How the race finished
Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) took the stage win for SD Worx after a long solo break by Julie van de Velde (Fenix Deceuninck) was caught on the line. Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) and Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) completed the podium.
Kopecky extended her lead in the general classification, now holding 55 seconds ahead of Liane Lippert (Movistar) and 1 minute and 5 seconds ahead of Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep), who is on the same time as the main GC contenders.
Full results are available below.
How it happened
Stage three of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes was largely noted as one for the sprinters. But with the rolling 147km route from Collonges-la-rouge to Montignac-Lascaux being peppered with short categorised climbs, opportunistic teams with their eyes on the mountains jersey or a breakaway win were prepared to force the sprinters’ teams to work for it.
Kathrin Hammes (EF Education Tibco SVB) attacked from the gun, extending her advantage out to nearly a minute at just 11km into the race. Attacks behind increased the pace in the peloton and the gap came down a little, but with no one else able to escape, the time slipped out again.
On the first climb of the day, the Côte du Peyroux, Hammes picked up the two available QOM points. Back in the peloton, Anouska Koster (Uno X Pro Cycling), yesterday’s most aggressive rider, picked up the single remaining point on offer. A group of three set out in pursuit of Hammes, but were quickly reabsorbed.
Next to try to bridge was Grace Brown (FDJ Suez), who was caught by the group. Hammes stayed away, picking up points atop the Côte de Pératel and the Côte de Peyroux. Behind her, Koster picked up a few more points, as did her breakaway companion from yesterday, Yara Kastelijn (Fenix Deceuninck), the current wearer of the QOM jersey.
Before the Côte de l’escurotte Coryn Labecki (Jumbo Visma) made two attempts to bridge across to Hammes. On the second attempt, she got to within 40 seconds of Hammes, but we ultimately left hanging between Hammes and the peloton behind, before eventually being reeled back in. The regrouping resulted in a slew of new attacks, spearheaded by Julie van de Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) who wasn’t allowed to get any space. Amber Kraak (Jumbo-Visma) got clear and bridged to Hammes, but the rest of the peloton were right behind.
With everything back together again the attacks continued to fly. Thalita de Jong (Liv Racing TeqFind) and Tiril Jørgensen (Team Coop-Hitec Products) were among those who tried but were not allowed to get away. Lidl-Trek, Canyon//Sram Racing and Jumbo-Visma all saw an opportunity to put pressure on SD Worx, with the big names launching a series of attacks that saw small groups form and then be reeled back in.
Julie van de Velde (Fenix Deceuninck) attacked on the penultimate climb and built a small lead, taking maximum points over the top. From the peloton, Koster outsprinted Kastelijn to take the remaining points, drawing a small group clear which was patrolled by Marlen Reusser (SD Worx). The attacks continued, stringing the peloton clear, but no one was allowed clear. Van de Velde stayed clear over the top of the climb of the day, while Fenix-Deceuninck tracked Koster and ensured she wasn’t able to pick up any further points. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) also joined the battle for the mountains points, and then continued on, pushing the pace solo. A Jumbo-Visma rider tried to come across to her, but it all came back together.
As the peloton settled down, Van de Velde extended her gap out to two and a half minutes inside 30km to go.With the road going up towards intermediate sprint point, Fenix Deceuninck did a good job of subtle interference with the chase. Van de Velde went through the sprint point solo, holding her lead at just under 2 minutes. Behind them, Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) led out for Lotte Kopecky. Meanwhile, AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep came to the front to launch Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, forcing Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) to go over the top to stop Moolman-Pasio picking up points ahead of Kopecky.
As the riders were trying to regroup after the sprint Anna Henderson (Jumbo Visma) saw an opportunity to attack over the top, but was brought back. The race was calm for a while until the peloton turned into an exposed section with a cross tail wind. Canyon//Sram Racing came to the front to see if they could use the wind to open up any splits. The peloton strung out, but ultimately stayed together.
By 10km to go the gap to van de Velde out front had been brought down to 22 seconds. In the peloton, the pace was controlled by dsm-firmenich, who held the gap steady for the next few kilometres. As the kilometres ticked by, the gap actually extended. Fenix-Deceuninck continued to try to disrupt things, and, despite having the favourite to take the stage, SD Worx sat in on the second row, not contributing to the chase.
Inside the final kilometre van de Velde dug deep, still holding off the peloton by some ten seconds. Finally, Reusser came to the front for SD Worx, and the distance disappeared. The sprinters launched, and came flying past van de Velde with only a couple of hundred metres to the line. Lorena Wiebes confirmed her ongoing prowess to take the win for SD Worx, ahead of Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) and her teammate and yellow jersey wearer who is yet to finish off the podium, Lotte Kopecky.
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