Marianne Vos dominantly sprinted to her second win of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on stage six, extending her overall lead in the process.
The Jumbo-Visma rider timed her effort perfectly, and never looked like she would be challenged by her rivals, as Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) and Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) came in behind in second and third, respectively.
The Dutchwoman benefited from perfect positioning in the final kilometres, with her teammates Riejanne Markus and Karlijn Swinkels putting in powerful turns in the final kilometres.
Trek-Segafredo tried to set things up for world champion Elisa Balsamo, but the Italian was forced to settle for fourth.
The stage win gave Vos another ten bonus seconds, meaning she extended her lead at the front of the race ahead of two crucial mountain stages this weekend.
She also now comfortably leads the points classification as well in the race, after her nearest rival Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), who has also won two stages at the Tour, crashed with 24km to go.
Teams tried to challenge Vos, but it was a comfortable surge to victory for the all-time great in the end, with this latest triumph her 242nd of her lengthy career.
In this Tour de France Femmes, the 35-year-old has finished second, first, second, fifth, third, and now first again.
As Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) said post-stage, "if Marianne wins, Marianne wins".
How it happened
125 riders set off from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges for stage six of the Tour de France Femmes, for a transition stage which was set up for multiple different outcomes, including a bunch sprint or a breakaway victory.
Due to the unknown nature of the day, there were multiple attempts to get into the break early on, with riders trying to get up the road on the category four climb of Col d'Urbeis. The points on offer went to Maaike Boogard (UAE Team ADQ).
A split in the peloton with 95km to go briefly left half of the Trek-Segafredo team behind, with world champion Elisa Balsamo joined by Leah Thomas and Audrey Cordon-Ragot, but they got back into the peloton four kilometres later.
The competition to get into the break was so fierce that it was not established until 83km to go, with 45km of stage six already ridden.
The 14 in the break were: Cordon-Ragot, Sheyla Gutiérrez (Movistar), Christine Majerus (SD Worx), Marie Le Net (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), Franziska Koch (Team DSM), Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco), Sandra Alonso (Ceratizit-WNT), Silke Smulders (Liv Racing Xstra), Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Joss Lowden (Uno-X Pro Cycling), Jesse Vandenbulcke (Le Col-Wahoo), and Tamara Dronova-Balabolina (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad).
The category four Côte de Klingenthal was challenged by the break first, with Lowden taking the maximum two points. Meanwhile, Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) attempted to bridge across from the peloton to the group up the road, but was denied.
On the Côte de Grendelbruch Lowden once again crested the top first, taking three points on this occasion; with this result the British rider moved into the top five on the Queen of the Mountains competition.
The time gap was never allowed to grow much beyond a minute, with it hovering around 1-10 with 30km to go. UAE Team ADQ and Valcar-Travel & Service were the teams pulling behind.
On the slopes of the final classification climb, the Route de Mollkirch, Hammes won the sprint after following an attack by Vandenbulcke.
Behind, the race started to kick off too, with Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) attacking on the Mollkirch, followed by race leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Lianne Lippert (Team DSM). The peloton had seriously slimmed down by this point, but Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), the green jersey, remained. Koch was caught by the bunch at this point.
On the descent, Majerus and Henderson flew off the front, reaching speeds of over 70km/h as the gap stood at just 40 seconds, but the pair were brought back.
As the peloton tackled the same descent, Wiebes came down in a crash along with Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), and Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM). Having done the hard work to remain in the peloton on the punchy climbs, it would have been gutting for Wiebes to see her hard work wiped away.
Up front, the break’s gap extended back up to over a minute with 20km to go, on the first time over the finish line. There was a temporary split in the front group, but this came back together.
Once it was clear that Wiebes would not be returning to the bunch, her DSM team worked on the front for Lippert, making the race harder for the German champion. Because of this, the gap was reduced to below 30 seconds.
Henderson attacked off the front once again, along with Le Net, followed at distance by Lowden. With 15km to go, these three established a lead of about 200m over their breakaway colleagues, as the peloton sat 400m behind. With just over 10km to go, the trio up front had just 20 seconds on the peloton.
Le Net was the next to attack, distancing Henderson and Lowden, hoping to get a stage win on the board for France. Thanks to her efforts, she won the combativity prize for the day.
Up front, Le Net was left on her own, but was now just ten seconds ahead of the bunch, being driven by Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo).
The lone escapee was caught by the bunch with 4.6km to go, and the hopes of the break going to the finish were extinguished.
Into the final 1.5km, Jumbo-Visma were leading things for Vos, with Trek and SD Worx also well positioned. Van Dijk led things out for her team, with Elisa Longo Borghini and Elisa Balsamo (both Trek-Segafredo), following through.
However, Vos timed her sprint to perfection, won her second stage, and extended her lead in the yellow jersey in the process.
Tour de France Femmes 2022, stage six: Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim, 128.6km
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 3-09-26
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
3. Lotto Kopecky (Bel) SD Worx
4. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
6. Maria Confalonieri (Ita) WNT Pro Cycling
7. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ Suez Futuroscope
8. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
9. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Liv Racing Xstra
10. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time
General classification after stage six
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 19-30-14
2. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service, at 30s
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM, at same time
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 35s
5. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SD-Worx, at 1-05
6. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD-Worx, at 1-11
7. Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM, at 1-19
8. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, at 1-28
9. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Suez Futuroscope, at 2-02
10. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM, at 2-34
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