1 to open the three-day race, relegated Soraya Paladin (Canyon-Sram) into second, with teammate Reusser rounding out the podium with third.

Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram) crossed the line fourth to settle into third overall, at 1:05 behind Vollering, with Reusser occupying second at 56 seconds back.

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) finished in the lead bunch and is fifth overall at 1:11 back.

The victory makes it five in a row for Vollering in the newly minted Itzulia Women, which debuted last year. She won all three stages last year and the overall, and will start in pole position Sunday to complete the sweep again.

For Vollering, it is her third WorldTour win in a row, her ninth win of the season, and she remains unbeaten in Itzulia.

“I can’t believe it. Of course I hope to continue that line tomorrow,” she said. “It would be a dream to score six out of six in the Basque Country, but tomorrow will be a difficult day. It will be important to stay safe.

“The climb in the final is difficult, followed by a nice descent and then a flat section to the finish. We showed today how strong our team is. So we are keen to be successful again tomorrow.”

The overall will be decided Sunday with a challenging, 114.8km route starting and finishing in Donostia (San Sebastián). The course tackles that Cat. 1 Jaizkibel early in the stage and hits the second-category Mendizorrotz climb with less than 30km to go.

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Stage 1: Vollering unbeatable right now

MARKINA, SPAIN – MAY 12: Demi Vollering of The Netherlands and Team SD Worx celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 2nd Itzulia Women 2023, Stage 1 a 122.2km stage from Etxebarria to Markina-Xemein / UCIWWT / on May 12, 2023 in Markina, Spain. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

There’s no stopping Demi Vollering right now.

The SD Worx star ripped to victory in the opening stage at the three-day Itzulia Women in Spain’s Basque Country. Cold, wind, and rain marked the 122km rollercoaster stage from Etxebarria to Markina-Xemein.

“I felt good on the climbs, but otherwise it was mainly wet and cold today,” Vollering said. “The weather was an opponent in themselves. Hopefully it will be a little drier in the coming days, but it seems to stay rainy for the next few days. Hopefully we stay fit.”

Vollering jumped on the day’s final climb up the second-category Urkaregi climb to distance her rivals.

Teammate Marlen Reussen marked the chasing rivals as Vollering soloed to victory, and she crossed the line second at 47 seconds back. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram) rounded out the podium with third at 49 seconds back, while Vuelta Femenina winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) was fourth at 51 seconds.

Van Vleuten later confirmed that she crashed, and was able to chase back on the final climb to finish close to the podium.

“I have pain in my hip and wrist,” she said. “It was a nice memory of races in the Basque Country and in Spain, full-throttle and a lot of rain.”

The race continues Saturday with the 133.2km second stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Amurrio. The rolling profile could split the bunch early, and a reduced bunch kick looks likely. Rain, cold, and wind could change the script.

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