2023 Tour de France Femmes – Stage Two Race Report

How the race finished

Liane Lippert (Movistar) outsprinted yellow jersey wearer Lotte Kopecky, whose sprint was hindered by a slow leak in her rear wheel. After a leg-sapping day of rolling climbs Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) crossed the line third in the reduced bunch. Kopecky defended her yellow jersey, with Lippert and Ashleigh-Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep) moving into podium positions on the General Classification.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

Stage two of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes saw the riders take on a lumpy 152km from Clermont- Ferrand to Mauriac. With the second most vertical metres of elevation gain of any stage, and an uphill finish, the riders were in for a leg-sapping day. 

Starting in beautiful sunshine, the peloton was climbing from the start, despite going around not over the Puy de Dome. Attacks came from the gun, with Canyon//Sram Racing keen to get things moving. On the first climb a high pace in the peloton saw a number of riders being dropped. Hannah Ludwig (Uno X Pro Cycling) and Georgia Williams (EF Education Tibco SVB) were the lucky duo to find a gap, quickly growing their lead out to 1 minute. 

With the first climb complete the pace in the peloton picked up, and a counter-attack by Yara Kastelijn (Fenix Deceuninck) wasn’t allowed to go away. The gap to the leaders came down to around 20 seconds coming into the base of the first categorised climb of the day, up to the Côte du Mont-Dore, where Williams took maximum points in the mountains classification. The pair then extended their lead back out to 50 seconds, and Williams again took the mountains points over the Côte de la Stèle, putting her into the virtual lead in the Queen of the Mountains category. 

The pair were reeled back in with 55km to go, on the approach to the category 2 climb up to the Côte des Plaines. On the climb itself, Evita Muzic (FDJ) and Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//Sram Racing) went clear, but Julie van de Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) went straight over the top with Marlen Ruesser (SD Worx) and Eleonora Gasparrini (UAE Team ADQ) on her wheel. After everything came back together, more attacks came from Anouska Koster (Uno-X), van de Velde again, and Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez), but nothing stuck. 

A crash in the group affected a number of General Classification riders, including Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek), Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis) and both Annemiek van Vleuten and Liane Lippert for Movistar. As they found their way back, van de Velde was finally able to find a gap. Evita Muzic (FDJ-Suez) led the chase in the peloton. Anouska Koster (Uno-X) and Yara Kastelijn (Fenix Deceuninck) bridged across just before the QoM point, taking second and third across the line and then pushing on past de Wilde, whose effort was done. Soraya Paladin (Canyon//Sram Racing) bridged across and Romy Kasper (AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep) tried to do the same, but Cavalli, leading the peloton for FDJ-Suez, had a tight hold on the escapees. 

When the trio were just about brought back, Kastelijn went again, launching up the outside. This time Koster, accompanied by Eva van Agt (Jumbo Visma) were able to bridge across, and the trio quickly established a lead of 20 seconds. Koster led the trio through the intermediate sprint as the gap continued to grow, going out to a minute with 32km remaining.

With around 24km to go, as the road pitched up yet again, Juliette Labous (dsm-firmenich), who had some back luck and lost time in stage one, tried her hand at an attack from the peloton. 

Reusser tried to close it down, drawing out a small group including Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing), Kathrine Hammes (EF Education Tibco SVB) and yellow jersey wearer Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx). Demi Vollering (SD Worx) brought the strung out peloton back to the front, with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep) tucked in her slipstream. 

The attacks continued to fly, with Muzic and Brown both having a go for FDJ-Suez, Skalniak-Sojka trying for Canyon//Sram Racing, and Quinty Ton for LivRacing TeqFind – but each time they were quickly reabsorbed into the bunch. In the leading trio, Kastelijn, who had been missing a few turns, attacked her compatriots to take maximum points over the next Queen of the Mountains point. 

With 10 kilometres remaining the break still held an advantage of 47 seconds. The weather had turned, with heavy rain and damp conditions rendering the roads treacherous. In the breakaway, Kastelijn touched her breaks coming into a corner and slid out on a manhole cover, using all her cyclocross skills to stay upright, but finding herself chasing to get back to the other two riders. As the peloton came through the same corner, Loretta Hanson (Lidl-Trek) also found herself on the ground, but luckily was relatively unscathed. On the fast descent before the final climb up to the finish, van Agt, still in the lead of the race, slid out on a corner, bringing her race to an end. Koster and Kastelijn regrouped, but were reabsorbed by the peloton on the final climb. 

As the favourite hit the slopes of the climb, 5km from the end, Niewiadoma launched a characteristic attack from the bottom. Moolman Pasio followed and the duo got a small gap, before being followed by Lippert, Longo-Borghini and Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram Racing). 

SD Worx missed the move, as did Annemiek van Vleuten, but it was Demi Vollering who did the work to bring things back together. As the lead group swelled Moolman-Pasio and Longo-Borghini were both keen to keep things moving, but the pace dropped again as more and more riders came back. Mavi Garcia (LivRacing TeqFind), Claire Steels (Israel-Premier Tech-Roland) and Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon//Sram Racing) found themselves caught out behind. Niewiadoma tried again, but was closely marked by Kopecky. Labous, too, attacked off the front, but was marked by Reusser for SD Worx, who also tagged an attack by Cédrine Kerbaol (Certizit WNT Pro Cycling) before launching her own solo attempt up the outside.

Under the 2km to go banner Longo-Borghini and Neiwiadoma closed the gap to Reusser, forcing Vollering to chase behind. Longo-Borghini held her position on the front before Vollering came through to lead out for Kopecky. Through the final corner Reusser, sitting in sixth place, dropped the wheel on purpose, leaving a gap for others to close to her teammates up ahead. Lippert, in front of Reusser, launched her sprint early, forcing Kopecky to react. It looked like a done deal for the yellow jersey wearer, but Lippert was able to hold her power all the way to the line, taking her first WWT win since 2020. 

 

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

 

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