Women’s Open: Neff puts on a show, Mitterwallner an amazing second

The Swiss is the first leader of 2021 Internazionali d’Italia Series, preceding Austrian Mitterwallner on Andora’s finish line. Italian Sara Cortinovis won the JR race

There was no shortage of contenders for the first GSG leader’s jersey in the Women’s Open race, and it was one of the most awaited and loved athletes of the circuit to dress it. Swiss Jolanda Neff took her first victory of the season with a brilliant performance, redeeming a start that had seen her lose the pace from the early leaders of the race.

At the start, it was Lena Gerault (VCA Anjos Asterion), Sina Frei (Specialized), Anne Terpstra (Ghost), Martina Berta and Greta Seiwald (both SantaCruz-FSA) who hammered the first acceleration. Leading the chase in that phase was World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Absolute Absalon), who later struggled to find her best pace, finishing with an anonymous 16th place.

Already from the second lap, Jolanda Neff showed that she had found the right pedal stroke, returning in the wake of leaders and then accelerating in the third, with what would have proved to be the decisive break.

Behind her, however, an even more impressive and unexpected comeback took place: 17th after lap 1, Austrian Mona Mitterwallner, the 2002-born reigning World Champion in the Junior category, consistently managed to keep just below the 1-minute gap from the lead, recovering positions in the process, and even eroding Jolanda Neff’s advantage in the final lap. In the end, this earned her second place overall, just 37 seconds behind the Swiss champion, as well as the best Under 23 jersey, and a bright future still to be written.

Third place at 43 seconds for a very solid Anne Terpstra, followed by Sina Frei (+0.56) and the best of the Italians, the Andora’s 2019 winner Martina Berta.

It’s great to get to success so early in the season,” said Neff, “actually at the start I tried to stay with the leaders, but I found good sensations on the track and, progressively, the pace to make a difference. I had never raced in Andora, I found a fun, very natural route, and it was a pleasure to be back racing here in Italy after more than a year and a half. I hope that soon we can also find the warmth of the fans, also in view of the World Championships in Val di Sole.

Junior Women: Sara Cortinovis celebrates

Fresh from a good start to the season, Sara Cortinovis (Four Es Racing Team) landed the spoils in the Junior Women category, at the end of a tight duel with Noelle Rüeschi (Swiss National Team) which was only resolved in the final sprint to the line. Third place at 21 seconds for Italian Giulia Challancin (Scott Libarna XCO), who probably expected something more from this Internazionali d’Italia Series debut.

I had already won last week, but today the level was very different, and therefore I am super happy to have repeated,” explained the young athlete from Bergamo. “Cheering on the same finish line as Jolanda Neff a few minutes later added another emotion: she is my role model.