Anna van der Breggen finished second in the Emakumeen Bira individual time trial on Sunday. Her second place in stage two of the Women’s WorldTour race moved the Olympic champion up to second place in the GC as well. Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel finished seventh in the stage.
In the 26.6-kilometre time trial, Van der Breggen set the fastest intermediate time. At the finish line, she gave in 14 seconds to the time of world ITT champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who won the stage and takes over the lead in the GC from stage one winner Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals Pro Cycling).
While the Emakumeen Bira has been on the women’s calendar for thirty years, 2018 brings the inaugural Women’s WorldTour edition of the Spanish race.
In the first stage, Van der Breggen found herself in a lead group together with Van Vleuten, Stultiens and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, the strongest contenders for the overall win in the Basque country. Stultiens made a perfectly timed attack and found herself winning the first stage solo.
The other three riders were caught by a chasing group and arrived at the finish line 17 seconds behind Stultiens. Van der Breggen sprinted to third place in this group, finishing fourth on the stage. Because of bonus seconds that Moolman-Pasio took during the stage, Van der Breggen stood fifth overall after day one.
With a time of 34’14”, Van der Breggen was 14 seconds slower than Van Vleuten. GC leader Stultiens set a time of 37’11”, dropping to nineteenth place overall. Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High5) was third in the individual time trial and drops to third in the GC as well.
The four-day stage race continues with a tough mountain stage on Monday with start and finish in Aretxabaleta. Two category-two climbs and one climb in the third category are on the menu. The last time an Emakumeen Bira stage started and finished in Aretxabaleta, Van der Breggen finished eighth, back in 2013.
Five years on, Van der Breggen will fight for the stage win and look for reducing the lead Van Vleuten has on her – or maybe take over the leader’s jersey. The stage starts at 3.30pm CET and the finish is expected around 6.40pm.