The queen stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 saw an all out battle over the Pyrenean summits. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) already put the hammer down up Col d’Aspin, to try and wear down her rivals, but she couldn’t repeat her one-woman-show from last year, with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) throwing everything she had in this fight, before Demi Vollering (SD Worx) surged on the iconic ascent of the Tourmalet. Through the mist, the Dutch star covered the last 5 kilometres on her own to open significant gaps on the line: 1’58’’ to Niewiadoma and 2’34’’ to Van Vleuten. Vollering also takes the Maillot Jaune on the eve of the closing ITT in Pau.
The higher summits of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023 lie ahead of the 130 riders starting from Lannemezan (after they finished inside the GC top-10 last year, Elisa Longo Borghini and Veronica Ewers don’t start due to physical issues). And many riders are inspired according to the flurry of attacks on the way to the first ascent of the day, up to Col d’Aspin.
With an average of 41.6km/h all the way to km 48, Margot Pompanon (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) and Susanne Andersen (Uno X) are the last attackers to be reeled right at the bottom of the climb.
Van Vleuten opens up the battle
Annemiek van Vleuten’s Movistar immediately set a strong pace that wears down the peloton. And the winner of the Tour 2022 puts the hammer down with 5km to go to the summit of the cat-1 ascent up Col d’Aspin (12km at 6.5%). Only Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) can accompany her. At the summit, Lotte Kopecky, Marlen Reusser (SD Worx), Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), Juliette Labous (DSM-Firmenich), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez), Ane Santesteban (Jayco-AlUla), Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek) trail by 45’’.
Niewiadoma accelerates on the downhill towards the final ascent of the day. Vollering and Van Vleuten look at each other. They’re eventually caught by the chasers, while Niewiadoma keeps pushing. She faces the HC ascent to Col du Tourmalet with a lead of 45’’.
Vollering flies through the mist
With Reusser setting the pace, the gap drops down to 5’’ with 12km to go. But the Swiss powerhouse is done with her work, and the gap increases again, up to 35’’ for the last 10km. Labous tries to attack several times. Vollering, Van Vleuten, Moolman Pasio and Kopecky match her moves.
Vollering eventually attacks with 5.5km to go. And nobody can react. Niewiadoma is caught 500 metres later and the Polich attacker can’t keep up with the pace set but the Dutch climber.
Through the mist, Vollering never looks back. And she celebrates an iconic success with significant gaps: 1’58’’ to Niewiadoma, 2’34’’ to Van Vleuten, 2’43’’ to Moolman Pasio, 2’46’’ to Labous and 3’32’’ to Kopecky, who gives her Maillot Jaune to Vollering on the eve of the final ITT, in Pau.