Emma Norsgaard Bjerg (Movistar) was beautifully inspired by the previous attackers’ successes in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 as she powered to a thrilling success in Blagnac, at the end of a fast stage 6. The Dane is among the fastest riders in the bunch… And she decided to make the most of her raw power in the breakaway, joining Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//Sram) and Sandra Alonso (Ceratizit-WNT) at the front of the race. The peloton almost came back… But for the third day in a row, an attacker claimed glory, as Charlotte Kool (DSM-Firmenich) dominated the sprint from the bunch and finished 2nd, 1’’ behind the 24 year-old day, who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday. After a fast and furious six days of racing, the riders head into the decisive final week-end of the race, with a summit finish at Col du Tourmalet on Saturday and the Pau ITT on Sunday.
After they saw breakaway riders succeed on days 4 and 5, many riders want to race aggressively. April Tacey (Lifplus Wahoo) is the first attacker to open a proper gap but she’s caught ahead of the first ascent of the day, the cat-4 Côte de la Cadène (summit at km 30.9).
Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//Sram) sets off at km 29 and Sandra Alonso (Ceratizit-WNT) tries to follow her, unsuccessfully. Emma Norsgaard Bjerg (Movistar) attacks over the top, joins Alonso, and the two of them eventually get back to the Polish ITT national champion on the second ascent of the day, the cat-4 Côte de Puycelsi (km 51.3). The peloton trail by 2’… But more aggressive racing is about to unfold.
Intense racing sees Kool trail behind
Lidl-Trek and FDJ-Suez are determined to get on the move, with several attacks from Amanda Spratt, Lizzie Deignan, Jade Wiel and Grace Brown. With a very hard pace on the Côte de Puycelsi and the following Côte du Clos Pourtié (cat. 4, km 58), the gap to the front trio drops down to 40’’ and Charlotte Kool (DSM-Firmenich), one of the hot favourites of the day, is momentarily dropped.
Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck), leader of the QOM standings, and Veronica Ewers (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), a contender for the GC top 10, are involved in a crash with 49km to go. The polka-dot jersey quickly resumes racing while the American struggles to get back up but refuses to give up.
Another thrilling finale
An intense battle is engaged between the front trio and the peloton, mostly led by Charlotte Kool’s DSM-Firmenich, Marianne Vos’ Jumbo-Visma and Chiara Consonni’s UAE Team ADQ. The gap is down to 45’’ into the last 10 kilometres, and 18’’ with 5 kilometres to go…
Norsgaard Bjerg ups the ante with 4km to go and Alonso is dropped. But Skalniak-Sojka is still up there and the gap is still up to 10’’ with 1 kilometre to go! The Dane opens up her sprint with 400 metres to go… Her Polish companion is caught inside the last 100 metres but Norsgaard Bjerg manages to maintain a gap of 1’’ to Charlotte Kool on the line!