Ladies Thalita de Jong looks back on impressive Itzulia: "I've surprised myself a bit here."

That's what they call ending on a high note: Thalita de Jong finished second in the final stage of the Itzulia Basque Country. This wraps up her Tour of the Basque Country with an impressive seventh place in the general classification.
12 May 2024

"I am very happy," laughs Thalita de Jong (30) after the third and final stage of the Itzulia. "I surprised myself!" The riders were once again faced with a challenging stage today, with three climbs along the way. "I'm not a climber, so I started the last and steepest climb of the day cautiously and a bit behind. But it went so well! I stayed calm, rode at my own pace, and passed the others one by one."

De Jong was able to join a group along the way, including Marlen Reusser (SD Worx-Protime) and Juliette Labous (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL). "At that moment, we were 15 seconds behind leader Demi Vollering (SD Worx-Protime), and all I could think was: we just need to keep riding. Eventually, we pulled away with ten girls to the finish. Labous and Reusser, but also Pauliena Rooijakkers (Fenix-Deceuninck), Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek), Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx-Protime), were among them. In short: a very nice group with big names. We even got closer to Vollering, but when it became clear that the gap couldn't be closed anymore, some started to skip turns, of course."

"In the last two kilometers, we were almost surprised when suddenly the group from behind appeared to be catching up. We were really pushing hard, but Movistar didn't have a rider in the front and obviously caused some chaos there. Fortunately, we stayed ahead. In the end, it was still a fight to stay up front to start the sprint, with a finish with many turns in the city, but I made it."

De Jong looks back on the Itzulia with a particularly good feeling. She never finished outside the top ten, securing a seventh place in the GC. "If that group hadn't caught up from behind, I would have even finished third overall. But the top twenty was so close together that there was still a lot possible today. It's a pity that Movistar rode so hard, but with a seventh place in the overall standings, I absolutely can't complain. I know that I get better with each day in a stage race, but I surprise myself here. This gives a lot of confidence heading towards the Tour de France."

 

Picture: Orbea