How the Race Finished
Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) took her second stage of the Tour de France Femmes, with the sprinter continuing to look nearly untouchable. She took victory a bike length ahead of Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), sprinting so fast it almost made everyone else look like they were moving in slow motion.
The Main Action
It was the longest stage of the entire Tour de France Femmes, running from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges. It was the longest stage, in fact, ever included in a women’s race, at 176km. Early on, a breakaway of four formed: Victoire Berteau (Cofidis), Emily Newsom (EF Education – Tibco – SVB), Anya Louw (AG Insurance NXTG) and Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health). They established a gap of three minutes, but DSM were vigilant on the front, keeping it under control; they wanted another sprint for Lorena Wiebes.
The break took the first Queen of the Mountains points, leaving Femke Gerritse (Parkhotel Valkenburg) safe and secure in polka-dots for another day. Louw was the only one interested in the intermediate sprint points; she sprinted, but the rest of the break just rolled through. Behind, it was a tougher fight. DSM led out Wiebes, with Marianne Vos slipping out from behind to try a long, hard sprint; but Wiebes stuck to her wheel, and Vos ended up conceding, with Wiebes taking the fifth-place points.
With 50km to go, the breakaway’s lead was dipping under two minutes. The chase from the peloton was disrupted, however, by a huge crash; almost the entirety of the peloton were caught up in it. Notably, Emma Norsgaard, Movistar’s sprinter, was forced to abandon, and Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service), currently second in the general classification, was stuck behind. She had to chase back on, alongside Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), who would have been eyeing the likely sprint finish.
On the final climb, the 1.5km Col du Haut du Bois, Victoire Berteau pushed on, separating herself from Newsom and Louw. Christoforou kept her wheel, and the two of them began to work together well, making a last-ditch attempt to stay away. In the penultimate 10km, they managed to maintain a gap of 30-40 seconds, but as the sprint trains began to organise themselves, their lead began to drop rapidly. With Christoforou caught with 3km to go, Berteau made one valiant, final attempt to stay off the front, but had to give in to the encroaching power of Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo).
There were a few problems in the final kilometres: a very sharp corner in the final 1.5km caused a small crash, splitting the peloton, and in the final kilometre, Elisa Longo Borghini, midway through setting things up for Elisa Balsamo, took a wrong turn, and ended up losing nine seconds. As they approached the line, Wiebes was tucked in behind Vos, who had been second or third wheel for most of the run-in. With 300m to go, Maria Giuilia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) was the first to launch her sprint, but Vos and Wiebes loomed behind her. Wiebes muscled her way forward, and took the victory with seeming ease: her sixteenth this season.
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) continues to lead the general classification, with her lead now 20 seconds over Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service). Vos also continues to lead the points classification, although Lorena Wiebes is starting to creep closer – 191 points to Vos’ 217.
Femke Gerritse (Parkhotel Valkenburg) continues to lead the mountains classification; her team has been clearly committed to defending the polka-dots. The white jersey also remains unchanged, staying on the shoulders of Julie de Wilde (Plantur-Pura). SD Worx continue to lead the teams classification, with Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Demi Vollering fifth and sixth on GC respectively.