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.
Best of Team Radio of the stage