SD Worx return to dominance with incredible 100% Itzulia Women record

Demi Vollering's final-day exploits mean no other team has ever won a stage at the Spanish race, while the team are dominating once again after a mixed spring

Clock16:15, Sunday 12th May 2024
Demi Vollering (right) with Mischa Bredewold on the podium at Itzulia, where between them they won all the stages

© Getty Images

Demi Vollering (right) with Mischa Bredewold on the podium at Itzulia, where between them they won all the stages

The race may only have existed for three years, but with nine stages and three general classifications up for grabs, the odds of one team sweeping the board at Itzulia Women would on paper seem just as unlikely as it would at any other stage race. Yet as Demi Vollering crossed the line and raised her arms in Donostia on Sunday, Team SD Worx-Protime were able to claim just such an astounding record.

In the three editions of the race that have been run since its inaugural edition in 2022, the Dutch team have won every stage, and taken top honours with three overall victories: Demi Vollering in 2022 and Marlen Reusser in 2023.

This year, European champion Mischa Bredewold was victorious on stages 1 and 2, and though she couldn’t go with her teammate on the final climb, she did enough to secure second place on the overall podium to add to the team’s achievements.

It’s a record which almost defies belief, until you consider the team who have managed the feat, and, moreover, the woman who took the top step of the podium twice at the end of Sunday's stage in the Basque Country.

Vollering’s record at the race is in itself unrivalled. The Dutch national champion has won six of a possible nine stages, and two of the three overall classifications, in three years. That's two thirds of the available victories garnered by the reigning Tour de France Femmes and Vuelta Femenina champion – undeniably impressive.

Read more: Itzulia Women: Demi Vollering solos to stage win and overall title on final day

A shaky spring

Last season, the narrative around the dominance of Team SD Worx was unequivocal; they were the best team in the women’s peloton, without a shadow of a doubt. They contained within their number the world’s best stage racer, Classics rider, time triallist and sprinter, and a deluxe support team, all of whom were capable of winning in their own right.

The results proved it, with win after win, in the Classics and in stage races, both at World Tour level and less high profile races. And not just wins – one-twos or even full podiums, as the team who had everything greedily gathered up honours and left very little for the rest.

This season was expected to continue in the same vein. At the UAE Tour in February, World Champion Lotte Kopecky set the tone in the team’s first outing of the year, underscoring her all-around potential by winning the GC following a commanding climbing performance on Jebel Hafeet.

However, the spring didn't quite follow that script. With rumours of top riders leaving and question marks over leadership, there was a sense of uncertainty surrounding the team’s Classics campaign, and despite Kopecky’s success at Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix, Vollering was unable to add any wins to her considerable palmarès.

The mixed results spoke for themselves. 2024 was not going to be all about Team SD Worx-ProTime; the rest of the women’s peloton had their number.

Back on top

Then came La Vuelta Femenina, and a shift of focus from one-day racing to stage racing, and the first Grand Tour of the season. By stage 5 and the final ascent into Jaca, it was clear Vollering was back. In case there was any doubt about it, she followed up with a second stage win on the race’s massive final mountain stage to Vasdequi to seal the general classification by a huge 1:49, going one better than her 2023 result in which she missed out by just 9 seconds to Annemiek van Vleuten.

With such commanding performances, Vollering has proven beyond a doubt that she is very much back to her best form ahead of a summer which will include a defence of her Tour de France Femmes.

Despite suffering with stomach issues for the past two days in the Basque Country, Vollering acknowledged after the race that even if she had been unable to complete the job, they had last year’s winner Marlen Reusser along with other riders to take up the mantle and perform for the team.

It spoke to the confidence the collective have in one another, and their belief in their ability to win in a variety of circumstances. Vollering also commented on the team’s flawless record at the race.

“To win every stage til now, three years in a row, that’s incredible actually, three times is history I think,” Vollering said. “We can be very proud of this. You never think that you can do something like this, but to do it again, to win all the stages here, that’s incredible.

“It says something about how strong a team we are, and also how much we like these kinds of races, to be always very active and take it in our own hands. I’m really proud to finish it off here.”

With their continued imperious hold over Itzulia Women, following on a week after their dominance of La Vuelta, once again the onus falls on the other Women’s WorldTour teams to find an answer to the question posed by Team SD Worx – can they be beaten? And if so, how?

Given Vollering’s ability to forge ahead even when by her own admission she was not feeling 100%, the answer currently looks to be: nothing.

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