WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling headed to the Basque Country for the next round of the Women’s World Tour, Emakumeen Bira. Everyone came to the start on the 19th of May with high hopes and after four days of tough racing it finished with Aafke Soet pulling on the pink jersey of best under 23.
Hayley Simmonds, Natalie Grinczer, Anna Badegruber, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin, Elise Maes and Soet would take on the challenging stage race in the home of Orbea made up of three road stages and one ITT. After the individual time trial on day two Aafke first pulled on the pink leader’s jersey. With this, the team’s aim was to defend her slender lead for remaining two days of racing. Unfortunately it didn't stay on Aafke’s shoulders for long, losing it on day three and going in to the final stage 23 seconds adrift.
The final stage started in aggressive manner, a blistering speed thanks to the many attacks. WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling were sadly down to only four riders with Simmonds and Pilote-Fortin forced to withdraw due to injury and illness. So it was left up to Anna, Natalie and Elise to do all they could to make sure Aafke was in the best place possible to make the time back. The main split came over the mountain and Aafke showed great tenacity on her ROTOR UNO disc brake equipped Orbea making it to main selection.
Speaking after, Natalie Grinczer said “It was really aggressive and it was hard to keep Aafke in position with the style of racing, the core group stayed together over the first QOM but going in to the Urkiola mountain, Aafke made the main selection and once she was there I had full confidence she would be there until the end. It was a fantastic end to the race.”
Aafke said "We went up the second climb, and Amanda Spratt attacked, and I was thinking just ride my own speed, because I was unsure of how strong I was going to be, surrounded by such a strong group of 14 riders. In the closing kilometres, there was some attacks, I got dropped, but on the descent I fortunately got back on. I just gave it my all, and in the end it was enough to take the jersey back."
Aafke followed the attacks that were dangerous and raced with experience and poise well above her young age to win back the jersey by 18 seconds. At the finish Aafke was greeted by her parents and with WNT-Iberica sponsoring Emakumeen Bira, the WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling fan club of WNT Iberica employees, enjoyed the win together with the team. An incredible end to the four days. We can’t thank ROTOR, Orbea and WNT-Iberica enough for their support, especially in their home race and to come away with such a great result for Aafke and the whole team we can’t wait to return to Spain later this year for the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta.