Franz bags mountains jersey at Burgos – Rally Cycling

After making it into yesterday’s Vuelta a Burgos breakaway and finishing level on mountains points with GC-leader Grace Brown (BikeExchange), Heidi Franz has now moved into the undisputed lead of the mountains classification after another powerful performance on stage 2.

Wearing the red jersey, ‘borrowed’ from Brown at the start of the day, Franz was able to infiltrate an escape move that saw her claim vital points over the day’s final climb. She now owns the red jersey outright and will pull it on for a second consecutive day. 

“It feels amazing to be in the mountains jersey,” Franz said. “For myself as an all-around kind of rider it gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I can use my strength in the breakaways to gain points up the road and really put myself in the bike race. I’m really proud to wear the jersey for the team as well and showcase that we belong in the WorldTour races.”

Franz explained how the move went away.

“The group formed around 35 kilometers into the race in a really strong headwind section, heading towards another short climb of about two kilometers. It was a really difficult section to start the breakaway in and I even thought, ‘Shoot! I don’t really want to be here, this is crazy…

Eventually, Franz was caught by the peloton just two kilometers short of the line.

“I certainly started to believe that my first WorldTour podium was possible but alas the finish was two kilometers too far! But that’s the kind of racing that I love, and now I can believe in myself a bit more when the next opportunity comes.

It was a strong team performance all-round, with Clara Koppenburg and Krista Doebel-Hickok continuing to climb well, matching the efforts of the other general classification riders and coming home in the main group. They both sit five seconds down on new race leader Elise Chabbey (Canyon SRAM Racing) at 20th and 24th respectively.

Koppenburg in the bunch.

With two categorized climbs tomorrow, it will be a challenge defending her lead into the final day’s racing, Sunday, and Franz will face some stern competition from the likes of Niamh Fisher-Black, just one point behind her.

Franz has other objectives too.

“My plan for the next two stages is to prioritize my teammates Krista and Clara in the GC, because I think they are both so strong and capable of a great result – especially with the mountain top finish that suits them much better than myself.”

The UCI is producing video highlights following each Vuelta a Burgos stage so this page will be updated once they become available. For fans outside of the United States, highlights may be available to watch on GCN+.

Vuelta a Burgos mountains classification
1 FRANZ Heidi Rally Cycling 10 pts
2 FISHER-BLACK Niamh SD Worx 9pts
3 BROWN Grace BikeExchange 6pts

Vuelta a Burgos GC
1 CHABBEY Elise Canyon SRAM Racing  4:59:07
20 KOPPENBURG Clara Rally Cycling  0:05
24 DOEBEL-HICKOK Kristabel Rally Cycling  0:05

— Tom Owen to rallycycling.com

Doebel-Hickok snatches QOM in Valenciana finale, Franz wins Points – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling came out swinging in their first stage race of the season with Krista Doebel-Hickok tearing up the climbs to win the QOM competition on the final stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. Doebel-Hickok’s performance comes hot on the heels of teammate Heidi Franz who pulled on the Best Sprinter’s jersey on stage 3 to make it two classification wins for the team.

I feel proud, encouraged, and excited for what’s to come,” said Doebel-Hickok. “I’ve been racing to win. Whether that’s the stage on Friday or the jersey today. When I lost time on the opening day due to a mechanical I shifted my focus and chased the mountains classification. I’ll enjoy this jersey for a few days and then we’re back at it on Thursday.”

Franz, who featured in the breakaway on three of four stages, found renewed energy while sporting the pink Sprinter’s jersey on the final day to Alicante.

It was so special to wear pink today and I think it gave me some extra superpowers,” said Franz. “I managed to chase back to the peloton about four different times after being dropped on the climbs to help support Krista and Katie with bottles. I think the team really came together this week and supported each other with all the highs and lows. It’ll just keep getting better as the season progresses and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Both Franz and Doebel-Hickok spoke about their teammates following the final stage as four of them were caught up in a large wreck on stage 3. Holly Breck and Leigh Ann Ganzar decided not to start on Sunday as a result of their injuries while sprinter Olivia Ray was forced to abandon on the roadside due to a fractured fibula.

“The ladies had some really bad luck but they rode strong as a unit this week and proved they can fight hard in the Euro peloton,” said Kiesanowski. “Winning the sprint and mountains jerseys at this tour is a big deal. Lots of teamwork and hard work paying off after constantly animating the race from the get-go. I’m really proud of them.”

Next up is a series of Spanish one-days starting with the Emakumeen Nafarroako Classic on May 13.

Stage 4 results
1 ŽIGART Urška Team BikeExchange  3:30:13
2 FIDANZA Arianna Team BikeExchange  0:05
3 GUTIÉRREZ Sheyla Movistar Team  ”
4 ALONSO Sandra Bizkaia Durango ”
5 SOTO Catalina Anais NXTG Racing  ”
6 KLEIN Lisa Canyon SRAM Racing ”
7 TOMASI Laura Alé BTC Ljubljana  ”
8 SILVESTRI Debora Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  ”
9 BORGHESI Letizia Aromitalia – Basso Bikes – Vaiano ”
10 RODRÍGUEZ Sofia Sopela Women’s Team ”
11 BORGSTRÖM Julia NXTG Racing ”
12 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Movistar Team ”
13 AALERUD Katrine Movistar Team ”
14 ERASO Idoia Laboral Kutxa Fundación Euskadi ”
15 BIRYUKOVA Julia ”
16 GARCÍA Mavi Alé BTC Ljubljana ”
17 KERN Špela Massi – Tactic Women Team ”
18 CLOUSE Katie Rally Cycling Women
19 ANDRES Michelle Andy Schleck – CP NVST – Immo Losch ”
20 BENITO Mireia Massi – Tactic Women Team ”

Final QOM classification
1 DOEBEL-HICKOK Kristabel Rally Cycling Women 23
2 ENSING Janneke Team BikeExchange 21
3 SHAPIRA Omer Canyon SRAM Racing 20
4 GILL Nadine Michaela Bizkaia Durango 12
5 ŽIGART Urška Team BikeExchange 7

Final Sprints classifcation
1 Heidi Franz Rally Cycling 10
2 Omer Shapira CANYON//SRAM Racing 5
3 Debora Silvestri Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 4
4 Hannah Ludwig CANYON//SRAM Racing 3
5 Maria Martins Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur 3
6 Krista Doebel-Hickok Rally Cycling 1
7 Christina Schweinberger Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus 1

— Tom Soladay to rallycycling.com

Franz attacks in Valenciana, takes Points jersey – Rally Cycling

The third stage of this year’s Setmana Ciclista Valenciana was a scorcher. With no major mountains in sight, the peloton flew along at over 43 km/hr en route to the expected bunch sprint in Valencia. Never one to settle for the expected, Rally Cycling went on the offensive early before placing Heidi Franz in the main breakaway of the day. The 26-year-old proceeded to win both intermediate sprint points off the front of the race to move into the pink jersey with one stage remaining.

It’s so exciting and unexpected to be in the jersey,” said Franz after the podium ceremony. “It wasn’t the plan for me to be in the break but once I was, Joanne encouraged me to go after the sprints. It’s been something I’ve been working on a lot this winter so it felt really satisfying to put that work to use.”

After travel restrictions and a lack of race invites derailed their early season, the team is starting to hit its stride at the races.

“Today helped my confidence after a really difficult start to the season,” added Franz. “It feels great to be with this team in the races again and making an impact on the race. I’m super proud of how everyone is stepping it up. Today was a really rough day with crashes back in the peloton, so I’m just happy to have something to give back to the team.”

The team had been targeting the stage with New Zealand criterium champ Olivia Ray but a massive pileup midway through the stage saw an end to her stage race. Initial reports are an ankle fracture that will require surgery.

Sprint classification after stage 3
1 Heidi Franz Rally Cycling 10
2 Omer Shapira CANYON//SRAM Racing 5
3 Kathrin Schweinberger Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus 5
4 Debora Silvestri Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 4
5 Giorgia Vettorello Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 4
6 Hannah Ludwig CANYON//SRAM Racing 3
7 Krista Doebel-Hickok Rally Cycling 1
8 Christina Schweinberger Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus 1

— Tom Soladay to rallycycling.com