Emakumeen Bira 2017

I have only been once to the Basque Country before, back in 2009, when I photographed a cyclocross World Cup race in Igorre. It was a cursory visit, flew in an out quickly, at the time I still had a day job, which meant there was no wandering around on the cards. Long story short, I didn’t know what to expect from the Emakumeen Bira race. While I came with low expectations, after spending a week driving up and down all day long, I am in awe of the beauty of this part of the world. It is probably most similar to the Ardennes (another place that is close to my heart) but it is a bit more rugged, a bit wilder.

Enjoy this short summary of the past week and visit Bilbao and the Basque Country if you can!

 

A Drops Cycling Team team mechanic checks out the finishing straight of Stage 1

Giusfredi Bianchi Cycling Team riders prepare for Stage 1

Hayley Simmonds uses a unique way to store in-race nutrition

The peloton approaches Axpe during on Stage 1

Marta Bastianelli (ITA) of Ale-Cipollini Cycling Team encounters an unexpected speed bump after finishing (and winning) Stage 1

Raindrops of the Drops Cycling Team team car before Stage 2

Bizkaia-Durango Cycling Team riders stand next to sign, made by supporters before Stage 2

Cecilia Uttrup Ludwig (DEN) of Cervélo-Bigla Cycling Team gets a final leg rub before Stage 2

The pelonton is around thirty seconds behind Bravard on the second climb of Stage 2

Stage 2 of the Emakumeen Bira – a 90.8 km road race, starting and finishing in Markina Xemein on May 18, 2017, in Basque Country, Spain. (Photo by Balint Hamvas/Velofocus)

A rider helps the Ale-Cipollini Cycling Team car to park before Stage 3

Team cars were parked in a covered sports space before Stage 3

I thought this would be a good spot, I even climbed up on high contraption, regardless of my fear of heights. What I didn’t foresee was that the police would force all the traffic on this little lay-by, including two big trucks. I ended up being lucky enough to catch a sliver of the action between those pesky trucks…

Francesca Cauz (ITA) of Giusfredi Bianchi Cycling Team climbs the main climb of Stage 3

Irina Ivanova (RUS) of Team Russa finishes Stage 3

Spectators enjoy the podium ceremony of Stage

Fans greet Ashleigh Moolmann-Pasio at the podium ceremony after Stage 3

The locals enjoy the sunshine and the spectacle of Stage 4

Team WNT bikes are lined up in an alley before Stage 4

Colour clash

Christina Perchtold (AUT) of Cervélo-Bigla Cycling Team leads the peloton in the first part of Stage 4

Post-race talk at the Drops Cycling Team camp after Stage 4

Team Espana cars are parked in the yard of a paper factory before Stage 5

And they are off for the final stage!

Riders descend on a fast downhill section of Stage 5

Ashleigh Moolmann-Pasio approaches the top of the hardest climb of Stage 5 (and the race)

Hayley Simmonds digs deep in the final few hundred meters of the hardest climb of Stage 5

Cervélo-Bigla Cycling Team riders take a selfie while Ashleigh Moolmann-Pasio (RSA) puts on the best climber’s jersey on the podium after Stage 5

Ashleigh Moolmann-Pasio celebrates winning the overall after Stage 5

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