Lotta Lepistö claimed her third WorldTour victory of the season in emphatic style by winning the Crescent Vågårda road race in Sweden on Sunday (August 13).
The Finnish road and time-trial champion, who finished second last year, timed her sprint to perfection, surging past Marianne Vos (WM3), the newly-crowned European road race champion, to seal a much-deserved victory.
Lepistö, who claimed her first WorldTour victory of the season by winning Gent-Wevelgem in Spring, and who last month won a stage of the Giro Rosa, thanked her team-mates for their role in her sixth victory of the season.
“Marianne [Vos] started the sprint and I was on her wheel and forced my way through. I was second here last year so I wanted to make sure I did better. Last year I was very tired from being in the breakaway when we came into the sprint. Today I had good positioning and timed it well. The team is in amazing form and everyone was incredible.”
Cervélo Bigla set the tone for their Swedish campaign in the team time-trial last Thursday (August 10) with a fine second place. Lepistö featured in the six-woman line-up, alongside South African and Danish individual time-trial champions Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
Road champions Lisa Klein (Germany) and Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland) were also selected by team manager Thomas Campana for this most demanding discipline, where team work is vital. Clara Koppenburg, a 22-year-old developing talent, now in her third year with Cervélo Bigla, gained her first WorldTour podium by finishing with her more decorated team-mates.
Lepistö has long identified the World Championships in Norway next month as a major goal, and is likely to roll out in Bergen among the favourites. Lepistö could be among three national champions from Cervélo Bigla to race in their national colours, with Hanselmann and Klein logical selections for the Swiss and German national squads.
Jasha Sütterlin missed out on a top 10 finish on general classification by just one second after seven stages of racing in Belgium and The Netherlands during the BinckBank Tour (formerly known as the Eneco Tour).
The 24-year-old powerhouse delivered a characteristically committed performance in often appalling conditions, and had climbed as high as fifth overall by the finish of stage five. Sütterlin dug deep on the final stage, which concluded with an ascent of the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen.
As the cobbled climb did its worst, Sütterlin was distanced by stage winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and a group of twelve following riders, comprised of many of the world’s best riders, including world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Alex Dowsett was another who dug deep for Movistar Team on the roads of the Low Country, striking out on stage four and holding off the combined efforts of the peloton until just 4km from the finish.
Movistar Team has announced its nine-man squad for La Vuelta España. With Nairo Quintana resting after his efforts at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, and Alejandro Valverde recovering from a broken kneecap sustained in a crash on the opening stage of the Tour, Abarca Sports has decided to give youth a chance at the last of the season’s Grand Tours.
Marc Soler, the 23-year-old who finished third overall at the Volta a Catalunya in March, behind Valverde, the winner, and second placed Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), a multiple Grand Tour winner, is among several young riders handed a Grand Tour debut by team manager Eusebio Unzué.
Richard Carapaz, 24, who this season became the first Ecuadorian to compete in cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour, will also roll out for his first three-week race next week. Jorge Arcas and Antonio Pedrero, both aged 25, will also make their Grand Tour debuts.
Elsewhere, the team can bank on experience in the shape of Carlos Betancur, Dani Moreno, Nelson Oliveira and JJ Rojas. Ruben Fernandez, 26, who formed part of Movistar Team’s victorious line up at last year’s Vuelta, completes the line up.
The 72nd edition of La Vuelta starts with a team time-trial in the French town of Nîmes on Saturday (August 19). The three-week race, nearly 3,300km long, has five mountain stages, including an ascent of the savage Alto de l’Angliru on the penultimate stage. It finishes in Madrid on Sunday September 10.