The 108km stage starting and finishing in Legazbi was blessed with sun after a week of rain in the Basque Country, the home to Orbea.
The opening stage was a tough opener, with three queen of the mountains amongst many other unclassified climbs as well as two intermediate sprints and two bonus sprints along the route.
With 5 riders in the front group going into the final 25km, it was looking good for our general classification ambitions, until Hayley Simmonds suffered a puncture on a long, narrow descent. With other riders spread out across the course unfortunately there was no car able to give her assistance so any likely GC ambitions were cut short finishing 8’25” behind the winner.
Hayley said “My GC hopes are almost certainly gone, but there are still 3 more days to fight, as well as the time trial tomorrow”
Aafke Soet, Natalie Grinczer and Gabrielle Pilote Fortin finished 1’04” behind eventual winner Sabrina Stultiens. Soet also sits 6th place overall in the young rider’s jersey, with one of her favourite disciplines to come tomorrow, the individual time trial.
“I had a really good day today being in the front all the time. The climbs went really well except for the last one, that was a little bit too steep and short for me. We tried as a team to get back to the first group but sadly the gap was too big. I am looking forward to the TT and the final two mountain stages” said 20-year old, Aafke Soet.
Gabrielle continued to say “At the point when we missed the move on the steep climb, it was all about positioning and being in the right place. We tried to close the gap and Aafke, Natalie and I rode together to close the gap because at some points it was close to the front group. But then in the end we didn’t have enough energy to be able to close the gap. The team worked well together, its coming together nicely, I’m looking forward to the next stages”
38th – Aafke Soet & 6th overall in the youth jersey
40th – Gabrielle Pilote Fortin
49th – Natalie Grinczer
88th – Hayley Simmonds
90th – Elise Maes
125th – Anna Badegruber