How the Race Finished
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took a second stage of the Tour de France Femmes, this time in the yellow jersey. It was a hilly day, without too many attacks, meaning most of the sprinters were there for the finale – with the notable exception of the all-conquering Lorena Wiebes, who took a fall on a descent and limped in seven minutes down. Vos solidified her standing in the yellow jersey, taking ten bonus seconds, and sitting thirty seconds ahead of Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service); although she is unlikely to keep the jersey in the mountains this weekend, she has clearly cherished wearing it, and defended it fiercely.
The Main Action
It was a hilly stage, running 129km from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim. As ever, it was an aggressive start, with everyone fighting to make the day’s break. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) had a difficult start to the day: she dropped off the back of the peloton, and had a hard chase back on. Maike Boogaard (UAE Team ADQ) attacked, going over the category four Col d’Urbeis with a fifteen second gap. Femke Gerritse took the remaining mountain point from the peloton, continuing to mount a strong defence of her jersey.
With Boogaard reeled back in, attacks continued to fly until a major break formed just in time for the television coverage: fourteen-strong, with almost all the major teams represented, including Christine Majerus (SD Worx), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), Franziska Koch (Team DSM) and Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo). The responsibility of controlling the gap fell to Valcar Travel & Service and UAE Team ADQ, who’d both missed out on the break. Valcar in particular were keen to keep the gap down, lining out on the front and refusing to let the break get more than 1’30”; Silvia Persico was second in the GC, only twenty seconds down on Marianne Vos.
Joss Lowden (Uno-X) took the chance to make inroads into the polka dots; she led the break over the second and third classified climbs, moving up into second in the mountains classification. With 30km to go, the gap to the break was quickly dipping below a minute; the group was beginning to fracture, with Audrey Cordon-Ragot applying pressure on the front. On the final classified climb, the group began to fall apart. On the descent, Anna Henderson and Christine Majerus used their descending skill to distance themselves. In the group behind, the pressure was on as well: Grace Brown (FDJ Suez Futuroscope) attacked over the top of the climb, with all the big names vying for position. Disaster struck for Lorena Wiebes: having clung on to the main peloton over the climbs, in hopes of a stage win, she crashed badly, ending up coming in over seven minutes down.
In the disruption of the crash, the break had a little more leeway, but DSM moved to the front, trying to close it for Liane Lippert. With 15km to go, Henderson attacked from the remains of the break, followed by Marie Le Net (FDJ Suez Futuroscope) and Joss Lowden (Uno-X). Although they worked well together, the peloton was bearing down, and it was Marie Le Net who attacked again, dropping Henderson and Lowden and attempting to time-trial to the finish. However, when Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), the current hour record-holder, came to the front, it was clear she would be imminently reeled in.
Liane Lippert (DSM) tried an attack, but had Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in hot pursuit, closing it down. It was a technical descent, in the run-in to the line. Jumbo-Visma controlled it, with Riejanne Markus on the front for Vos. As they approached the flamme rouge, Vos stayed close to the front, positioned perfectly; she had Karlijn Swinkels leading her out, and then when Swinkels pulled off, Vos stayed second-wheel behind Ellen van Dijk. Elisa Longo Borghini swept round a corner to move up Elisa Balsamo, but to no avail: when Balsamo and Vos started to sprint, drag-racing each-other, Vos soon pulled away to victory.
The top ten of today’s stage is notable for being 7/10 Italian – Vos, Lotte Kopecky in third and Kasia Niewiadoma in eighth were the only non-Italians.
Vos continues to lead both the GC and the points classification; she now has a decisive lead over her closest rivals, Wiebes and Kopecky. Wiebes’ crash today, and her subsequent failure to contest the stage may have lost her any chance of gaining the green jersey. Femke Gerritse (Parkhotel Valkenburg) continues to wear polka dots – although three category one climbs await tomorrow, with the Petit and Grand Ballon. Julia Borgstrom (AG Insurance – NXTG Team) is the new wearer of the white jersey, with Julie de Wilde slipping down into second after coming in thirty seconds back today.