By Owen Rogers
Russian Anastasiia Chursina pulled off a surprise victory at the Vuelta a Burgos on Friday. The Alé-BTC Ljubljana rider had been part of the day’s three-woman breakaway which went clear on a descent after around 30km.
Around 15km from the line she attacked the only remaining fellow escapee on a small ascent and soloed to the line, finishing 1-11 ahead of the peloton. British champion Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) finished in second, with Amalie Dideriksen (Trek-Segafredo) third.
The chasing peloton had allowed Chursina and the rest of the break far too much space and only began a concerted chase on the day’s last climb, when the deficit was over four minutes. Even then a lack of cooperation saw the general classification under threat until Canyon-SRAM took control.
The general classification is now led by Barnes’s team mate, Swiss champion Elise Chabbey who started the day in second place, taking the lead by virtue of her finishing position on today’s stage.
Though she has finished on the podium at the 2014 junior World Championships, the win was Chursina’s first victory outside Russia, her team’s first of the year, and their only WorldTour success since 2019.
How it happened
At 97km, the shortest stage of the race was in fact the shortest day of Women’s WorldTour racing so far this year, but with two classified climbs and 1050m of elevation on its lumpy parcours it was never likely to be a straightforward day.
Rolling out of the start in Pedrosa de Valdeporres, the route took on a large opening loop, passing the finish in Villarcayo after 20km, before turning onto a small loop after 67km and tackling the second climb.
Mostly downhill for the opening 20km, the race began with a flurry of attacks, though the first to get a gap was Brit, Rachel Langdon, the Instafund team rider getting a gap of 30 seconds before being caught on the ascent of the Alto de Bocos.
Once over the climb another group, this time of three women, went away. Chursina (Alé-BTC Ljubljana) taking Cypriot champion Antri Christoforou (Burgos Women’s Cycling) and the ever-active American, Heidi Franz (Rally Cycling) with her. The trio were allowed their lead, quickly building an advantage which grew to over four minutes as the race entered the closing 35km, when the peloton finally began to accelerate.
As the road began to ascend the second classified climb at Alto de Retuerta, SD Worx came to the front, their Canadian champion Karol-Ann Canuel setting the pace on the seven per cent gradient. Half way up, with 23km to go, the team’s world champion Anna van der Breggen began to set a fearsome pace in an attempt to drop the sprinters ahead of the descent.
Over the top of the climb the breakaway still had a lead on a group of chasers, including five from SD Worx, with 20km remaining, but with such power in the bunch the catch looked almost inevitable. With such superiority the Dutch squad began attacking the group, a dig from Van der Breggen followed by one from Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner, Demi Vollering.
However this killed cooperation in the chasing group which was growing as other riders caught back on.
Meanwhile at the front, Chursina only had Franz for company and realised the American was slowing her down, so attacked and dropped her, increasing her lead on the bunch to 1-55 and, having begun the day only 1-43 down briefly took the virtual race lead.
The technical, mostly downhill final 10km favoured the Russian, and as the chasers took turns to attack and look to each other the gap remained static, only when Canyon-SRAM began a concerted chase did the gap reduce.
Tomorrow’s third stage sees the race cover 115km between Medina de Pomar and a mountain top finish at Complejo Kárstico Ojo Guareña, and with the climbing backloaded could well see a change in the general classification.
Vuelta a Burgos Feminas 2021, stage two: Pedrosa de Valdeporres to Villarcayo (97km)
1. Anastasiia Chursina (Rus) Alé-BTC Ljubljana, in 2-29-28
2. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM, at 1-11
3. Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) AR Monex
5. Sandra Alonso (Esp) Bizkaia Durango
6. Laura Tomasi (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana
7. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Jelena Erić (Ser) Movistar
9. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx
10. Marie Le Net (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM, in 4-59-07
2. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) SD Worx
3. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange, all at same time
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) AR Monex at 5 sec
5. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx
6. Tereza Neumanová (CZe) Burgos Women’s Team
7. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
8. Tamara Dronova (Rus) Cognas Mettler
9. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
10. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SD Worx, all at same time
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