Having set out with a target of a top-10 general classification result in the 2023 edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Team Jayco AlUla concluded the challenging stage race having accomplished their goal with Spanish rider Ane Santesteban. It was a huge team effort all-round over a tough 8 days of racing.
After safely negotiating the opening two stages of the race, the team had its first real attempt at a stage victory – another key goal going into the race – on stage three, when Alex Manly held her own against the world’s best sprinters to finish sixth in Montignac-Lascaux. The Australian fought all the way to the line, but just came up short. The result gave the team renewed confidence.
Santesteban continued to stay safe and well-protected by her teammates and then registered a seventh-place finish on the fifth stage. It was a day on which the winner came from the breakaway, as Santesteban diligently rose up the GC standings. On stage six, the team looked well-placed to launch Manly for another attempt at victory as the finale approached. However, a crash inside the final kilometre held up the majority of riders and ended what appeared to be shaping up as another real opportunity for a stage result.
Despite the mix of near misses and touches of bad luck, the riders were undeterred and, with Santesteban sitting in 12th on GC, the Queen stage arrived on the seventh day. A super team effort to bring the Spaniard into the foot of the Col d’Aspin climb well placed, followed by a magnificent display up the Tourmalet, saw Santesteban mix it up with a select group and finish seventh, moving up five places on the GC in the process.
The eighth and final stage – a 22.6km time trial – saw Georgie Howe targeting a result on her first Grand Tour. The Australian scored a top-15 finish, with Santesteban doing enough to keep her top-10 placing overall. She finished in eighth place to make it two top-10 finishes in two Grand Tours after her earlier Giro Donne success.
Ane Santesteban said after the conclusion of the race, “So we’re finished at Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift after some extremely hard days of racing. We leave with a top-10 on the final GC for me, and the team rode amazingly every day so we are really happy with this result.
This result means a lot. I’ve been working really hard for this not only for the last few weeks, but for so many years. Last year, everybody knows how much bad luck I had during the year, but I kept believing. The team supported me, believed in me more than even I did, so for me this result is really, really special.”
Shawn Clarke (Sport Director) added, “We saw some really hard racing throughout the entire race all week, and I think the courses were a bit harder than everybody anticipated. So for stage results we’re coming away from the race wanting a little bit, but our overall goal was with Ane and the hard courses really played into her hands and have her this amazing eighth spot in the final GC, so we have to leave happy with that.”
Team Jayco AlUla top-10 placings at Tour de France Femmes:
Stage 3 – 6th place – Alex Manly
Stage 5 – 7th place – Ane Santesteban
Stage 7 – 7th place – Ane Santesteban
Final GC – 8th place – Ane Santesteban