Neutral Service primarily concerns itself with women’s cycling in Britain and British female cyclists competing here and abroad, but cycling has always been a multinational sort of sport and cycling fans are interested in what’s going on around the world. So, here’s Marcos Marín’s report on the Spanish National Junior Championships.
Last weekend the Spanish National Championships for Juniors were held in Mazarrón, Murcia. As usual, the individual time trial and road race were held on two consecutive days, starting with the ITT on Friday. Over a course of 12.9 kilometers, riders like Julia Rodríguez, Naia Leonet or Mireia Orengo were the top favorites to get the gold medal. Rodríguez was one of the first riders to start the time trial and got to the finish line in 17min 40s, placing first in the provisional classification. Valencian Teresa Ripoll got a better time just two minutes after Rodríguez came into the finish line – later Rodríguez told the press she had crashed with 2 km to go. Cristina Martínez, who is preparing Ponferrada World Champs at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, got a better time than Ripoll – 17min 27s. And then the surprise came. María Calderón got an impressive time of 16min 51s, winning the ITT Champ when nobody expected to see her on the podium.
On Saturday afternoon, the road race was held over a course of 74.6 km + 12 neutralized km. With two really hard mountains to climb, surprises weren’t expected. Basque Naia Leonet attacked just when the race started, and a group of 11 more riders joined her with 15 km done – there were no top favorites in that group. In the first climb, the Alto del Cedacero, Galician Paula Sanmartín made her move in the breakaway, going solo – only Teresa Ripoll could follow her pace in the first kilometers. Meanwhile, in the main bunch, three riders who were expected to be in the fight for the gold attacked: Cristina Martínez (Valencia), María Calderón (Castille and León) and Rocío García (Madrid). In the flat section between both climbs they first caught Ripoll and later they caught Sanmartín too, who resisted and was caught with only 22 km to go. Calderón had a puncture at the start of the second climb, the Alto de la Cuesta – just when Martínez attacked. Knowing they weren’t going to be able to catch Martínez, the group of four just fought for the second place in the sprint, won by María Calderón – who incomprehensibly hasn’t been selected to ride the Worlds (Editor’s note: moments after this article was published, the Spanish Federation announced that it would in fact send Calderón) – ahead of Rocío García. Paula Sanmartín, after her superb race, finished fourth and Ripoll fifth.
Remarkable fact: both ITT and RR had four first-year riders in the top 5: Calderón, Ripoll, Rodríguez, Sanmartín in the ITT, Calderón, García, Sanmartín, Ripoll in the RR.