'Sometimes you have to eat from another rider’s plate' - Lorena Wiebes on sprint controversy at Tour de France Femmes

SD Worx were accused of piggybacking off other teams in the finale of stage three

Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes at the Tour de France Femmes 2023
(Image credit: Getty)

There was controversy after stage three of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, when SD Worx were accused of not working to bring back a solo rider, and then cashing in on other teams’ work to win the sprint. 

Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) snatched victory in Montignac-Lascaux, winning from the bunch after a well-timed lead-out from team-mate and yellow-jersey-wearer Lotte Kopecky

After the race, in which escapee Julie van de Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) was reeled in with 200m to go, dsm-firmenich’s Pfeiffer Georgi said SD Worx initially refused to help claw back the gap. 

“SD [Worx] started riding, but very quickly stopped,” the British national champion told a GCN+ camera crew. “We had full confidence in Charlotte [Kool] so we took it up. I spoke to them, they said they weren’t going to ride, so we took it on ourselves. We backed our sprinters, so we rode. In the end it didn’t work out.”

Speaking in her winner's press conference, Wiebes did not deny the allegations. 

“It was not up to us,” she told the media, including Cycling Weekly. “We also need the riders for the next day, so we cannot let them fully ride so they can’t do something for GC anymore.” 

The Dutchwoman stressed that the team’s main goal had been to protect the yellow jersey, and guarantee that GC hopeful Demi Vollering arrived at the line safely. 

“Sometimes you have to gamble,” Wiebes continued. “We’ve got so many victories this year, I also think that other teams want to have something. I know also the style of racing from DSM from last year.

“I know if they have a plan, they will go fully for the plan. I had the feeling the plan was to sprint with Charlotte. I know they always trust the sprint, so they will chase the break.”

The knowledge Wiebes acquired from her former team paid dividends for her in the finale. She finished first, Kopecky third, while Kool crossed the line in seventh. 

“Sometimes you have to eat from another rider’s plate first, before you take from your own,” Wiebes smiled. 

As the writer John Lyly once wrote, all is fair in love and war. 

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