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Iurreta Emakumeen Bira

9th – 12th June

After Tuesday’s warm-up in Durango, where Marianne Vos showed that a month’s holiday and rest had done absolutely nothing for her race form, we now move across town to Iurreta for the start of the week’s main event, a real, proper climby stage race. The Iurreta Emakumeen Bira is a four day, five stage race through the Basque country, up hill, down dale, and with a near enough 100% chance of rain. Defending is a proper climber in Claudia Hausler of Diadora Pasta Zara, although the list of past winners includes the inevitable Marianne Vos in 2008. But that official website hasn’t been updated for a while (apart from the addition of a non-working link to the 2011 race), so for profiles then head over to who clearly have far better contacts than us.

9 June Stage 1 Iurreta-Iurreta (73,3 kms.) – things start easily with under 75km ad just one 3rd cat climb (and here the categories seem comparable to the classifications that the men’s races use, rather than (as happens elsewhere on occasion) categorising every little speed bump.

10 June Stage 2 Iurreta-Lekeitio (115,6 kms.) – things start to get a bit tougher with four categorised climbs, or to be more accurate two, Autzugane and Milloi, each done twice.

11 June Stage 3 part 1 Iurreta-Alto de Kanpazar (7,6 kms. CRI). Two stages today, the first an uphill time-trial

11 June Stage 3 part 2 Deba-Deba (81 kms.). And if the morning didn’t hurt, here are another three cat 3 climbs.

12 June Stage 4 Orduña-Orduña (125,7 kms.). Saving the best for last (which is easy to write if you’re not the one on the bike) the race finishes with a cat 3 followed by two cat 2 climbs, then a 12km descent to the finish line