Juliette Labous takes a first top tier victory with Burgos GC success

The French rider finished second behind Demi Vollering on the final stage, with enough time to take the overall

Juliette Labous celebrates with a DSM team mate after winning the general classification at the 2022 Vuelta a Burgos
Juliette Labous celebrates with a DSM team mate after winning the general classification at the 2022 Vuelta a Burgos
(Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images )

Frenchwoman Juliette Labous won her first WorldTour race on Sunday, taking the general classification at the four day Vuelta a Burgos. 

The DSM rider held on for second place on the final stage mountain top finish to take the overall ahead of compatriot Evita Muzic (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), with Demi Vollering third overall.

Vollering (SDWorx) managed to take the stage. Having lost time on stage three she was forced to attack repeatedly on the steepest, final five kilometres of the climb to Lagunas de Neila. Though Labous was dropped late on, the French woman finished second, only 17 seconds down, taking the overall by the same margin. 

It was another brutal day in Spain, the opening kilometres ridden faster than the predicted average speed again. No breakaway was allowed to form until late in the day, though even that was caught very early on the final climb.

After Labous followed one of Vollering's earlier moves she was finally gapped late on, and while the Dutch rider rode her way steadily to yet another victory, her sixth this year, Labous dug in, her rival never losing likely to take the 35 seconds she needed for the overall.

The overall result is a real landmark for both Labous and her DSM squad. She and German team mate Liane Lippert are of similar age and have had parallel careers with the Dutch based squad. However, they have struggled to take big wins. With her punchy climber’s sprint, Lippert finished second on stage three, but the with Labous better at long uphill efforts the team’s strategy to ride for the Frenchwoman on Sunday paid off.

How it happened 

Though this year’s final stage started from a place and is a few kilometres longer, the defining feature remained the same as last year's edition. The finishing climb to Lagunas de Neila is not an easy one, 11.8km in length at an average of 6.3%, it becomes harder hear the top, the final three kilometres rarely dipping below 10%.

Last year SDWorx dominated, Demi Vollering leading deep into the final when the race became a head to head between her team mate, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), the former taking the stage and overall.

Neither were racing this year, Van Vleuten out injured, while Van der Breggen was directing operations from the team car.

For once though, SDWorx didn’t hold the box hand going into the last day. Their top rider on GC was third-placed Lotte Kopecky, and though the Belgian champion is hugely versatile, the long, severe finishing climb meant there was little expectation of victory. 

Instead New Zealander, Niamh Fisher-Black was their top rider on GC, the 21 year-old climber starting the day 18th, one of a large group 22 seconds behind leader and stage three winner, Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ), with a whole host of climbing talent in between the two.

That ensured stage four was an intriguing prospect, the 125.1km stage the race’s second longest, rolling out of Covarrubias, tackling two third category climbs before heading to 1,870 metres and the closing test.

It was another fast start, the peloton setting off with intent and arriving at the 40km mark just ahead of the fastest predicted schedule, no one able to establish a breakaway ahead of the day’s first climb.

Only with 60km ridden did a small but very strong group get away, Scot Anna Shackley with her SDWorx team mate Kopecky, along with Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM), Marie Le Net (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo). As the peloton finally took a breath the five women quickly established a lead of 50 seconds over the peloton as the bunch headed south towards the second climb, the Alto del Collado Vilviestre.

They were never allowed much more though, the gap hovering around the minute mark the break taking nearly 50 seconds into the final 17km, with DSM and the UAE Team ADQ squad of overall leader García leading the chase.

The early slopes of Lagunas de Neila were kind to the bunch, but as the steeper slopes approached the five escapees were finally caught. And with the climb wearing on FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope took to the lead of a peloton which was fast being worn away, only 20 riders surviving to tackle the closing eight kilometres.

Around five kilometres from the line Vollering (SDWorx) managed to prise two others off the front, both Juliette Labous (DSM) and Paula Patiño (Movistar) ahead of the Dutch woman on GC.

As overnight leader García drifted backwards the leading trio were caught, by a small group, but once again Vollering went, with Labous hanging on for second on the day and a first ever GC victory.

Result Vuelta a Burgos, stage four: Covarrubias - Lagunas de Neila (125.1km)

1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDWorx in 3-39-39
2. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM at 17 sec
3.Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 37 sec
4. Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) EF Education-Tibco-SVB at 44 sec 
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at same time 
6. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service at 50 sec
7. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 54 sec
8. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZL) SDWorx at 1-06
9. Ane Santesteban (Esp) BikeExchange-Jayco at 1-20
10. Paula Patiño (Col) Movistar at 1-28

Final general classification

1. Juliette Labous (Fra) DSM in 13-06-28
2. Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 17 sec
3. Demi Vollering (Ned) SDWorx at same time 
4. Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) EF Education-Tibco-SVB at 27
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at same time 
6. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 37 sec
7. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valvar Travel and Service at 46 sec
8. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZL) SDWorx at 56 sec
9. Ane Santesteban (Esp) BikeExchange-Jayco at 1-03
10. Paula Patiño (Col) Movistar at 1-11

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.