Liv Racing’s purple Cuore outfit could not be missed in Tuesday’s Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria. The entire team rode at the front in the 115-kilometre Basque one-day race. Pauliena Rooijakkers finished fifth, 27 seconds behind winner Anna van der Breggen. Sabrina Stultiens cleverly finished in tenth place.
“It was just an excellent day. The feeling was good, as well as the power. The tactical plan of the team was to ride in function of me because of the many climbs. In case of a breakaway, teammates would react as best they could. Sofia Bertizzolo was there to protect me. Everything went perfectly”, said Pauliena Rooijakkers.
“In the penultimate lap of the local circuit – which we covered five times – the peloton broke in two. All five of us were in the first group. Some of the favourites for the win were in the second group. We then decided to speed up the pace. I saw a very strong Marta Jaskulska at the head of the bunch. Sabrina Stultiens also did everything she could to keep the speed up, so the group behind couldn’t catch up so easily. The team worked perfectly together. We were where we must be positioned and communicated well.”
On the first of two climbs of the Goiura Gaina, the pace remained high. “Unfortunately, some of the favourites reconnected”, says Rooijakkers. “The descent of the Goiura Gaina went well, we were still in front with three or four teammates. On the final climb it was all or nothing. I ended up with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. We saw Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen at the top of Goiura Gaina. They weren’t far. But even though I gave everything I had, we didn’t get any closer.”
Rooijakkers is confidently looking forward to the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, starting on Thursday and lasting until Sunday. “I got a lot of confidence from the team today, enabling me to achieve a good result. We rode very strong as a team and fought for each other. That gives a good feeling towards Burgos.”
Photo credits: Cor Vos