Eider Merino (4th) makes Movistar Team shine bright atop Zoncolan

14 July 2018
Imagen de la noticia ‛Eider Merino (4th) makes Movistar Team shine bright atop Zoncolan’

Giro Rosa (st. 9)

Spanish champion shows immense quality at Giro Rosa’s Queen stage, with only race leader Van Vleuten (MTS), Moolman (CBT) and Spratt (MTS) besting the Basque youngster. Mavi García takes brilliant 9th.

The Movistar Team took yet another step forward in its impressive series of performances in the 2018 Giro Rosa, finishing in 4th place with Eider Merino at the Italian Grand Tour’s Queen stage atop the Monte Zoncolan.

Well supported until the bottom of the ascent by Biannic, Rodríguez, Jasinska and Llamas, Merino and a solid Mavi García got through the first big selection, only fifteen riders including all GC contenders. It wasn’t until the last 5km when a decisive move by race leader Annemiek Van Vleuten (MTS) and Ashleigh Moolman (CBT) made Eider react, together with Amanda Spratt (MTS). The two started a hellish pursuit, which would end up taking Merino to arguably her best ever pro result.

Behind, García gave it her all to achieve another remarkable top-ten result, 9th across the line, with both Blue leaders up in the GC to eighth and twelfth, before Sunday’s decider in Cividale del Friuli (120km). The amazing San Leonardo climb (Cat-1), as well as a fast final descent, will settle things down.

REACTION / Eider Merino:

“The race was pretty calm before the climb. We had some misfortune as we were held up by a crash early on, but the peloton was riding at a slow pace and we didn’t have to spend much energy to bridge back. At the same time, it was pretty eventful before the ascent – we had some torrential rain, so hard that you couldn’t even see the road. Luckily, as soon as we got to the foot of the Zoncolan, the roads had already dried out.

“The work by Gloria, Aude and ‘Jasi’ was spectacular, as well in the small climb before the end as in the run-in towards the Zoncolan. Mavi and I were well positioned at the foot, within the first 10 riders at the first turn. Guarnier tried to set an early, steady pace, but soon there was an attack from Moolman, which Van Vleuten followed to leave us behind. I didn’t want to get too excited, instead choosing to set my own pace. The group was quite reduced, with Ane, Mavi, Spratt… and I saw I was doing great, so I decided to pick up the pace a bit and go chase the leaders alongside Spratt.

“I was feeling really well all day, but especially on the climb, where I tried to pace myself regularly. I might have even been too ‘pesimistic’, but all in all, I think I spent all energy I had. I was keeping 5-6” over Spratt as I left her behind with three to go, but Amanda is quite more experienced than I am, and controlled the situation perfectly. She knew she had to wait until the final 100 meters to leave me behind and, as everyone could see, I’m nowhere near the sprinter category, even on a climb (laughs).

“I’m so happy with this fourth place, and even if I’m holding a grudge, not being able to visit the podium, we will come back for it next year or even profit from tomorrow’s stage to take some more chances, maintain our current 8th overall or improve it even further.”

Cover picture (c): Lorenzo Cozzutto