Margarita Victoria ‘Mavi’ García (Alé BTC Ljubljana) was a happy rider after the Strade Bianche finish despite losing out to Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) on the final climb and finishing in second place, 22 seconds behind the world champion.
García had attacked a long way from the finish and went on a 40-kilometre solo. For some time, she looked like the prospective winner, still enjoying a lead of three minutes on the closest chasers as she entered the last three gravel sectors with 25 km to go, though those GPS timings turned out to be not all that reliable in the final.
“For a moment, with about fifteen kilometres left, I thought I could win," said García. “But then Van Vleuten reduced my advantage a lot in a short time. When she caught me, I tried to recover and finish well, maybe be able to attack her, but she was simply too strong.”
The 36-year-old is a relative late comer to pro cycling, competing in athletics as a twenty-something and winning three national duathlon titles. She only began to race pro races in 2015, at the age of 31, but already in her second season, she won the Spanish championship.
García has an entertaining racing style, never afraid of attacking, and has often been in long breakaways – but so far, the 2016 Spanish road race championship and the time trial title two years later remain her only victories, accompanied by a long string of second places.
García showed good form at the three Spanish races that re-started the women’s cycling season in late July and was selected for her Strade Bianche debut by Alé BTC Ljubljana.
“The gravel sections were very difficult," García admitted. “But I am happy, I could show that I had a lot of strength and go solo. I did many kilometres on my own, and in the end, it was not to be. But racing like this and getting a second place here is like a victory for me.”