Demi Vollering ‘hungry for revenge’ on Annemiek van Vleuten after Vuelta Femenina crosswind controversy

Demi Vollering said she was “hungry for revenge” for Sunday’s stage of La Vuelta Femenina after she lost her red classification jersey to Annemiek van Vleuten.

The Movistar Team rider is the new race leader after usurping her Team SD Worx rival, making her play 36 kilometres into the stage at a time when Vollering had stopped for a nature break.

Vollering summed up the situation, saying: “At 70 kilometres from the finish, me and some other riders on my team had to pee. Femke Markus also just had a puncture. It was just before a town. Nothing seemed to be happening. At that moment the peloton was riding at a slow pace.”

Vuelta España Femenina

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Movistar sport director Sebastian Unzue explained the team’s tactics for that point of the race, when there was a heavy crosswind.

He said: “We had a very clear plan this morning. We knew it was an unprotected area with a big bridge and with strong crosswind.”

Van Vleuten added: “It was a super-good moment, super-good timing also, on the bridge, only it was unfortunate for some girls that stopped to pee. But we already made the plan, and for them it’s not the best moment if they see we go on the right-hand side and wind is coming up. It’s also part of the race that you need to stop in a good moment and not with crosswinds coming up.”

Vollering was sceptical of her rival’s claims that it was a deliberate ploy, and was reportedly tearful as she said: “I would say the same if I were her. But it is all quite much of a coincidence. They did everything they could to ride me out of the red jersey. This is top sport. I don’t expect any gifts, but if you want to do it this way… a shame.”

The crux of the controversy is because of a convention that teams do not attack rivals when there is a crash, or when they are taking a nature break. However this does not apply if there is a planned acceleration as part of race strategy, hence Vollering’s scepticism.

Van Vleuten finished the stage in second, with Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) taking the stage win, and Vollering fifth.

Van Vleuten boasts a lead of 1m 11s going into the race’s final stage on Sunday.

Unzue discussed the strategy for his team, noting: “We had Jurgen Roelandts in front of the race informing us of the wind conditions where we wanted to make the acceleration. We know these roads perfectly because we live close to the area, we’ve been racing here all our lives and knew that some GC riders wouldn’t expect it.

“They made a huge mistake stopping in the worst possible moment for a pee. We made the same mistake yesterday with Liane [Lippert] stopping for a pee just before a climb and she was caught up behind. We had to chase all day. But we accepted our mistake and didn’t complain about other teams accelerating when she was peeing. It’s racing.”

Vollering concluded by expressing her disappointment and determination.

“I’m really bummed,” she said. “It is a big shame because my legs felt really good. Hopefully that will still be the case tomorrow. I am hungry for revenge and hope to put things right tomorrow.”

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