Eleonora Gasparrini (UAE Team ADQ) took the win on the final day of the Challenge Mallorca Femenina, outpacing Noemi Rüegg (EF Education-Cannondale) to the line on the uphill finish at the Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx.
The finale was a straight battle between the two teams as they took control of the final kilometres along with riders from Movistar and AG Insurance-Soudal. But it was UAE who were at the front in the final kilometre thanks to the efforts of Silvia Persico.
Persico led to the final corner of the race, peeling off to let Gasparrini take the inside into the final 50 metres. Rüegg, meanwhile, was out of position on the outside of the group and was forced to round Persico to begin her sprint.
The move meant the Swiss rider was left with too much to do to catch and sprint against Gasparrini on the short run to the line, meaning she had to be content with second place – as well as her win at the Trofeo Felanitx on Saturday.
For Gasparrini, the victory counts as the third of her career. Another Italian rider, Nadia Quagliotto (Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi), rounded out the podium a little further back. Olivia Baril (Movistar) and Marthe Goossens (AG Insurance-Soudal) took fourth and fifth, respectively.
How it unfolded
The race for the finale was set up after Katharina Fox (Maxx-Solar Rose), the last woman standing from the breakaway, was caught 5km from the line following 109km of racing from Binissalem out to the hills of Mallorca’s western coast.
The German rider went off the front after 13km of the 114km ride, joined by her teammate Helena Bieber and Kathrin Schweinberger (Ceratizit-WNT). The trio were well away and six minutes up on the peloton as they approached the first climbs of the day just past the midway point.
Behind them, a chasing group had formed, with Antri Christoforou (Roland), Giorgia Bariani (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Irene Mendez (Eneicat-CMTeam) and Fernanda Yapura (Komugi-Grand Est) making the move.
The quartet, however, lay five minutes down as the riders took on the Valldemossa (4.4km and 5.7%) and the Coll d’en Claret (3km at 4.5%). With more hills lying ahead, Fox went solo heading into the final 35km as the second group were caught by the peloton following a futile chase.
Bieber and Schweinberger were soon caught by the peloton, too, leaving Fox solo for the final 25km of the race, including the Coll de sa Gramola (3.8km and 4.2%) and the Coll de S’Arracó (1km at 6.3%).
A crash in the peloton at 22km out, which saw Quagliotto, her teammate Ane Santesteban, and Arianna Fidanza (Ceratizit-WNT) involved, held up the chase behind the solo leader, though it would only be a matter of time before Fox was caught.
The final 15km saw attacks from the chase by Cédrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT), Mavi García (Spain), and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal), though the reduced peloton was all together as Fox was caught 5km out.
From then on it was EF, AG, UAE and Movistar largely in control of the pacemaking with the US squad looking the keenest to take control. However, it was UAE who took up the mantle at the decisive time for the finale, with Persico delivering Gasparrini to the line for the squad’s first win of 2024.
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