How the race finished
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) emerged victorious atop the misty Tourmalet, also claiming the yellow jersey. After attacking on the descent before the final climb, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) held off the other chasers to cross the finish line in second, with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) coming in third.
Demi Vollering took the yellow jersey off the shoulders of her teammate Lotte Kopecky, who put in a strong climb to hold on to 4th place in the General Classification. Kasia Niewiadoma and Annemiek van Vleuten moved into podium positions, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep) shuffling down to 5th overall going into the closing time trial tomorrow.
Full results are available below.
How it happened
Stage Seven of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes was the one everyone was waiting for: the showdown between the General Classification contenders, climbing over the Col d’Aspin and then taking in the long climb to the stage finish atop the iconic Tourmalet.
The race started in Lannemezan, and the first attacks came as soon as the flag dropped. Fenix-Deceuninck and Ceratizit WNT were both active in the opening kilometres, but nothing went clear. Eventually Coralie Demay (St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93) found a gap off the front, but with no company, her time up the road was short lived. A crash near the back of the peloton brought down Liane Lippert (Movistar), who looked to be in pain but was able to continue.
The attacks by Ceratizit-WNT continued to come, forcing a small group clear. As they were brought back Lizzie Deignan went over the top for Lidl-Trek, but she couldn’t punch away. A counter attack came from Quinty Ton (LivRacing TeqFind), who was joined by Lucinda Brand (Lidl-Trek), Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep), Susanne Andersen (Uno X Pro Cycling), Megan Jastrab (dsm-firmenich), Floortje Mackaij and Shayla Gutierrez (Movistar), Amber Pate (Jayco-AlUla), Magdeleine Vallieres (EF Education Tibco SVB), Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma), Christine Majerus (SD Worx), Nina Berton (Ceratizit WNT Pro Cycling), and Julie De Wilde (Fenix-Deceuninck). Cofidis and Israel Premier Tech Roland weren’t happy with missing the move, and worked together to bring things back.
Andersen continued to push on out front, and was joined by Margot Pompanon (St Michel Mavic Auber 93). The pair established a lead of around 40 seconds, with Sara Poidevin (EF Education Tibco SVB) trying to bridge across, but finding herself caught in between.
The fast start meant the peloton were already approaching the base of the Col d’Aspin, and dsm-firmenich led it out, keeping their GC leader Juliette Labous at the front. Once the climb began, Movistar amassed towards the front, setting a high tempo. Riders began to be dropped out the back, forming small groups behind.
Paula Patino put in a long and hard pull on the front for Movistar, before Lippert came up and took over. Lippert pulled off at 5km to the summit, and van Vleuten launched one of her signature attacks. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) got out of the saddle and followed, while Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep) couldn’t hold the wheel, forcing Demi Vollering (Canyon//Sram Racing) to bridge across the gap that had opened. Van Vleuten continued to set the pace, drawing the trio away.
A chasing group formed behind, with Moolman-Pasio, Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek), Juliette Labous (dsm-firmenich), Ane Santesteban (Jayco AlUla), Cecile Uttrup Ludwig and Marta Cavalli for FDJ-Suez, and Lotte Kopecky and Marlen Reusser for SD Worx – but the trio out front stayed clear. Going over the top of the Col d’Aspin, Niewiadoma took maximum points, bumping her up to an equal footing with Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck) in the Mountains Classification.
The trio took a 50 second lead into the descent. With Vollering and van Vleuten watching each other closely, Niewiadoma used her descending skills to find a small gap off the front, which she extended through each corner as the descent unfolded. As the road flattened out a little Vollering and van Vleuten came to a near standstill behind, Vollering not wanting to ride as she had teammates behind, and van Vleuten not wanting to ride if Vollering wasn’t. Niewiadoma continued to extend her gap out to a maximum of 53 seconds.
Just before the bottom of the Tourmalet Reusser tried to jump across from the chasing group to Vollering and van Vleuten. Instead, she towed Moolman-Pasio across, and the rest of the chase group was able to follow. Reusser immediately came through to the front to set a strong tempo in pursuit of Niewiadoma. The pace was too much for Cavalli, who was dropped almost immediately, followed by Spratt.
With 12km of climbing to go until the summit finish, Reusser finished her turn, pulling off the front. Niewiadoma was just 10 seconds ahead, and visible to the bunch, but no one was prepared to take on the responsibility of bringing her back. Eventually, Labous took up the pacing, but Niewiadoma had already extended her gap out to 20 seconds again, and from there it continued to grow, going all the way back out to 45 seconds with 9km to go.
Labous, tired of being the only rider prepared to pace, started to launch a series of small attacks instead, each closed by Vollering, van Vleuten and Moolman-Pasio in turn. Uttrup Ludwig and Santesteban were dropped, finding the changing pace difficult to manage. Kopecky, resplendent in yellow, continued to follow the wheels.
At 5.6km to go, Vollering attacked. Van Vleuten followed with Moolman-Pasio in the wheel, but one by one they both lost touch with Vollering, who disappeared into the fog. As they wound through concrete tunnels built into the hillside, Vollering caught Niewiadoma, who tried, but simply couldn’t hold the wheel.
Vollering powered away, extending her gap to eventually cross the finish line almost two minutes clear of the nearest rider. Niewiadoma put in a strong performance to hold off the other chasers and cross the line in second, taking the Mountains Classification at the same time. Behind her, van Vleuten crossed the line in third, just nine seconds clear of Moolman-Pasio and Labous. Kopecky finished her stunning day out with sixth across the line.
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