Demi Vollering (SD Worx) collected her sixth victory of the season at the Vuelta Femenina on Friday, holding off Annemiek van Vleuten on stage five’s summit finish to the Mirador de Peñas Llanas.
The Dutchwoman, who completed a historic sweep of the Ardennes Classics last month, rode at a brisk tempo up the final 5km climb and led the front group from 2km to go. Despite a late attack from the world champion, Vollering crossed the line alone, wearing the women's WorldTour leader's jersey, her arms raised skywards.
“Today was a hard day,” the SD Worx rider said post-race. “It looked in the beginning really good for us, we were still with three of us in the front group. Unfortunately Niamh [Fisher-Black] crashed and she was super strong, so that was really not nice for us. We really hoped that she could come back. I was just really keen to win this one also for Niamh.”
Reflecting on the stage finale, Vollering said: “I thought I would just go at my own pace. I know I can keep a hard pace for a long time and I hoped to drop as many as possible as soon as possible.”
By the time they reached the climb’s summit, the 24-rider front group had been reduced to just three, with the Dutch duo joined by 23-year-old Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon-Sram), a first-year rider on the WorldTour. Van Vleuten attacked in the final 400m, prompting Vollering to accelerate, still seated, and power ahead to the line.
“Annemiek tried to come over me and I was like, ‘Ok, now’s the time to give it my all’,” the stage winner said. “First I thought, ‘Oh this is maybe a bit too early because there’s still a long way.’ But in the end it was luckily enough.”
Vollering now leads the general classification with five seconds over Van Vleuten in second. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who started the day in the red leader’s jersey with a 25-second advantage, was dropped on a category-one climb with 80km to go, and failed to regain contact with the front group.
The second, and final mountaintop finish of the seven-stage Vuelta Femenina will come on the race's last day, this Sunday, which finishes atop the Lagos de Covadonga in Asturias.
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