D-2 - Van Vleuten: “I’m excited to start from Cantabria”

September 5 th 2022 - 17:14 [GMT + 2]

The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta keeps growing in its 8th edition, the longest to date, and the last one to be so tightly associated with the men’s La Vuelta, as the best riders from the UCI Women’s World Tour gear up for five days of racing from Marina de Cudeyo to Madrid, where both pelotons will arrive on Sunday. From next year, the women’s version of the Spanish Grand Tour will be set in May with a full week of racing.

This week’s challenges take the riders from Cantabria to the capital of Spain through five days of racing adding up to 479.4km with all types of challenges for stars to try and join the likes of Ellen van Dijk, Lisa Brennauer and Annemiek van Vleuten in a star studded winners list.

The battles will begin with a 19.9km team time trial on Wednesday. The stage will not only determine the first wearer of the red jersey but also launch the GC fights, on the eve of another major rendezvous for the contenders aiming to step on the podium of Madrid. Stage 2’s course around Colindres features six ascents to bring battle and turn the race upside down.

Then, the peloton will head down to Aguilar de Campoo (stage 3) and Segovia (stage 4) with punchy routes allowing the most explosive riders to display their strength. On Sunday, the iconic circuit of Madrid (stage 5) will crown the winners of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta 2022.

Annemiek van Vleuten returns to the event as the defending champion eyeing another prestigious stage race victory this year after the Giro Donne and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

“I’m racing for a Spanish team, so it’s always special to race in Spain, and I’m excited for this Vuelta - also starting from Cantabria, which is such a beautiful region”, the Dutch star said. 

“I’ve been doing some training in Cantabria over the past few months. Also, stage four will be on roads close to Valladolid, where I already raced a World Cup leg back in 2010. I expect some windy racing, where we will need to be super focused - and it’s nice to have that one longer stage. I think the team time trial and stage two in Colindres will be quite key. Stage 2, in particular, is the place where I feel I can make the difference.

“In general, I think this will be the one from the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta that is hardest to target, because the route is not that hard. Everyone knows I’m a fan of harder racing, and my chances would be rising with a harder parcours, with longer stages, climbs and mileage.

“When it comes to the race itself, though, I cannot say that the ‘triple’ is a goal in itself. That owes to the fact that, even if the Ceratizit Challenge carries the name of La Vuelta on it, it still hasn’t got the hard stages nor the length, the kilometers, you’d like to find in what you would consider a Grand Tour - it’s also just five days at the moment, with one of them being Madrid’s circuit race. 

“I sincerely hope the impact the TDFF, such a breakthrough moment for women’s cycling, has created - which I have already felt - can help it grow, because its effects can hopefully make organisers realise we’re ready for it. All of that said, it’s a nice race I’m so keen to get into.”

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