Parkinson wins Best Young Rider in Setmana Ciclista Valencia

Trek-Drops successfully defended the white jersey on the final queen stage

Stage four of Setmana Ciclista Valencia was always going to be the decisive day. After three stages where the yellow jersey changed hands due to sprint bonuses and sprint finishes, it was now time for the climbers to truly have their say.

The pre-race meeting was simple and clear: Trek-Drops wanted a hard race, as this was the only opportunity to improve upon their general classification (GC) placings and keep the best young rider jersey that Abby Mae Parkinson held since the first stage.

Parkinson’s rival for the jersey, Aafke Soet (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling), was on paper, perhaps, a better climber, however, Abby Mae’s grit would see her persevere in such a hard stage. Only three seconds separated the two, and it would take a team effort in a race tailored to the mountain goats.



Photo:Balint Hamvas/

The 118-kilometer race started and ended in Benidorm, tackling three grueling loops with a category-two climb at the start of each lap. But it would be a tricky descent after the categorized climb, followed by a sharp uphill, that would result in nine riders – the best climbers of the race – escaping on the first lap, never to be seen again.

Twenty-five riders formed the second group on the road with three from Trek-Drops, and the gap quickly opened to the nine ahead, all who were highly motivated knowing they had dropped the race leader and were fighting for the final podium.

With the GC fight up the road, and Trek-Drops best climber and overall classification hopeful Kathrin Hammes just missing the split, a decision was quickly made by Hammes and Taylor Wiles to change tactics from obtaining a high GC placing to keeping the white jersey securely on Parkinson’s shoulders.

Trek-Drops had little to no allies in the chasing group of 25, which also contained young rider rival Aafke Soet, and knew it was best to throw all their resources into clinching the Best Young Rider category, no easy feat over the undulating terrain that remained.

Tayler Wiles and Abby-Mae Parkinson. (Photo:Balint Hamvas/

In the end, the concerted teamwork prevailed.

Coming into the final kilometer Wiles and Hammes capped it off with a perfect lead-out for Parkinson, where she sprinted to second from the bunch for 11th place and cemented the Best Young Rider of the race.

Parkinson was all smiles after a tough race and heaped praise on her teammates:

I am so happy, I really can't believe it, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the girls. Today was so, so hard! My legs! But the girls were incredible and kept me safe all day looking after me. And not just today, every day they have been incredible riding on the front. I am so happy! It's a team effort, this jersey is a team success.

Photo: Balint Hamvas/

While Trek-Drops just missed out on a top 10 GC – Parkinson finished in 11th, Tayler Wiles 12th, and Kathrin Hammes 13th – winning the Best Young Rider classification took a united effort, and team director Loren Rowney was proud of the way the team rode over the four days:

Usually when a DS looks at the results and sees the riders in 11th, 12th, 13th they would sit there and think 'what happened!?' This was not the case at all! I saw the team fight all week, and yesterday I was really impressed by their sheer commitment to securing the jersey for Abby Mae.

I know Kathrin was frustrated that she missed the key move, a move she would have easily stayed in 100 percent. However, that is bike racing, and she quickly changed her mentality to work hard for Abby Mae.

Tayler was struggling all day on the bike, but whenever the roads flattened out, she was straight to the front helping Abby Mae. I'm really proud of their efforts this week. It has been a big learning curve for some of the riders, which is exactly what we want before we head into the WorldTour races.