Team SD Worx had one big goal in this 2023 edition of the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift: to take home the yellow jersey. All other successes would be a bonus. Taking stock after an overwhelming final time trial in Pau, the team can only conclude that the overall results they achieved were not even in their wildest dreams before the race began.
Team SD Worx finished the 8-day race with a GC-win for Demi Vollering, second place in the GC for Lotte Kopecky, the green jersey of the points classification also for Kopecky, overall win in the team classification, four stage wins with four different riders (Kopecky, Vollering, Lorena Wiebes and Marlen Reusser), 7 days the yellow jersey in the team and the lowest result in the eight stages was a third place!
With a podium sweep in the 22.6 kilometre final time trial, Team SD Worx asserted itself one more time on the final day of the Tour. European champion Marlen Reusser was a class act on the hilly course. Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky also proved their skills against the clock with respective second and third places, securing the first two places in the overall standings.
Vollering laid the foundation for this Tour victory on the penultimate day on Saturday, with a fantastic ride on the Col du Tourmalet. On the 2215-meter-high col in the Pyrenees, the Dutch champion managed to outride the competition by several minutes, giving her a large lead going into the final time trial.
Vollering said, “Because of that wide margin, I was actually a little too relaxed this morning before the time trial. That attitude made me nervous and I needed that tension for the time trial. I wanted to go to the limit, because this time trial was also one of my goals for this stage. A good time trial was also important with an eye on the future and in the first place soon the World Time Trial Championships in Glasgow.”
After taking the honour of overall Tour de France Femmes winner and donning the prestigious yellow jersey, Vollering said in her speech that she hopes this spectacular round has inspired young girls to take up cycling as well. Moments later, she acknowledged that she still cannot believe that the Tour de France victory is now a fact: “I have worked very hard for this. Besides that, you have to believe in it. You have to keep yourself calm all year. To be able to do that, you have to be able to find a balance. The whole year, however, I have been feeling good. Of course there were doubts, even in the past week, but some uncertainty makes you sharp and makes you go the extra mile.”
Of her teammate Kopecky’s fantastic week, Vollering said, “The fact that Lotte still finished second makes the party complete. On the Tourmalet, I looked into her face a few times and then I saw a real killer look. That inspired me even more. Lotte rode unprecedentedly strong all week. You can only dream about how we rode as a team. When we uncork the champagne with the team tonight, then the realisation will come what we have accomplished in this Tour.”
With a third place in the final time trial, Lotte Kopecky moved up from fourth to second place in the general classification. She had already secured the green jersey of the points classification. After Bernard Hinault, Kopecky is the first rider in the Tour de France to stand on the final podium of the classification with the green jersey also around her shoulders.
Kopecky said, “I had hoped to finish third this morning, but a second place I didn’t dare think about. I knew along the way that I had enough lead over Annemiek van Vleuten to finish on the podium. I didn’t have to go full out, but in your head you have something to keep going full out to the line. It has now paid off that I sprinted in the last three hundred metres. I started this Tour de France Femmes well on the first day with the stage win. I never thought I would ride six days in yellow and finish the tour second overall. I had a huge good feeling this week. Day after day, I was able to perform well and also recover well each time. Especially on the Col du Tourmalet, I surpassed myself. I never expected that I could go up there with the best. This has become a week I can only dream of!”
To complete the success on the final day, European time trial champion Marlen Reusser took another devastating blow against the chronometers. “We won almost everything. I can hardly believe it. Today we win both the time trial and the Tour,” Reusser said enthusiastically. “This week, I had to ride in service of Demi Vollering, although the team allowed me to make a goal of this time trial. I am so happy that I can finish it now. I almost don’t believe it what we all accomplished this week. We knew we were strong, but this is unprecedented. That we won half of all the stages in this round with four different riders says it all. That shows how strong we are in width, but also how we ride as a collective. This season exceeds all expectations anyway.”