Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won stage five of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift with a powerful turn of speed in a sprint finish.
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) retained her lead in the overall classification for another day.
Vos and Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) were determined to prevent the Dutch rider from snatching a second stage win, but Wiebes was the quickest from the bunch to power away and grab the stage victory.
A feisty breakaway duo of Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) and Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health) had led the race for the final few kilometres after distancing their breakaway compatriots on the bonus climb. For a while, it looked like Berteau may spoil the party for the sprinters, but as the race was fast approaching the finish in Saint-Dié-Des-Vosges, a huge turn on the front of the peloton from Trek-Segafredo teammates Ellen Van Dijk and Audrey Cordon-Ragot ensured they were quickly swept up with plenty of time to spare.
The peloton then looked to reorganise itself for the sprint finish, but once the main bunch flew under the final kilometre to go banner, there would be only one winner. Van Dijk led out Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) but there was to be no stopping Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM).
Wiebes expertly jumped through a gap between Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Balsamo to spring clear at speed and secure a second stage victory of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift in style.
Balsamo finished second for Trek-Segafredo with Vos in third place defending her lead in the yellow jersey.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Stage five of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was due to bring the riders closer to the Vosge Mountains. The 175 kilometre route featured two category four climbs before the intermediate sprint point at Charmes, and then a bonus climb at the Col du Haut du Bois towards the finishing town of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges.
Once the racing action got underway, four attackers got up the road, including Emily Newsome (EF Education-Tibco-SVB). Team DSM were straight onto the front of the peloton looking to control the gap to the breakaway as they sought to protect the interests of Lorena Wiebes. Newsome’s breakaway compatriot, Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) took the maximum two points at the top of the first climb of the day, the Côte de Pagny-la-Blanche-Côte. Once the race was over the climb, the breakaway had a stable gap of 3-30 over the chasing main field.
At 65 kilometres left to race the break was still being kept at a good distance. Berteau led the breakaway over the next climb on the road, the Côte de Gripport, before Anya Louw (AG Insurance-NXTG) took maximum points at the intermediate sprint.
Behind the breakaway, there was a real battle for the remaining points in the peloton. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) opened up her sprint in the yellow jersey, with Wiebes straight onto her back wheel. In the end, Wiebes had enough power to round Vos and take the remaining points. A clear sign that the Team DSM sprinter had good legs ahead of the fight to come for the stage win.
With 42 kilometres to go, there was a huge crash in the peloton that brought down multiple riders including Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar). Moments later, the Movistar rider was taken to hospital in an ambulance leaving Annemiek Van Vleuten, a key teammate down.
As the peloton got back on the road, groups of riders were scattered along the course dealing with injuries sustained in the incident. The rider second on general classification, Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel and Service), was caught out in the crash along with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx), and both were in a group gradually making its way back to the peloton.
Once the main field had gathered itself, the breakaway group had their lead cut to under a minute for the first time. Multiple teams, including Le Col-Wahoo and Trek-Segafredo, moved to the front of the main field as they started to look towards a potential sprint finish. Jumbo-Visma joined the work on the front and the breakaway were soon living on borrowed time.
With 20 kilometres to go, the breakaway was split in two and the riders had begun the bonus climb in search of extra seconds. Berteau led the charge over the top with Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health) in second. The main field appeared to be more concerned with the fast-approaching finish, so there were no late-attacks from any general classification favourites looking to snatch any bonus seconds.
As the race flew by 16 kilometres left to race, Berteau and Christoforou pushed on, determined to avoid being swept up by the fast encroaching peloton. European champion Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) was racking up the pace as the team looked at positioning Elisa Balsamo for a shot at a stage victory. However, the narrow country roads with sweeping bends, were making a potential chase difficult to orchestrate. With 6 kilometres to go, the breakaway still had a 40 second gap on the marauding peloton.
A huge injection of pace at 4 kilometres to go from Jumbo-Visma saw the gap to the breakaway tumble and they were suddenly swept up. Trek-Segafredo duo Van Dijk and Audrey Cordon-Ragot shared the work superbly to bring back the breakaway and well position Balsamo. As the race then flew under the final kilometre, riders began to unleash their final sprint for the line.
Vos herself came from nowhere and was alongside Balsamo, before Lorena Wiebes expertly slipped through a gap between them to unleash a huge turn of speed to distance her nearest challengers.
In the end Wiebes won comfortably with Balsamo in second place and Marianne Vos securing third on the day.
RESULTS TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2022, STAGE FIVE
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Team DSM, in 4-32-16
2. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo,
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma,
4. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Liv Racing Xstra,
5. Maike Van der Duin (Ned) Le Col-Wahoo,
6. Maria Confalonieri (Ita) WNT Pro Cycling,
7. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service,
8. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ Suez Futuroscope,
9. Tamara Dronova (Sui) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss,
10. Alexandra Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco, all at same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FIVE
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 16-20-58
2. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service, at 20s
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram, at same time
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 34s
5. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SD-Worx, at 55s
6. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD-Worx, at 1-01
7. Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM, at 1-09
8. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, at 1-18
9. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Suez Futuroscope, at 1-52
10. Maria Canellas (Spa) UAE Team ADQ, at 2-30
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