Kopecky and Van Vleuten triumph at the end of the way to Santiago
September 5 th 2021 - 15:07 [GMT + 2]
The Belgian national champion Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) won the final stage of the CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta 21 after a tight battle in the streets of Santiago de Compostela. She followed a late attack from her Italian counterpart, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), to catch up to Leah Thomas (Movistar Team) inside the final uphill hectometres, and powered to her seventh victory of the season. Annemiek van Vleuten survived an intense day of racing to bring Movistar Team their first victory in the history of the Spanish stage race and climb onto the final podium in front of the iconic cathedral, alongside the winner of La Vuelta.
“I knew a finish like that really suited me and today the team closed the gap with a perfect timing”, Kopecky described after 107.4km of battle from As Pontes to Santiago de Compostela. “They were really strong today and I’m very happy I could finish it off. This is a victory that gives me a lot of motivation.”
After three days of hilly racing around the mountain resort of Manzaneda, the peloton of the CERATIZIT Challenge by La Vuelta 21 faced a much flatter terrain towards Santiago de Compostela. But riders were still willing to bring battle on the way to Santiago. Van Vleuten’s teammates participated in the early moves, on the day after the Dutch rider produced an attacking masterclass to turn the race upside down.
“I just wanted to make it to the finish and I was also hoping my teammates would get in the breakaway”, Van Vleuten explained. “I love to race in Spain, it was a nice hilly course and it’s important for me and my team. We can be happy with how we’ve raced.”
After one hour of fast racing, a Movistar rider was at the front, alongside another Dutch star. The World Champion Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx), set to retire at the end of the season, participated in a 13-woman move, quickly down to four riders, with AVDB, Leah Thomas (Movistar Team), Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) and Alena Amialusik (Canyon//Sram).
With a gap of 1’10’’ with 20km to go, a tight finale was awaiting the riders. Leah Thomas went on her own with 10km to go, and she was still 15’’ away when she entered the last kilometre. With the road rising to the finish, that gap proved not to be enough to resist the fastest riders in the world.