2023 Tour de France Femmes – Stage Eight Race Report

How the race finished

Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) took the honours in the individual time trial on the last stage of the race, ahead of her teammates Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky. 

Vollering sealed the overall win, but Kopecky’s time trial saw her leapfrog both Annemiek van Vleuten and Kasia Niewiadoma to finish second overall, with Niewiadoma being bumped back to third place by less than a second after eight days of racing.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

Stage Eight, the final stage of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes, tested the riders against the clock, in a 22 kilometre individual time trial in Pau. The relatively flat and fast course was broken up by a 100m high climb at the halfway point, followed by a steep punch in the last 500m up to the finish. 

After starting out in reverse order of the General Classification, Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-Suez) was the early leader, putting over a minute into the time of those finishing before her. Georgie Howe (Jacyo AlUla) was close at the intermediate, but lost time over the second half. Anna Hendersen (Jumbo-Visma) then went faster again at the intermediate, but once again had lost her hold on the lead, and by the finish gave away 15 seconds to Guazzini. 

Halfway through the stage a number of contenders took to the roads. Former French National Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health), Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez), current Australian national champion, and current European champion Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) were all out on the course at the same time. Cordon-Ragot flew off the ramp at the high pace, taking the corners with speed and pushing the pedals. Behind her, Brown looked to be on her best form of the whole week, and despite a minor mishap, was able to post an intermediate split at the top of the climb some 29 seconds ahead of Guazzini. 

There was no time to catch a breath, as a minute or so later Reusser powered the same split another 27 seconds ahead of Brown. Reusser looked to be on a sensational day, riding smooth and composed, and keeping a streamlined position with her arms in the skis all the way up the climb. On the small descent, she caught the rider and van ahead of her, but thankfully was able to navigate past time without too much ill effect. Brown came to the finish line with the provisional fastest time, but wasn’t able to catch Cordon-Ragot who was up ahead. Shortly after, Reusser put in the ride of the day, taking 40 seconds off Brown’s time and posting a time that would prove unbeatable. 

With small time gaps separating a number of positions within the top twelve on the general classification, all eyes were on the final riders off the start ramp to see who would put in a good time trial. 

Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma), wearing the Netherlands national chamions jersey, was vying to jump up into the top ten. Despite a strong time trial she wasn’t at her best, and while Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ) slipped back, Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek) was able to hold on to tenth. 

Further up the table, Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez) put in a strong ride to jump ahead of Ane Santesteban (Jayco-AlUla) into seventh overall. Juliette Labous (dsm-firmenich) also showed a solid performance, climbing into the top five ahead of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep).

The fight for the podium, however, was closer than ever. Starting the day seven seconds behind Annemiek van Vleuten, Lotte Kopecky, wearing her green skinsuit as leader of the points classification, started steadily and only increased her pace towards the end. It was clear from the intermediate splits that Kopecky was likely to knock defending champion van Vleuten from the overall podium. But, by the end of the race, Niewiadoma’s position in second also looked to be in danger. 

Everything crystalised as, one by one, the riders crossed the line. Van Vleuten could only manage fourteenth place overall, a surprising position for a rider we are so used to seeing battling for the top position. As a result, she was unable to hold her position on the podium. Niewiadoma faded towards the end, crossing the line completely empty. In the end, it wasn’t enough, and Kopecky secured second overall by 0.2 seconds. 

Vollering, who didn’t take it easy on the day, crossed the line just ten seconds off Reusser’s time, securing the overall win and a 1-2-3 on the final stage for Team SD Worx, alongside their 1-2 on the General Classification. 

 

 Stage Eight Results

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 Overall Results

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