Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) displayed again her pure speed as she sprinted to a second stage win in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, four days after she took the first Maillot Jaune in Paris. The Dutch sprinter put a significant distance between her and the World champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), 2nd ahead of Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who slightly increased her GC lead with the time bonuses. On the longest stage of the race, the early attackers survived until they were caught inside the last 3km. They will try again to upset the peloton on Friday with a rolling course towards Rosheim.
The longest route of the week doesn’t deter early attackers. The battle is on from the start in Bar-le-Duc and it takes almost 30km for the situation to settle with a 4-woman breakaway at the front.
A big battle and a significant gap
Emily Newsom (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) and Anya Louw (AG Insurance-NXTG) launch the key move at km 13.5. With other teams, and most notably Human Powered Health, willing to make the break, they struggle to open up a significant gap.
Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) and Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health) join them at the front and the gap increases to a minute at km 27. It reaches a maximum of 3’45’’ atop the first climb of the day, the cat-4 Côte de Pagny-la-Blanche-Côte (km 61.4), where Berteau takes the first QOM points of the day.
Norsgaard Bjerg abandons after a crash
Team DSM are the first team involved in controlling the gap, with Franziska Koch. Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo) also moves to the front of the bunch as the race enters the last 50km with a gap of 2’ from the early attackers to the peloton.
A mass crash involves a few dozens of riders with 46km to go. Among them, Emma Norsgaard Bjerg (Movistar) is forced to abandon. Lotte Kopecky and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) are also involved, with the latter suffering an injury to the right arm.
Wiebes doubles up
The situation returns to normal and the gap drops down to under 1 minute inside the last 25km. Berteau attacks with 21.5km to go, towards the Bonus point of the day. Only Christoforou can follow her, while Louw and Newsom are reeled in by the pack.
Berteau and Christoforou hold on to a gap of 40’’ with 10km to go, and 20’’ under the 5km to go banner. They are eventually caught inside the last 3km. Trek-Segafredo try to set Elisa Balsamo for the win but Elisa Longo Borghini takes a wrong turn inside the last kilometre. It doesn’t unsettle Wiebes, who takes off to victory with two bike lengths between her and Balsamo. Vos rounds out the podium.
Best of Team Radio of the stage