TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2022 | STAGE 4 | TROYES > BAR-SUR-AUBE
BAR-SUR-AUBE, France (July 27, 2022) — The European time-trial champion Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) made the most of her skills to take a spectacular solo victory in Bar-sur-Aube, at the end of stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The Swiss powerhouse attacked with 23km to go, ahead of the final gravel section of the day, and eventually triumphed in Bar-sur-Aube with a gap of 1’24’’ on Evita Muzic. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) resisted the many attacks launched by her rivals and eventually dominated them in the final sprint while Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) lost almost 2 minutes as she suffered mechanical incidents and a crash. Vos will wear the Maillot Jaune for a third day on stage 5, as the peloton take on the longest stage of the Tour (175.6km towards Saint-Dié-des-Vosges).
As always since the start of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the battle for the breakaway is an intense one from the start. It takes many attacks, counter-attacks and follow up moves for a breakaway to establish on the way to Bar-sur-Aube, to be reached after 126.8km.
The World champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) tries to get away with a 23-rider group but Movistar control that move. 42.5km are covered in the first hour before a group of three riders manage to make the break: Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT), Valérie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra) and Coralie Demay (St-Michel Auber 93).
They open a gap of up to 2’40’’ en route to the first categorised ascent of the day, the cat-3 Côte de Celles-sur-Ource (summit at km 68.1), to be immediately followed by the first “white road”, the Chemin blanc de Celles (2,300m). The intensity increases in the bunch with many teams battling for the front positions and the gap quickly drops down.
First white roads
Demey can’t keep up with the pace set by Asencio and Demay while a race of attrition begins in the bunch. Canyon//Sram, SD Worx, Trek-Segafredo and Jumbo-Visma are the most involved teams to set the pace behind the attackers.
Demay goes solo at the front on the 2nd ascent of the day, the cat-3 Côte du Val des Clos (km 77.3). Around 50 riders remain in the front bunch when they eventually catch Demay at km 90, on the penultimate and longest white road of the day, Chemin blanc du plateau de Blu (4,400m).
On the gravel, Kasia Niewiadoma (3rd on GC, Canyon//Sram), Mavi Garcia (6th, UAE Team ADQ) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (10th, FDJ Suez Futuroscope) all suffer mechanicals. They manage to get back to the front bunch on the cat-4 Côte de Maître Jean (km 98.6).
Marianne Vos: “Looking back at today, we’ve been quite safe with the team, we tried to stay in the right position, to stay in contention for the win as well but when Reusser attacked it was a very strong moment and then we also knew that it’s difficult to cover everything. And to keep the yellow jersey is a very nice thing. It’s a good day. Gravel is great when you’re at the front, and much less enjoyable when you’re further back. I really enjoyed today also with the spectators along the course again. The team kept me out of trouble the whole day. And I think it was the most important thing. I’m very happy. It’s also nice to have good points for the green jersey but until now it hasn’t been the main focus.”
The key attack
Marlen Reusser attacks with 23km to go and quickly opens a gap. She has a lead of 25’’ as she enters the final 20km and faces the last gravel section of the day. Niewiadoma tries to attack several times, Vos also moves, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) has a late puncture, but the GC contenders stay together except for Garcia, who sustains another mechanical and eventually crashes inside the last 15km.
Alena Amialiusik (Canyon//Sram), Evita Muzic (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope) and Veronica Ewers (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) successively set off in pursuit and get together on the Côte des Bergères, the penultimate ascent of the day. But Reusser is too far away and she forges on on the last climb of the day, Côte du Val Perdu, to power to victory.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx): “We did it! The team had a plan to make it a hard race and to not let it come down to an easy finale. We said we would attack and one would go. Then I was lucky it was me. We have our GC leaders, we always keep them in front, but this team always has an open and aggressive strategy, so everybody is allowed to go for the win. We all work together, we help each other and we attack. I was the lucky one. I’m really grateful for my team and my teammates. In this Tour, every day is hard, at least for me every day was hard. This stage suits the kind of rider I am with these gravel sections. It was hard but it was not as hard as other stages for me. I was very sad to miss the Tour de Suisse [with Covid-19], I missed the Nationals, but at the same time I was thinking it could be good for the latter part of the season. I know you can come back very fast and strong when you work well. So maybe in the end it’s a good thing. I’m fine with that.”
Femke Gerritse: “I’m lucky now ! I have to thank my teammate Mischa [Bredewold] because she took points in the first group so I have to give her a kiss tonight I think! She beat Elise Chabbey, really? Oh, that’s really nice, I didn’t know! Tomorrow, it should be easier to keep the jersey, there is only two sprints and they are less steep than today. So we’ll try again to gain some points. I did enjoy today. When I was dropped I was like: ‘Oh, sh… !' But yes it was a nice parcours, and I enjoyed it in this jersey. On every mountain there was a lot of people, also in the same jersey as me and they were screaming! So that was very nice.”