‘Let’s delete the pictures’ - Demi Vollering thought she won Tour de France Femmes stage four

Dutchwoman comes second in Rodez and gains time on GC rivals

Demi Vollering on stage two of the Tour de France Femmes
(Image credit: Getty)

Demi Vollering attacks. There’s 150m to go, and one body in front of her - a target decked in the yellow and red of Uno-X. She grits her teeth. The road bends left, uphill to the finish in Rodez, and roaring into the air, Vollering goes round the outside. 

As she sits up to celebrate, there’s a realisation. “I crossed the line and I was like, ‘I’m not sure’,” she told Cycling Weekly afterwards. 

The race she thought she had won, stage four of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, had already been claimed by someone else. One minute and 11 seconds earlier, Yara Kastelijn of Fenix Deceuninck had taken her maiden road victory. Vollering took second. 

“I had no clue what was in front of me,” the SD Worx rider explained. “I caught up Anouska Koster [Uno-X], and she was the only one I could see, so I thought I had everybody. I didn’t know [Kastelijn] was still in front.

“I didn’t know if someone from the group was out [front], you know? So I thought I’d celebrate anyway and then we have at least the pictures. If I didn’t win, then we can always delete them. So let’s delete them,” she smiled. 

Demi Vollering on stage four of tour de france femmes 2023

(Image credit: Getty)

Vollering was, however, able to take a small victory in Rodez on Wednesday. She distanced her GC rival Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) to the line, and took six bonus seconds, eventually earning an eight-second advantage over her compatriot. 

“It’s really nice, of course, to already gain a little bit of time,” Vollering said. “It was really, really long, and I think that suits Annemiek better than me. It was hard and painful. I’m happy [with] how it went. I hoped I could do a little bit more in the end on the last climb, but I could not really make a difference anymore after such a long race.” 

Stage four marked the longest stage ever in women’s WorldTour history, stretching out over 177 rolling kilometres from the start in Cahors. 

“It was a really strange day,” Vollering said. "And also a hard, hard day. You could feel it in the bunch. It’s different for us, because we don’t always have such long races.” 

When she arrived back at her team bus, Vollering cut a disappointed figure. On the race’s longest day, she had tasted the euphoria of victory, before reality dragged her back to earth. Downhearted, she greeted her border collie, hugged her partner, and clambered onto the rollers for her warm-down. 

“I would have liked to win today,” she told the press, “because it’s a Tour stage, and it’s really special to win a Tour stage. I hope that one will still come.” 

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.