After just one day day in the yellow jersey Lorena Wiebes was understandably disappointed to lose the overall lead of the Tour de France Femmes.
The DSM rider finished fifth on the race’s second stage, some 29 seconds behind the day’s winner, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) who took the yellow jersey from her. Wiebes and her DSM team were distanced after a late intermediate sprint which came on the finish line, at the top of a short but sharp climb in the town of Provins, east of Paris.
Over the top Trek-Segafredo ripped the race to pieces, forcing a six woman group of the front from which Vos was able to take advantage.
“The day didn’t start very good because I has a small crash in the neutral, and we were all under control until the intermediate sprint,” Wiebes said after warming down on a stunning yellow sparkle Scott bike.
“It was a really smart move from Trek to go directly after the intermediate sprint and I was a bit too tired to react, I needed some recovery. We tried to close it directly afterwards, but they worked really good together on the front.”
The final kilometre was entirely uphill, and while it was not too steep, with a maximum of only 5.5%, it was always going to be a challenge for a sprinter like Wiebes. She though, was confident of being able to win the stage and did win the uphill bunch kick to finish sixth.
The day was a nervous one, marred by crashes which took out a number of riders including one of the pre-race favourites, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope). Other than the loss of the overall lead, DSM came through the day unscathed, chatting together while warming down, but Wiebes blamed the wind.
“Everyone was nervous because of the cross winds and everyone wants to be in position and most of time then crashes happen. Nobody gives each other space of course because everyone who wants to be in the front.”
Tuesday’s third stage is unlikely to see such conditions, and the 133.6km from the centre of Reims through the Champagne vineyards to Epernay is likely to be defined by four classified climbs, three of which come in the second half of the race.
The finish is the same the one on which Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep Alpha Vinyl) won, taking yellow in the 2019 men’s Tour de France, and, with Wiebes’s own yellow now gone attention will turn away from her.
“More important is the GC for Juliette [Labous] so if they don’t take too much energy we’ll also go for green, but I think tomorrow will fit Liane [Lippert] really good.”
During Sunday’s opening stage rumours emerged in the Dutch media that Wiebes is set to leave DSM at the end of the season and is set to join SDWorx. While the team would not confirm her destination they admitted she would be leaving, while Wiebes herself regretted the way the news emerged.
“I think the timing was not the best because of course, I wanted to tell i the girls personally, and I had not time during the race,” she said. “That's not the best moment but we are professional riders and we keep on achieving our goals for the rest of the season, and we make it a great season.
“This team really brought me up as a rider and my development went really fast. I'm happy to be in this team and why I said we make it a great year.”
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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