Smith claims top 20 in World Tour debut at Ceratizit Challenge
September 5, 2021
The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta was full of ups and downs for the Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank team - both in terms of terrain and fortunes.
"Historically, this race has been very much a sprinters' race, but a change of location meant the stages were much hillier than previous editions. The long climbs proved decisive in stages 1 and 3, and stage 2's uphill time trial further sorted the GC," Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank Team Director Rachel Hedderman said.
Kristen Faulkner on her way to a top five on stage 2's uphill time trial. Photo/Twila Muzzi
Stagiaire Abi Smith had an excellent performance in her WorldTour debut, finishing 17th place in the general classification. However, Kristen Faulkner, on her way to a top 10 in the Spanish three-day event, crashed on the penultimate stage and abandoned as a precaution.
Abi Smith finished 17th overall in her World Tour debut. Photo/Twila Muzzi
After a quiet first stage, Faulkner was on fire on stage 2, finishing fourth in the uphill time trial, just 47 seconds behind winner Annemiek van Vleuten. The result bumped her up into the top 10 with two stages to go.
The next day, the hilly road race ended in disappointment for Faulkner, who crashed early on in the stage.
"Kristen just missed the podium on the TT stage, moving to seventh overall before unfortunately crashing out on stage 3. Because she hit her head in the fall, we took the precautionary call to pull her out of the race," Hedderman said.
The Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche is next for the squad, where team leader Lauren Stephens will defend her 2020 title. The seven-day stage race starts on September 8th.