The second day of the Madrid Challenge goes to the sprinters but it's the Stage 1 time trial that's decisive in the overall.
The Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta continued with a circuit race in the streets of Madrid, and on rain-slicked roads, Letizia Paternoster sprinted to second place behind Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini). Roxane Fournier (Movistar) rounded out the podium for stage two, while Lisa Brennauer (WNT Rotor) held off a challenge from Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) in the intermediate sprints to win the two-day event.
I have to say thanks to the whole team as all race they did a great job – they were strong. I tried to my best in the sprint, and I am happy with the second place.
- Letizia Paternoster
It was a fast pace for the 98-kilometer circuit race in the center of Madrid, where the men were also scheduled to finish Stage 21 of La Vuelta, with the intermediate sprints and constant attacks keeping the speeds high. When the rain began to fall in the final laps, the roads with numerous white painted lines turned treacherous, and despite the bunch inching around the turns, a few crashes were unavoidable. The always aggressive Tayler Wiles became a victim in the closing kilometers, ending her race, but not before she had covered and launched a few of her own attacks.
Lotta Lepistö, who is still finding back her top form after ill health had her sidelined for the latter part of the season, provided the final support in the sprint, leading Paternoster to perfect positioning. The young Italian had Hosking’s wheel but found herself squeezed to the right-side barrier and unable to find an open door until Hosking opened her sprint. By then there was not enough real estate remaining to come around the Australian, but second place for the 20-year-old Paternoster, who is still finding her road legs and gaining experience with every race, was an excellent result.
“I am happy for these two days and the performances of the team,” agreed director Giorgia Bronzini, who had won this race in 2018. “Today was a pretty fast race with all the bonus sprints, and the team tried to attack and be present in the breakaways, and we never missed one, which was very good to see. Lotta led the team toward the sprint and helped Letizia be in the wheel of Hosking. The only mistake was Letizia being on the wrong side and unable to come out from the wheel of Hosking. But okay, that experience will come. Overall, I am happy with the performance of the team and her sprint.”
In the first-day time trial, Anna Plichta was the top finisher for the team in 5th place, earning her 7th overall with Paternoster moving into 8th with the time bonus she gained at the finish. Rain also plagued the time trial, causing Ruth Winder to slide out in a roundabout and costing her a higher finish. Winder still managed an 11th place finish and ended in 13th in the GC.