Movistar new signing Arlenis Sierra capped off a strong spring campaign by winning the overall and two of the three stages of this week’s Vuelta a Andalucía.
The 29-year-old Cuban sprinted to victory in reduced groups on Stages 1 and 2, before finishing second to teammate Jelena Erić on the final stage after a dominating performance from Movistar in the first edition of the Vuelta a Andalusia.
“Andalusia will always bring back good memories for me after that,” Sierra said. “We enjoyed the race so much, and I end this first block of racing so happy with what we achieved.
After finishing in the top 10 three times in the Spring Classics and proving a major asset for Annemiek van Vleuten, this week marked Sierra’s first UCI wins of the 2022 season.
“You always fight for wins – and it was a real team effort today, which makes me happy for me but especially for the girls, who did the whole stage so well”, a- she said after her stage 1 victory.
This team effort continued, not only in the work on the road, but also in the sharing of responsibility and the opportunity for stage victories.
“It made me so happy to see Jelena win [on stage 3], because she was our choice for the finish: if she felt good to sprint, it was with her that we wanted to go to the finish. I even encouraged her in the home stretch. It was so beautiful for me to end the week like that.
Although often touted as a sprinter, Sierra’s performances in the Cobblestone Classics and Andalusia showed depth beyond pure sprinting.
Her two Andalusian victories came from small groups after difficult and hilly stages, and her top 10s in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders demonstrated that she could not be counted on the more rolling courses.
“I also know that I tend to struggle on the longer climbs because I’m not a pure climber, but I will fight. You never know,” Sierra said after Stage 1 in Andalusia, after which the climbs were no problem.
Although Van Vleuten was sidelined with a wrist injury, Movistar had a perfect start to a block of Spanish stage races and will gain confidence from a strong team display.
“We are so happy with these victories, and this week it was all about wonderful teamwork,” Erić said. “We were able to run calmly all week, always keeping the group together to bridge possible attacks and keep Arlenis well protected.”
For Sierra, its European season will be suspended, for now.
“Now I’m heading back to Cuba, to compete in the Pan American Road Race Championships in Argentina later this month, and then I’ll start thinking about the big stage races this summer.”