TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2022 | STAGE 7 | SÉLESTAT > LE MARKSTEIN FELLERING
LE MARKSTEIN FELLERING, France (July 30, 2022) — Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) delivered a fantastic one-woman show on Saturday, as stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift took the riders into the Vosges mountains. There were three cat-1 ascents to overcome on the way to the finish at Le Markstein, and the Dutch climber went on the move as early as she hit the first slopes up Petit Ballon. She then dropped Vollering on the following climb, Col du Platzerwasel, to go solo 62km away from the finish. She capped off her dominant ride with another strong ascent, on Grand Ballon, to open major gaps and take the Maillot Jaune. She will have to defend it on the way to La Super Planche des Belles Filles, where the winner of the Tour will be crowned on Sunday.
The “queen stage” of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift brings awe and motivation in the peloton. With many attacks and counter-attacks, the peloton fly towards the first ascent of the day, the cat-1 Petit Ballon. 33 attackers, including the World champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), open a gap of 50’’ just before the ascent. But Movistar have other ideas for the day…
Movistar launch Van Vleuten
The attackers are caught as soon as they hit the first slopes up Petit Ballon (9.3km at 8.1%, summit at km 48.6). Only a dozen of riders remain at the front of the race, the yellow jersey Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) is not part of them… And Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) already attacks.
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) follows Van Vleuten while Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) sets off in pursuit. Behind them, a group of chasers emerge with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Grace Brown, Evita Muzic (FDJ Suez Futuroscope), Juliette Labous (Team DSM), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) and Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service). At the summit, Longo Borghini trails by 1’25’’, the chase group by 2’30’’ and Vos by 7’45’’.
Van Vleuten opens up impressive gaps
Van Vleuten sets a strong pace on the following ascent, the cat-1 Col du Platzerwasel (7.1km at 8.3%, km 65.8). The Dutch star drops her younger compatriot inside the last kilometre of ascent and goes solo 62km away from the finish. As she returns to the valley leading to the final climb of the day, Van Vleuten has a gap of 1’25’’ to her first chaser, 5’20’’ to Longo Borghini and 6’20’’ to the chase group.
At the bottom of the final climb, the gap to Vollering is up to 2’20’’. She keeps losing ground on the final ascent, while the battle for the third position unfolds behind her. Persico is dropped from the chase group with 15km to go, and Longo Borghini is caught just after.
Vollering holds on behind Van Vleuten
While Van Vleuten keeps pushing her lead at the front, Niewiadoma ups the pace with 12km to go. Only Labous and Ludwig can follow her; Longo Borghini and Persico (who had briefly returned to the group) are dropped with Zigart.
Van Vleuten summits the final climb with a gap of 3’30’’ to Vollering and swiftly covers the final 7.2km to take the stage win and the Maillot Jaune. With a gap of 5’16’’, Ludwig sprints to the 3rd place ahead of Labous and Niewiadoma, who takes the 3rd place overall.
Demi Vollering: “There was a big group up front with around 30 girls. We had Chantal [Van den Broek-Blaak] and Christine [Majerus] there and we hoped that the group could survive the first two climbs but they didn’t get much time. The speed coming into the first climb was pretty high already, and then I was in front with Ashleigh [Mooman-Pasio] and I wanted to stay up there to avoid trouble. I saw Annemiek [Van Vleuten] and I let her do the pace. She had a teammate with her and they moved to the front. And I was like: ‘Ok, I need to stay focused because they’re trying something already.' Her teammate was a bit empty so she went already. I was immediately in the wheel but I was alone with her. It was a pity to not have but I was happy I could hang on. I felt really good on the first climb. I was really confident I could do it today. But the second climb, the last kilometre, I just couldn’t go with that speed. It was too much for me. I fought with everything I had today and I know I’m in a really good shape so I think I cannot be unhappy. It’s a pretty special race and looking at the gaps to the other girls, it’s also pretty big. That’s something really nice for the future as well. I’m still young.”
Annemiek van Vleuten: “It’s one of the biggest wins of my career, especially because I know where I come from. I was super close to abandoning when I was sick at the beginning of the Tour. On day 2, I couldn’t pack my suitcase myself. I didn’t think it was still possible to wear the Yellow Jersey. It’s a little bit of a miracle. At 39 years old, I’ve improved my fitness level every year and I know I can go from the first climb. When I attacked, it was a tactical move, because Demi [Vollering] wasn’t taking turns and there was a 25km valley before the final climb, so I wanted to drop her there. But for sure, to win solo is nicer than a sprint. I was able to enjoy the crowds. The Tour is exceeding my expectations. In every village, you can feel that the Tour comes to life.”
Marianne Vos: “I didn’t see it coming. From the bottom of the climb it was full gas. The pace was already so hard that riders were dropped and I didn’t feel that good. I saw at the front that they were attacking already, I was just trying to find the pace. And quite early we’re already out of reach. I’m very happy with the week, being able to take stage victories and also to ride with the Yellow Jersey until today has been really special, but I’m very happy to swap to the green jersey for the last day tomorrow. This whole week has been incredible and probably after tomorrow, when we go home and have little rest, all the emotions and everything sinks in. Again we will try to recover from today a little bit and go for the next one.”