While women’s cycling celebrates the successful conclusion of the first-ever Tour de Suisse Women – won on Sunday by Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo Women) -, more good news comes from Central America where the Vuelta Internacional Femenina a Guatemala gets underway on Wednesday June 9.
This national tour for women, registered on the UCI Road International Calendar (class 2.2) since 2018, celebrates its 20th edition this year. A particular victory for Manuel Estuardo Rodriguez Valladares, President of the organising federation Federación Guatemalteca de Ciclismo, given the complications generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have received the endorsement of the Minister of Public Health, María Amelia Flores, to stage this edition and we have committed to comply with the biosafety protocols… Although they are demanding, we know that they will serve to keep transmission within the bubble to zero, just as we did last year with the men’s race [the Vuelta Ciclistica Internacional a Guatemala held last October],” explained the Guatemalan Federation President.
From June 9 to 13, the 64-strong women’s peloton will cover 413.5km through the departments of Sacatepéquez, Escuintla, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Sololá and Guatemala City. For the first two stages along the coast, heat is likely to add to the difficulty of racing, before the peloton heads to the mountains for stages three and four where the climate is cooler and more humid.
At 102.5km, the first stage is the longest and mainly flat as the riders head along the South Coast from Ciudad Vieja (Old City) to Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. The coastal route will continue over 78 km the next day, before the riders tackle, on stage three, a demanding seven-lap circuit finishing atop the El Baúl hill, at 2650 metres, with its magnificent views over Quetzaltenango. At 85km, the fourth stage will be 3km shorter than the previous day, before the final classification is decided on the final stage circuit in the capital Guatemala City, for a total of 60km.
With seven foreign teams lining up alongside teams from Guatemala, the peloton will include riders from Guatemala, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Germany.
There is no shortage of competition, with starters including the winner of the last edition, Colombian Liliana Moreno, then Astana Women’s Team but now riding in the colours of Merquimia Proyecta, a team she says is on the rise: “For me it is honorable (to be on this Colombian team) and I am very happy, because they are the ones who have supported me throughout my sports career… I will represent them with a lot of passion as always.”
Another favourite comes in the form of Ecuadorian Miriam Núñez (Liro Sport–Alcaldía La Vega), winner of the 2020 Vuelta a Colombia Femenina and winner of the mountains classification at the last Vuelta Femenina a Guatemala.
Vuelta Internacional Femenina a Guatemala stages
9 June: Old City- Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa (102.5km)
10 June: Retalhuleu- Ayutla (78km)
11 June: Quetzaltenango Circuit - Cerro El Baúl (88km)
12 June: Pamezabal- San Juan Argueta. (85km)
13 June: Reforma Avenue-Las Américas Avenue Circuit (60km)