Eider Merino gives Movistar Team another bronze at road race Nationals
22 August 2020

2020 Spanish Championships

Basque climber shows great consistency to keep Telefónica-backed squad on the podium, as Mavi García (ALE) completes double ahead of Ane Santesteban (WNT).

/ Today’s route

A grueling 104km course in Úbeda and Baeza, with four laps and 500m elevation gain at each loop, awaited the riders into a Spanish road race Championship which again honoured its recent tradition of offering tough routes for climbers. An alleviating factor for 2020, though, was that the race was held in the early morning in late August, and not in an afternoon of late June.

/ Weather report

The sun still shone, as in previous editions, with mild temperatures for the area, from 20 to 30ºC in Baeza and calm winds. A great choice by the organisers to change the schedule for the Nationals’ women’s road race, which made for better weather for cycling.

Team introduction in Úbeda. (c) RFEC

/ Keys to the race

  • Already since lap one, the pace was high and the favourites were all by themselves. After just 20km, a 15-rider group went off the front with Alicia González, Lourdes Oyarbide and Sheyla Gutiérrez joining the likes of García (ALE), Santesteban (WNT), Lucía González (BDU) or Sara Martín (SWT). Eider Merino and Gloria Rodríguez would later bridge back to a selected peloton composed by about 35 riders.
  • The decisive move came on lap two, with a huge attack by Mavi García (ALE) into the climb to Baeza, which only Ane Santesteban (WNT) could follow. Behind, and despite furious attempts to go after them, Gutiérrez was left behind a pursuit group of ten riders, alongside González, Merino and Rodríguez, which completed that lap (-50km) at 1’50” from the two leaders.
Gloria Rodríguez rode her heart out to reduce the gaps. (c) Photo Gomez Sport
  • Despite Gloria Rodríguez’s big turns on lap three, which slightly reduced the gaps, the fight for gold was restricted to the two leaders, while Merino and Gutiérrez tried some attacks for bronze into the last 25km. Eider would eventually open a gap before the last climb of Baeza, alongside a great Irene Méndez (RMC), whom Merino could only leave behind with 5km to go. Ahead of them, García easily dropped Santesteban to complete a brilliant double.
Alicia González into one of multiple early attacks. (c) Photo Gomez Sport

/ Reaction

Eider Merino: “This medal is sort of a ‘mini-prize’ for the whole team. Things didn’t go well for us, and it’s a way to pay them back after the efforts by the whole squad, not only myself. The day started on the back foot for me, I couldn’t find the pace and lost contact with the leaders in the early splits. But thanks to Gloria’s support, who told me not to lose focus, to stay into the race, that it was so long before the finish – I was able to turn the tables. Lap by lap I saw I really wasn’t having the best legs, but we continued to give it a try as a team. First with Alicia, who found better condition than me even if he bonked near the end; then with Sheyla and Gloria, pushing into the descents – and in the end, with that final chance for myself I tried to make the most of for the bronze. Mavi and Ane were many steps ahead today, we can’t do anything but congratulate them on a great show.”

Eider Merino dedicates her 3rd place to her team-mates at the finish. (c) Fran Reyes

/ Aude Biannic 36th in French RR

/ Upcoming goals

The Spanish portion of the Movistar Team will travel this weekend to Brittany, France, to contest the European road race championships on Thursday 27th. Before that, on Tuesday 25th, the GP Plouay will see the Blues back into the WWT, with another French round of the world’s top tier held on Saturday 29th: La Course, in Nice.

Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport