2023 Tour de France Femmes – Stage Five Race Report

How the race finished

Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon//Sram Racing) held off the reduced peloton to win Stage Five of the Tour de France Femmes. An attack behind by Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) and Liane Lippert (Movistar) saw them claim the podium places on the stage.

Lotte Kopecky retained her yellow jersey for another day. However, her teammate Demi Vollering slipped to seventh on the overall classification after recieving a 20 second time penalty for drafting behind her team car. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep), who took two bonus seconds today, moved up to second, with Elisa Longo-Borghini (Lidl-Trek) in third overall.  

Full results are available below.

How it happened

Stage five of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes took the women over 126km from Onet-le-Château to Albi. With three categorised climbs, bonus seconds available and a relatively flat run in to the finish, it was anyone’s guess what would happen. On form sprinter Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) did not start the day after suffering from stomach issues, further opening up the stage. 

The rolling climb with steep ramps in the opening kilometres saw a frenetic start. Almost immediately there were splits in the peloton with both Anoska Koster, wearing the polkadot jersey as the leader of the Queen of the Mountains classification, and Cédrine Kerbaol wearing the white jersey as the best young rider, were white dropped from the front bunch.

A break of 11 riders went clear at the highest point of the day’s stage, as the peloton headed onto an undulating plateau.The group was made up of Paula Patino (Movistar), Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx), Amber Kraak (Jumbo Visma), Olivia Baril (UAE Team ADQ), Loes Adegeest (FDJ-Suez), Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep), Claire Steels (Israel Premier Tech Roland), Hannah Ludwig (Uno X Pro Cycling), Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis) and Ella Wyllie (Lifeplus Wahoo).  

After 35km of racing, the riders began a gradual descent down off the plateau. In the peloton behind, teams that missed out on the break including Canyon//Sram, Ceratizit and Fenix Deceuninck worked together to keep the gap to the break at under one minute. 

Around 60km into the race Demi Vollering (SD Worx) had a mechanical, requiring her team mechanics to swap a wheel on her bike. After the change Vollering drafted on the back of her team car all the way back to the peloton – a move that was pulled by the commissaire at the time, and later resulted in a time penalty for Vollering, which could end up having a significant impact on her final placing in the General Classification at the end of the race. 

At the bottom of the first categorised climb of the day, the breakaway was caught – too many skilled climbers were in the group to let it go for the day. A big acceleration came on the front of the peloton, which exploded. By the top of the climb the group was down to around thirty riders. Most of the sprinters dropped, including Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma), Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ Suez) and Kool(dsm-firmenich), along with Koster again. With Koster out the back, Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck) crossed first for the QOM points, bringing her to equal points with Koster. On the next classified climb of the day, the front group rode a steady pace with no attacks, and Kastelijn took the QOM points again.

With 36 kilometres to go, Riejanne Markus (Jumbo Visma) attacked on a small ramp up towards the bonus second climb, but the move was quickly neutralised. Soon after, Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon//Sram) and Claire Steels (Israel Premier Tech Roland) clipped off the front. Bauernfeind pushed on by herself and established a gap on the peloton, while Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio picked up 2 bonus seconds behind.

The peloton was reluctant to chase behind heading towards the final climb of the day, meaning Bauernfeind’s gap quickly grew out to 1.30min with 25km to go. Over the final classified climb of the day, Kastelijn picked up more points in the bunch behind behind Bauernfeind. 

Still with no teams willing to set the pace at the front, the riders instead began launching attacks out of the peloton. Finally with 17 kilometres to go, SD Worx decided to pace. Marlen Reusser came to the front, bringing the attacks to a stop. Bauernfiend still held a gap of over one minute, meaning a hard chase was required. At ten kilometres to go the gap had come down to 40 seconds, but by five kilometres to go the chaser had only managed to find another four seconds. 

Reusser drifted off the front of the peloton on the downhill, with Liane Lippert (Movistar) in her wheel. The pair began to cooperate, working together in pursuit of Bauernfeind. With Canyon//Sram, Movistar and SD Worx now all up the road, FDJ-Suez and AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep began to chase in the peloton. 

In the final two kilometres, Bauernfeind was visible on the road around 25 seconds ahead of Reusser and Lippert. Reusser stopped working, possibly worried about pulling Lippert too far up the General Classification, but in doing so, sealed their fate of coming in second and third. Bauernfeind crossed the line first, taking her first win on the Women’s World Tour, and propelling herself into the top ten overall. 

 

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