Barbara Malcotti scored her first professional victory in stunning fashion, riding solo for 35 kilometres to win stage 6 of the Tour Feminin l’Ardèche. It was the team’s third victory of the week at the French stage race.
“I’m so happy to get the first victory of my career as a pro rider,” she said afterwards. “The first one is always the best. I’ve tried to do my best the whole season and I’ve grown up a lot this season.”
The hilly 125.9km route from Saint-Félician to Tain-l’Hermitage suited Malcotti’s climbing instincts to the tee. The 23-year-old counter-attacked a move from Victorie Guilman (FDJ-SUEZ) and never saw the peloton again, winning by an impressive 28-second margin.
“When I looked behind and saw no one, I was a little bit scared because it was very far from the finish,” she explained. “I tried to push very hard in the first part so I got a minute and then a minute and 45 seconds and from there I pushed so hard.”
The gap fluctuated with both FDJ-SUEZ and UAE Team ADQ beginning to chase, but Malcotti kept her motivation high, conquering the course with her mindset as well as her legs.
“I said to myself, ‘pull, pull and pull again,’” she said of her daring solo win. “Just believe in yourself. It was the perfect plan from the team, perfect teamwork and perfect direction.”
“They did an amazing job,” Malcotti said of her teammate’s tactical savvy. “It was better to be alone than in the group, because there were a lot of small, twisting roads, so solo was better.”
She will now carry the confidence gained after a season of hard work and her first time raising her arms as a pro into the closing stretch of the season. “I just needed to believe in me. Yesterday, I had the legs to follow the attack of Cavalli and Magnaldi but I said to myself maybe it is better to wait, maybe you are not strong enough. But not today. Now I can believe more in myself and that’s what I needed.”
Tomorrow’s finale takes on a unique parcours that at only 69.2km will pack in an eye-watering 1,239 metres of vertical gain with three categorised climbs before a downhill run-in to Privas.
Tour Feminin l’Ardèche stage six result
1 MALCOTTI Barbara – Human Powered Health 02:58:15
2 BARIL Olivia – UAE Team ADQ 0:28
3 QUAGLIOTTO Nadia – Laboral Kutxa-Fundacion Euskadi ”
4 WILLIAMS Lily – Human Powered Health ”
5 ZANARDI Silvia – BePink-Gold ”
6 BUIJSMAN Nina – Human Powered Health ”
7 MUZIC Evita – FDJ-SUEZ ”
8 DRUMMOND Michaela – Farto-BTC Women’s Cycling Team ”
9 DEMAY Coralie – St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93 ”
10 CAVALLI Marta – FDJ-SUEZ “
Tour Feminin l’Ardèche general classification after six stages
1 CAVALLI Marta – FDJ-SUEZ 17:33:49
2 MAGNALDI Erica – UAE Team ADQ 0:14
3 KOLESAVA Anastasiya – Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 0:20
4 ZANARDI Silvia – BePink-Gold 1:31
5 NUÑEZ Miryam – Massi Tactic Women’s Team 1:45
6 BARIL Olivia – UAE Team ADQ 1:53
7 MALCOTTI Barbara – Human Powered Health 1:53
8 MUZIC Evita – FDJ-SUEZ 1:58
9 BUIJSMAN Nina – Human Powered Health 2:00
10 DOEBEL-HICKOK Krista – USA 2:01