TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2023 | STAGE 8 | PAU > PAU
Team SD Worx completed their dominant Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 with an absolute triumph. Marlen Reusser powered to the stage win in the closing ITT of Pau, ahead of Demi Vollering, 2nd on the day but the winner of the Maillot Jaune after she conquered the Tourmalet on Saturday, and Lotte Kopecky, whose performances also bring her the second place in the overall standings! Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) delivered a strong performance but she finishes 3rd due to the split seconds recorded in the ITT. The Polish climber conquers the polka-dot jersey, while Kopecky wins the green jersey on top of her GC achievement. Cédrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT) is the best young rider and Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck) was named the Super Combative of the race.
Among the very first starters, the U23 ITT world champion Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-Suez) immediately sets a strong reference: 30’36” to cover the 22.6km at an average speed of 44.3km/h. Anna Henderson (Jumbo Visma) is 3” faster at the intermediate point (km 12.1) but she can’t keep up with Guazzini’s pace all the way to the finish and eventually drops 15” on the line.
BROWN AND REUSSER UP THE ANTE
The intensity rises with the starts of the Australian ITT champion Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez), a silver medallist in last year’s Worlds, and the European ITT champion Marlen Reusser (SD Worx), a bronze medallist in the Worlds. Brown is 35” faster than her teammate Guazzini after 12.1km … But Reusser starts even stronger, already putting 27” between herself and the Australian champ!
Brown eventually betters Guazzini’s reference by 40” … But Reusser powers to the finish with an average of 51.8km/h in the last 10.5km to build the same gap to Brown and clock a time of 29’15” (46.3km/h).
KOPECKY EDGES NIEWIADOMA BY THE SMALLEST MARGIN
The top-10 riders on GC begin their effort as Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek) sets off at 16:43. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) is the last rider off the ramp, at 17:01. But she’s the best of the GC contenders at the first intermediate point, only 12” behind Reusser, while Kopecky (+30”) threatens Van Vleuten (+1’01”). Niewiadoma is off to a strong start (+31”).
In the end, Vollering seals the overall victory with a 2nd place in the ITT (+10”). Kopecky (+37”) makes it a 1-2-3 for SD Worx … And Niewiadoma eventually drops 1’22”. Kopecky moves past her in the overall standings due to the split seconds recorded in the ITT (27 hundredths of a second for Kopecky vs 48 for Niewiadoma).
YARA KASTELIJN: “I STILL DON’T REALISE”
“I’m really proud to be on the podium today. My crash from two days ago was harder than expected. I felt really bad yesterday and it was a bit like that in the TT as well. We fought through it and I’m proud to win the Super Combativity award. This one is for the team. The stage win was my first pro victory. I still don’t really realise it. In the Tour, you go from one day to the other and you have to stay focused. Tomorrow I’ll go home and then I will realise how strong this was and how cool this is. I have a criterium in the Netherlands and then I’ll go on holiday!”
CÉDRINE KERBAOL: “I AM THE FIRST FRENCH TO WIN A JERSEY”
“The whole team is happy, I’m happy, it’s a success! I am the first French woman to win a jersey in the Tour de France, that’s something. Today, I was hoping to do better but I made do with what I had left. The legs were really tired. It wasn’t terrible, but I did what needed to be done. I have a lot of relatives, friends who are there … It was a great week.”
KASIA NIEWIADOMA: “THE TOURMALET GAVE ME AN AMAZING FEELING”
“It feels amazing to climb again on the podium of the Tour de France. It was a goal of ours. We lost the 2nd place by so little but we have the polka-dot jersey and that’s an extra-bonus. We always kept in mind that we wanted to take every opportunity, for the stages, for the jerseys … So it’s very nice to be in the place I’m in right now, especially after the very hard last two days. The Tourmalet gave me an amazing feeling.
The team has changed this year with Mag [Magnus Bäckstedt, the sports manager] and a lot of new young riders. They changed the whole dynamics. When you have the same people around you, you get into some patterns and you miss the extra trigger to aim for more. I love working with young riders. Once you’ve spent a couple of years in the peloton, you’ve seen some crashes, you experience failure, and you lose some confidence. The younger girls calculate less, worry less, they see less obstacles … And it brought me back to better times.
I’m also happy I’m getting closer to my 30s because every race I do I feel like it’s the hardest race of my life. Every year it gets harder, faster, more professional … I can’t imagine what the level will be like 10 years from now!”
DEMI VOLLERING: “IT’S AMAZING WHAT WE DID”
“I still haven’t had time to realise. Yesterday, I arrived at the hotel at 11:30, we had a very quick massage, shower and off to bed. But then, I couldn’t sleep so I thought about things and I realised a little bit … This morning, I was a bit too relaxed when I woke up and then I reminded myself I still had the goal to do a good time trial.
Yesterday, I just focused on my own effort, and when Annemiek [van Vleuten] crossed the line, I was happy with the gap. I didn’t want ti to be too close before the time trial, I didn’t know if I could do a good time trial.
It’s amazing what we did this week. We’ve had lots of ups, also some downs, and we showed how strong our team is and how motivated we are to get the best of each day, to fight for the wins. We make each other stronger. I love to see it, and I think it’s nice for the world to see you can conquer everything with good people around you. It inspires me a lot.”
LOTTE KOPECKY: “I SURPRISED MYSELF QUITE A LOT”
“I surprised myself quite a lot, especially yesterday. I’ve been one of the best sprinters, one of the best climbers, a good time-trialist … This Tour was just amazing for me! It’s not how I approached it but everything went really good. It’s really nice to be 2nd and to also have an amazing team around me. I didn’t think about it before the Tour so I had nothing to lose today, I just stayed relax and I tried to give everything I had left.
Trying to become a GC rider and to win the Tour is not something on my mind at the moment. I’m really happy with the type of rider I am, I still love the classics the most. I’m not going to try to change, at least not in the coming years. Maybe in a few years but so far I’m happy!
Now I fly to Glasgow for the Worlds and I have my first event on the track next Sunday … I’ll try to recover as much as possible from this Tour.”
MARLEN REUSSER: “IT’S CRAZY”
“I’ve been working all week and I’m quite tired, so I’m very happy with this result. I was aiming for this time. I’m super happy there’s a timer, I think it’s good for the Tour. And to be honest, I’m a bit in shock at our accomplishments. We knew how strong we are coming here. But to conclude like this is crazy.
I am super happy that my work for the team has paid off and that it was seen. Sometimes, you do a lot, and it’s not visible. Going full gas for myself and winning is important for me and it makes it nicer. We are friends with Demi [Vollering] and I knew the deal was to help her and give up on my own ambitions. It’s special, sometimes weird, but I know why I do it.”