TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2022 | STAGE 8 | LURE > LA SUPER PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES
LA SUPER PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES, France (July 31, 2022) — Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is the best climber and the first winner of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The Dutch star claimed her second victory in two days, on Sunday, as she tamed the gruelling ascent to La Super Planche des Belles Filles to secure the overall victory. Again, Demi Vollering (SD Worx) was runner-up at the summit to also secure the 2nd place in the overall standings and the polka-dot jersey as Queen of the Mountains. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) rounds up the GC podium of this first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift after 8 days of intense racing since the start in Paris.
The final showdown starts with fast battles as early as the 109-woman peloton (without Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Anna Henderson) start from Lure. The peloton cover almost 40km in the first hour and no break manages to get away.
Garcia and Chabbey on the move
New attacks fly on the first ascent of the day, the cat-2 Côte d’Esmoulières (summit at km 52.5) but Demi Vollering (SD Worx) brings the main GC riders back to the front as she sprints for the QOM points to strengthen her stranglehold on the polka-dot jersey.
After the summit, 10 attackers manage to open a gap, including two members of the GC top-10, Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ, 9th +12’06’’) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram Racing, 10th +12’24’’). They are joined by Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), Paula Patiño (Movistar), Grace Brown (FDJ Suez Futuroscope), Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma), Liane Lippert (Team DSM), Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon//Sram), Yara Kastelijn (Plantur Pura) and Coralie Demay (St Michel Auber 93).
Van Vleuten’s struggle
While the break establishes itself at the front, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) sustains mechanical issues that force her to change her bike on three occasions, after she already did so in the neutral zone at the beginning of the stage.
First, she takes her teammate Arlenis Sierra’s bike and returns to the bunch at km 69. But SD Worx up the ante and create splits. Sheyla Gutierrez and Aude Biannic try to pace Van Vleuten back, until she takes matters in her own hands towards the cat-1 ascent up Ballon d’Alsace (km84.6). She bridges the gap on the first slopes… and stops two more times on the ascent to change bike.
A tight battle with the break
Demi Vollering (SD Worx), 2nd in the overall standings (+3’14’’), attacks three times on the ascent and also maintains pressure on the way down, but Van Vleuten reacts every time. Mavi Garcia is the first rider at the summit with a gap of 1’10’’ to the GC group.
On the valley towards the final ascent of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, La Super Planche des Belles Filles (7km, 8.7%), Trek-Segafredo and Canyon//Sram Racing work together to move closer to the attackers.
Van Vleuten asserts her authority
Pauliena Rooijakkers attacks at the bottom of the ascent, Mavi Garcia follows her move. But the GC contenders only trail by 20’’.
Mavi Garcia: “I’ve had lots of problems during this Tour, two crashes… I was unlucky and I was in very good shape so it was a bit sad because I wanted to be up there but it wasn’t possible with all these issues. Today, with the time lost, I wasn’t sure what I could do because my body wasn’t responding so well but I wanted to try at least, to not go home like this. There wasn’t a great cooperation in the break but I had nothing to lose so I tried. It could have been better if we had gotten more time but I’m satisfied. In the end, I had done everything I could, so I just focused on enjoying the fans on the roadside. It’s a privilege to do this race here. It was very hard but the people push you and I was also encouraging them. It was great.”
Van Vleuten attacks 6km away from the summit. She catches and drops the last attackers with 5.5km to go. Again, Vollering is the strongest rider in pursuit. But she can’t match Van Vleuten’s pace, as the Dutch climber flies to her second stage victory and the overall win in the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
Kasia Niewiadoma: “I haven’t had enough time to let it sink in but a top 3 in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is something I’ve been dreaming of ever since I found out we were gonna have this race. This and the victory in the team standings, it makes me extremely happy and proud of my teammates. I’ve been enjoying the first days with explosive climbs. That’s what I’ve been focusing on for most of my career, for the classics. And the last stages were about surviving and pushing ourselves to the limit. It definitely was one of the hardest races we’ve ever done. And it was amazing to see all the fans on the side of the road. We received a lot of energy, it motivated us to go harder. The attention from social media and TV was also special. It was really nice to be in this position to give something to the public and that the public gives back to us.”
Annemiek van Vleuten: “To win in Yellow, especially at La Planche des Belles Filles, that’s something I wanted since we did the recon. That was the best I could think to finish it off. I enjoyed it a lot with all the spectators shouting when I was riding up and also coming down. After being sick on days 2 and 3, I can’t believe I’m here with the jersey. It made it crazy hard. I think it was a really good balanced course, with sprints, intermediate stages and two hard days in the mountains. It was way harder than the other stage races we usually do. I felt part of the Tour. I think it was a great way to start the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. And I think we can build from here for the next years.”
Demi Vollering: “I tried really hard. At the beginning of the final climb, [Annemiek van Vleuten] went too fast and I needed to go at my own speed otherwise I would blow up. Then I could not make it so I thought : ‘I go my own speed, and maybe in the gravel part, that could suit me, maybe I can come back with her.' But, yeah, I didn't make it, but I was fighting really hard today. [When Van Vleuten got a puncture] We went straight to the front and started riding, also Trek tried but, yeah, I think she was pretty fast back with a teammate's bike. I tried something myself and I tried to say to the girls in our group that we needed to go and needed to ride but they didn't really want to go. So yeah it was a bit sad, I think. But still I tried to put her under pressure so that she would have a hard time, and maybe we could handle her here. I tried everything today to beat her. I'm really happy that I could keep the polka-dot jersey. I knew that if I had the first sprint, then, I would just need to be 2nd here, at least, to keep it. That was also à motivation of course.”
Marianne Vos : “We were here to try our best everyday from the first day on. The team did an amazing job to put me there everyday. With 2 stage wins it was more than we could expect, and also riding in yellow and going back home with the green jersey it's fantastic. I would nearly say that I enjoyed every moment of it, but of course I've suffered as long. It has been an amazing week but yeah that makes me more satisfying. It was a great pleasure to be part at this first Tour.”
Shirin van Anrooij: “Today has been really hard I felt that my legs were not so good it was just surviving until the top and I was only looking for the White Jersey. I was just fighting and in the end it was enough, so I'm happy. No I didn't think about it actually [being forever on the picture of the winners of the first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift]! But it's cool and I'm just super happy about it. For sure, it was my first long stage race, and for a first it was so hard. I was just trying to be there for the team, which was really cool to really race as a team for Elisa [Longo Borghini], and then, in the end, I could go for the White Jersey yesterday. I learned so much again and I also learn to suffer more than ever. So I think i can only grow from this Tour.”