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).
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.
Best of Team Radio of the stage