Tuesday June 7th
It’s hill time at last. After an infuriating lack of proper climby races so far this season we finally get some in the annual outing to the Basque country. The big race is the Emakumeen Bira at the end of the week, but tomorrow we have the warm-up, the wonderfully named Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria. 113km long, it consists of four trips out to the nearby town of Elorrio and back, with a climb each time that looks worse on the profile than the actual scale suggests, followed by a longer trip to the hamlet of Muxika (well they say municipality, I call it two streets, let’s split the difference) for a couple of more substantial climbs: Montekalbo (350m) and Muniketagan (385m), followed by a 10km drag race back in to town, and one last obstacle of a speed bump some 50m from the finish line.
At least that’s what I’m assuming - the race website, well let’s just say it’s remarkably similar to how it was last year. But I’ve not read anything about a cancellation, Marijn de Vries claims to be out there ready to race, and the race distance every time this race has been run in the past is a remarkably constant 113km. Last year the top three were Marianne , Emma Johansson and Annemiek Van Vleuten, but if you look back a bit further in the Album d’Or then the names of proper climbers are there. Well that’s what those of us who don’t have Vos on VDS are hoping, anyway. Here’s last year’s profile:
Profile courtesy of race organisers
The forecast is for rain, but rain’s a way of life in the Basque region. Here’s a nice panorama of Durango on wiki showing the hills. Local TV station EITB (a site you should all have bookmarked for their unrivalled pelota blog has included a few seconds of finishing sprint and podium on their evening news programme before. It’s all streamed on the web too, I just don’t seem to be able to find the right link at this moment. This is could well be the sort of preview where the comments are far more reliable than the story itself. At least I've not yet played the wrong national anthem.