Grace Brown takes the overall lead after winning opening stage at Vuelta a Burgos

The Australian won the first stage in Spain from a three-woman breakaway group

Grace Brown wins stage of the 2021 Vuelta a Burgos
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Grace Brown took the opening stage of the Vuelta Burgos Feminas on Thursday. The Australian led a three women attack which went clear on the final climb, around six kilometres from the line.

The BikeExchange rider drove the move in the final and even led out the sprint from the front, holding off Swiss champion Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) who was second, while Niamh Fisher Black (SD Worx) was third.

Under the pressure of Canyon-SRAM’s Israeli champion Omer Shapira the peloton had thinned dramatically on the last climb of the day, but Brown caught the German team napping when she launched off the front around 200m short of the top.

With Chabbey on her wheel, they formed a strong pair, and when Fisher-Black joined them just over the top the win became a distinct possibility. Having missed the move Trek-Segafredo took responsibility on the front of the bunch, and while the gap was reduced it was not closed when Tayler Wiles finished her turn.

With no one team then willing to commit the gap remained around 15 seconds into the last kilometre by which time the race was won.

How it happened

Though only 100km, the opening stage of this four day race was far from easy. Starting in Villadiego, north west of the northern Spanish city of Burgos, the peloton tackled a lumpy parcours and two classified climbs, including the last one, which dragged upwards to the line in Sargentes de La Loro.

A lone attacker managed to get away early in the day, but Mireia Benito (Massi Tactic) was never allowed too much rope, the bunch keeping her lead to only 30 seconds before catching her with 68km remaining.

Shortly afterwards, as the undulations and high speed began to take their toll, the race split into two large groups before, finally, three women moved clear, with Benito going again, this time with Heidi Franz (Rally Cycling) and Namibian, Vera Looser (InstaFund) for company.

The three riders soon had nearly a minute’s lead, but as the road began to rise towards the day’s first climb, the Alto de Coculina 46km from the end, their lead dropped, and while Franz took the mountain’s points the peloton was only seconds behind.

On the descent 2016 road world champion Amalie Dideriksen (Trek-Segafredo) attacked the bunch, and when she was caught her 19-year-old team-mate Shirin van Anrooij escaped, building a lead approaching in excess of one minute inside the final 15km.

The Dutch rider led into the final 10km, but as BikeExchange and Canyon-SRAM came to the front the advantage began to tumble and she was caught immediately before the peloton began to climb.

Tomorrow’s 97km second stage between Pedrosa de Valdeporres and Villarcayo takes in two more classified climbs, but with the last one coming 22km from the line it could be a day for the sprinters.

Results

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, stage one: Villadiego - Sargentes de La Lora (100km)

1. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange, in 3-32-04
2. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM
3. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZ) SD Worx, all at same time
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) AR Monex at 5 sec
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Liv Racing
6. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
7. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx
9. Tereza Neumanova (CZe) Burgos Women’s Cycling
10. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange, in 3-32-04
2. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM
3. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) SD Worx, all at same time
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) AR Monex at 5 sec
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Liv Racing
6. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing
7. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx
9. Tereza Neumanova (CZe) Burgos Women’s Cycling
10. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, all at same time