Reusser breaks Vollering's stage winning streak, wins Itzulia 2023 with solo attack
Image 1 of 14
Image 2 of 14
Image 3 of 14
Image 4 of 14
Image 5 of 14
Image 6 of 14
Image 7 of 14
Image 8 of 14
Image 9 of 14
Image 10 of 14
Image 11 of 14
Image 12 of 14
Image 13 of 14
Image 14 of 14
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) overtook teammate Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and claimed overall victory at Itzulia Women 2023 as she won the third and final stage with a 12.8km solo effort.
Vollering won the reduced-group sprint behind for second ahead of Olivia Baril (UAE ADQ) in third after the chasers significantly slowed in the final kilometre, eventually finishing 2:38 down on Reusser.
The duo of Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) and Vollering broke away from the rest of the field up the final climb to Mendizorrotz before being caught by the chasing trio of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM), Olivia Baril (UAE ADQ) and Reusser.
Vollering stuffed any attempts to chase her teammate after she attacked from the back of the group, allowing Reusser to gain enough time to take her second and third World Tour-level victories of the season.
"I think I can't believe it and I'm really overwhelmed because when we discussed our team tactics today in the meeting we could just have stayed with one and two as it was. We could try to defend it, but we said no, we want to race aggressively and be the ones that force the other teams to act," said Reusser.
"I asked Demi what if this tactic leads to a change in the GC and I win it instead she said that's fine for her and today you saw that she was the strongest and could stay with the attack. Then she waited for me and didn't ride and gave me the chance to put in this attack which we planned.
"That's a real champ and I'm so thankful for her to do that and I'm really grateful that I had good legs. I'm really satisfied with my performance and my climbing. It's so nice that we finish this tour with one and two in that way."
Reusser took the overall 1:50 ahead of Vollering, with Niewiadoma a further 1:09 behind. Despite looking strong on the climb, Van Vleuten was forced into doing the majority of chasing and finished sixth on the stage and fifth overall, also behind Baril.
How it unfolded
This year's Itzulia Women finale was held on a slightly different course to the 2022 edition, with the final climb up the Murgil wall to Mendizorrotz (4.1km at 7.3%) cresting 28.6km from the finish in Donostia. Last year they summited the steeper route (2km at 10.1%) 9km from the line.
Cecile Lejeune (Massi-Tactic) was the first attacker on the final stage within the first 10km, closely followed by Silvia Magri (Israel-Premier Tech Roland) and Giorgia Vettorello (BePink).
Multiple riders attacked early including Blanka Vas (SD Worx) and Elizabeth Stannard (Israel-Premier Tech Roland). They were joined by a further eight riders, Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon SRAM), Sheyla Gutiérrez (Movistar), Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), Ella Wyllie (LifePlus-Wahoo), Usoa Ostolaza (Laboral Kutxa Fundación Euskadi), Kathrin Hammes (EF Education) and the strong FDJ-SUEZ duo of Loes Adegeest and Marie Le Net.
They hit the foot of the famed Jaizkibel climb (7.9km at 5.6%) with a chasing group of five 1:08 behind them and the peloton a further 50 seconds back.
The peloton shrunk in size significantly on the inclines with Vollering and the other race favourites coming to the fore. They joined the break before the second categorised climb, Gurutze (2.5km at 5.6%), to form a group of 19.
Vas claimed the 13 QOM points on offer from the initial two climbs with Rooijakkers moving into the virtual lead of that classification by adding 10 points to the four she already had.
Vollering hit the front on the final climb to Mendizorrotz, with the steepest gradients maxing out at 19% on the lower slopes. Her acceleration immediately put Rooijakkers, Ewers, Eva van Agt (Jumbo-Visma) and Amber Kraak (Jumbo-Visma) in trouble.
With 2km left to climb, it was the duo everyone expected to show their hands alone at the front, Van Vleuten and Vollering, with their differing styles on the bike as prominent as ever.
Vollering sat in the World Champion's wheel before the summit of the climb, where she took the six QOM points and confirmed her win in that classification, one point ahead of Rooijakkers.
Van Vleuten was the more daring on the technical descent and separated herself from Vollering with 25km remaining. Vollering stayed cautious initially but was back in contact 3.5km later.
Niewiadoma, Reusser and Baril chased the leaders down with 14km remaining, forming a group of five at the head of the race. The Polish rider immediately tried to attack over the top but Reusser closed and countered before things calmed momentarily.
Reusser's second and eventual winning move was let go by Vollering, forcing the others into a chase with 12km left to ride. She took the three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint and was starting to build a gap of over 30 seconds.
Vollering stifled any attempts to chase her down in the final 10km, but did start losing the virtual GC as the group lulled in pace by the kilometre. Neither of the other three was willing to chase with Reusser too far gone to chase at this point. She would cross the line solo to take her 17th professional victory.
They started track-standing in the final 2km which allowed the FDJ-SUEZ duo of Évita Muzic and Marta Cavalli to catch back on. Still, once the reduced-group sprint started, Vollering was superior and came in for another SD Worx one-two.
She finished 2:38 down on Reusser, granting her Swiss teammate the GC victory and ending Vollering's streak of five wins in five races at Itzulia Women since its inaugural edition last year.
Reusser also moved into the lead of the points classification to add a green jersey to her yellow one.
Wyllie confirmed her lead in the young rider's classification by finishing just behind Vas, as one of her fellow early break members, Ostolaza claimed the best Basque rider classification.
Results powered by FirstCycling