They do not reach 40 years. They are even younger than some of their runners. They just got off the bike. Led their entire career by men, they have decided to take the leap behind the wheel of cars and transform the landscape of women’s cycling. They are the directors of the champions. To Demi Vollering, the best of the year, the leader in SD Worx, the best team in the world, Anna van de Breggen, 33-year-old Dutch, seven victories in the Arrow, two Lieges, four Giros, two-time world champion, an olympic gold Ane Santesteban, the 32-year-old Gipuzkoan from Errenteria, who leads the Australian team Jayco in the Vuelta, is directed by Megan Chard, a 25-year-old British ex-cyclist. And Giorgia Bronzini, 39, two-time world champion, also a women’s Tour, is the boss at Liv, the Dutch team that has signed Mavi García, 39, the best Spanish cyclist, as leader.
“I had never been with a director, I had always been with directors, but in the end I don’t think everything is based on whether it is female or male either,” says the Mallorcan cyclist, four-time Spanish champion, both against the clock and in the distance. “I came to Liv because of Giorgia Bronzini, because she was there, because I had spoken to her several times and she explained to me how she worked, and it was something that I was missing a bit with a director. And she really wanted her to come. She really shows that she has been a runner, and a smart runner as well. She knows how to do race tactics very well, she knows how to motivate the girls very well, she knows how to be close to us. I really like how she works, but that’s it. Regardless, she believes, of whether she is a woman or a man, it is because of her knowledge, because of what she has experienced and because of how she treats us ”.
In the last Giro, Mavi García, always Spanish champion, was on the podium, third in the victory of the intractable Annemiek van Vleuten. In the Tour, misfortune and falls ended her hopes. Following historical logic, she should reach the first Vuelta, the mountains that she is so good at, with a vengeful spirit, eager to demonstrate. No. One of the most solid and regular in stage races, the 39-year-old Mallorcan, who should be, apart from the best Spanish, the third in contention in the planned Demi Vollering-Annemiek van Vleuten fight, arrives with illusions counted. Do not count on her to fight her, although you do count on her opinion. “Maybe Van Vleuten has lowered his level a bit, but, honestly, Vollering is very strong and he is running super well, he doesn’t fail, he runs smart, he moves when he has to move… And with the condition he has, he wins everything”.
Question of dates. The Spanish Tour begins just eight days after the last great classic, Liège, which traditionally marks the end of spring. “Actually, in the Ardennes I expected better,” Garcia says. “Especially in Liège [20ª; cuarta en la Flecha, 16ª en la Amstel], but, well, things work out as they work out. The races are very difficult and sometimes it doesn’t show how you really are. I’m strong, I’m fine, but this year I haven’t put the Vuelta as the main objective, since we were more focused on doing the Ardennes well in Liv”, says García. “But I suppose that all the others will also be a bit the same because in the end the type of training to do the classics is totally different from later when I will prepare the longest laps like the Giro and Tour. This year I don’t have that preparation for the Vuelta, and knowing that this was the case, we didn’t have the best team either. Something similar happened with men until 1995, when the men’s Tour began on the same dates, the last week of April. Thus, not even the Spanish figures could compete in the great classics, nor did many one-day champions compete in the Vuelta. “But, well, there are a couple of stages that I really like,” says the Majorcan champion of a race in which the hardest days will be the last three, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the finish at Mirador de Peñas Llanas, in Riaza (Segovia), the Cantabrian coast and interior, from Castro to Laredo, and the final arrival at the top of Lagos. “In Spain I try to do my best, and see what can happen.”
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