Movistar’s newest signing, Arlenis Sierra, topped 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 from reduced groups on stages 1 and 2, before coming second to teammate Jelena Erić on the final stage after a dominant performance from Movistar in the Vuelta a Andaluciía’s first edition.
“Andalucía is always going to bring me good memories after this,” Sierra said. “We enjoyed the race so much, and I end this first block of racing so happy about what we achieved.”
After finishing in the top 10 three times during the spring Classics and proving a key asset to Annemiek van Vleuten, this week marked Sierra’s first UCI victories of the 2022 season.
“You always fight to achieve victories — and it was a real team effort today, which makes me happy for myself but especially for the girls, who did so well all stage,” she said after her stage 1 victory.
That team effort continued, not just in the work on the road but also in sharing the responsibility and opportunity for stage victories.
“It made me so happy to see Jelena win [on stage 3], because she was our choice for the finish: should she feel well to sprint, she was the one we wanted to go to the line with. I was even cheering for her in the last straight. It was so beautiful for me to end the week like that.”
Though often billed as a sprinter, Sierra’s performances in the cobbled Classics and in Andalucía have shown a depth beyond pure sprinting.
Both her Andalucían wins came from reduced groups after tough, hilly stages, and her top 10s in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders demonstrated that she cannot be counted out on the more rolling courses.
“I also know I tend to struggle at longer climbs because I’m not a pure climber, but I’ll fight. You never know,” Sierra had said after stage 1 in Andalucía, after which the climbs proved no issue.
Despite Van Vleuten being sidelined due to a wrist injury, Movistar have enjoyed the perfect start to a block of Spanish stage races, and will take confidence from a strong team display.
“We’re so happy about these victories, and this week – it’s all been the fruit of magnificent teamwork,” said Erić. “We’ve been able to race calmly all week, always keeping the group together to bridge back against any possible attacks and keep Arlenis well protected.”
For Sierra, her European season will be put on hold, for now.
“Now I’m going back to Cuba, to compete at the Pan American Road Race Championships in Argentina later this month, then I’ll start thinking about the big stage races in the summer.”