Itzulia Women 2024

WorldTour racing returns to Spain with a three-day race and stacked teams from Lidl-Trek, SD Worx-Protime and Canyon-SRAM

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Itzulia Women
Itzulia Women
  • Dates 10 May - 12 May
  • Race Length 353 kms
  • Race Category Elite Women

Updated: 9 May 2024

Itzulia Women 2024 overview

The block of Women’s WorldTour racing in Spain continues this week with Itzulia Women, starting on 10 May and finishing on 12 May. The women’s version of the men’s Itzulia Basque Country, is the three-day race takes place in the Basque Country with a mixture of hilly stages. It’s less mountainous and challenging than the Vuelta Femenina that comes before it or the Vuelta a Burgos Féminas that comes after, but it’s still a challenging three days of racing that suits an all-rounder.

The women’s Itzulia was only introduced to the calendar in 2022, but has since then formed a central part of the Spanish stage racing block, often offering up a more open, versatile set of stages than its hillier counterparts.

The first edition in 2022 was totally dominated by Demi Vollering, who won all three stages and the overall as part of her ascendency to the top of stage racing. In 2023, Vollering again won the first two stages, but handed the mantle over to her teammate Marlen Reusser on the final stage, who won by enough to seal the overall title too.

This year, Reusser is returning as defending champion, as is Vollering, hot off her Vuelta Femenina victory. They will be up against the likes of Évita Muzic (FDJ-SUEZ), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Shirin van Anrooij (Lidl-Trek) in the three-day race between Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastián.

Itzulia Women 2024 key information

When is the Itzulia Women 2024? Itzulia Women will start on Friday, 10 May and conclude on Sunday, 12 May.

Where does the Itzulia Women 2024 take place? Itzulia Women takes place in the Basque Country in Spain, with stages to and from Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basauri and Donostia (San Sebastián).

Who won the Itzulia Women in 2023? The 2023 Itzulia Women was won by Marlen Reusser, who took a solo victory on the final stage with a big enough margin to secure the overall.

When did Itzulia Women start? The first edition of Itzulia Women took place in 2022, and was won by Demi Vollering.

Who has the most wins at the Itzulia Women? No rider has won the overall more than once, but Demi Vollering leads the way with stage wins, having won five.

Itzulia Women 2024 preview: route and contenders

In its third year of existence, Itzulia Women is sticking to a similar formula to its first two editions, with three tried-and-tested stages in the Basque hills. All three are hilly but not mountainous, and lend themselves to attacking, tough racing – don’t be fooled by any of the flat finales, history tells us this race is rarely raced in a way that allows for a sprint at the finish.

The stages ramp up in difficulty, with stage 1 taking in three shorter climbs and 1,473m of climbing before a 14km flat run-in to Elgoibar. The final climb at Itziar (5.5km, 3%) should draw out some attacks and see a small group or solo rider try to go to the line. Stage 2 is harder, with some really steep climbs along the route, notably the Urrutzigaina, which is only 1.5km long but has an average gradient of 12.6%, and plenty of steeper sections. There are then a couple of small ramps in the final 10km that should make for a punchy finish.

Stage 3 is the most challenging day, taking in 1,788m of climbing in a 115km loop starting and finishing in San Sebastián. There are two main climbs, the Jaizkibel – known from the Clásica San Sebastián – and then the Mendizorrotz, however there are also several smaller categorised and uncategorised climbs on the route.

This will make for a testing day, especially after two hard stages already. There’s a relatively long run from the top of the final climb to the finish – just under 30km – so there is a chance for things to regroup, but as Reusser proved on this stage last year, you can also time trial to the finish.

In terms of the contenders, SD Worx-Protime will probably be looked at as the team to beat here, whether that’s with Vollering or Reusser, or maybe even Niamh Fisher-Black. Vollering clearly knows how to win these stages, having won five out of the six Itzulia stages that have ever taken place, but it depends if she wants to go all-in on this race after winning the Vuelta and with bigger goals coming up. Reusser was climbing well at the Vuelta, and must be motivated to win coming back from injury, so repeat success here for her is also a possibility. Fisher-Black is their third option, but is usually given more opportunities in races like this, and likes the punchy climbs.

SD Worx’s main rival that emerged during the Vuelta was Évita Muzic (FDJ-SUEZ) and she’ll be in action at Itzulia too. Though clearly in fine form, the parcours of this race is perhaps less suited to the Frenchwoman – she comes into her own on long, summit finishes, which this race does not feature. However, she’s clearly going well, and will have taken confidence from the Vuelta which could translate to a more attacking performance.

After a busy spring and some injuries at the Vuelta, SD Worx’s perennial rivals Lidl-Trek are taking a pared back squad to this race, without Elisa Longo Borghini or Gaia Realini. Instead, Shirin van Anrooij will return from a rest period to lead the team, and looks like a real contender for success. She was third at the Navarra Classic on Wednesday, and often goes well in these Spanish races, so should be aiming for at least a stage win on a punchy parcours that suits her.

Canyon-SRAM will have both Kasia Niewiadoma and Ricarda Bauernfeind in this race, and it will probably come down to the road to decide who is leader. Niewiadoma is the natural leader, and was third here last year, but she’s coming back from sickness that took her out of the Vuelta, and her form is not yet known. Bauernfeind, however, showed her strength and the Vuelta, and should probably be given more of a leadership opportunity in this race. They also have Neve Bradbury and Elisa Chabbey returning to the squad, making a really strong line-up in this race.

Other riders to watch will be Juliette Labous (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Olivia Baril (Movistar) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (Fenix-Deceuninck), who was second here in 2022 and looked on exceptional form during the Vuelta. Jayco AlUla are also bringing a strong team, with Mavi García, Ella Wyllie and Urška Žigart all interesting riders, and for a wildcard, keep an eye of Cofidis’ Hannah Ludwig, who kicked to victory at the Navarra Classic this week.

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