Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) secured the overall victory at the Tour de France Femmes on Sunday, winning the eighth and final stage as well in another show of power in the mountains.
Already in yellow after her stage 7 triumph, Van Vleuten pushed through some mid-stage inconveniences – she suffered a mechanical and changed bikes several times – before making her move on the final climb.
On the steep slopes of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Van Vleuten dropped the remaining riders in a select lead group. Although second-placed Demi Vollering (SD Worx) gave chase with a handful of another notables in a small group further back, there would be no catching Van Vleuten.
The race leader powered into the gravel finale alone and held on out front with a healthy gap, secure enough in the lead to enjoy the moment as she crossed the finish line as the winner of the stage and the overall race title.
Vollering arrived 30 seconds later to take runner-up honors on both the day and the GC. Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service) finished third on the stage ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), who secured her spot on the GC podium with her fourth-place finish on stage 8.
"That's actually a dream that comes true, winning in yellow on the top. Wow," Van Vleuten said after the win. "It was not an easy stage. It was not an easy week. It has been a super big roller coaster for me and even today it was not easy. But I finished here in yellow, solo, the best way."
With the conclusion of the final stage, the major jerseys of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift were all decided. Beyond Van Vleuten's wrapping up of yellow, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) finished safely to secure the green jersey, Vollering's second-place performance on stage 8 earned her enough points to hold on the Queen of the Mountains jersey over Van Vleuten, and Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) won the young rider's jersey.
How it happened
The eighth and final stage of the race took riders 123.3km from Lure to the top of the Super Planche climb, and the peloton raced a high tempo from the start, with no lasting breakaway moves through the first hour.
The day's first categorized climb saw surges at the front that started to whittle away at the pack. Vollering went over the top of the ascent first to secure maximum QOM points – which would come in handy at the end of the day – and then attacks flew as the road continued to rise after the top of the official climb. Within a few minutes, the day's main breakaway move had finally gone clear.
Elise Chabbey and Pauliena Rooijakkers of Canyon-SRAM, Liane Lippert (DSM), Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope), Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma), Paula Patiño (Movistar), Yara Kastelijn (Plantur-Pura), Coralie Demay (St Michel Auber 93), Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), and Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ) comprised the move, with a handful of others chasing in an attempt to bridge. The escapees would not be given much breathing room, however, as the peloton kept the pace high on the downhill run-in to the second categorized climb of the day, the Ballon d'Alsace.
It was in that stretch that Van Vleuten ran into some difficulties. With a little more than 50km to race, she suffered a mechanical, and then she underwent multiple bike changes in the aftermath. Although Movistar sent riders back to help her chase after the incident, the pursuit back to the main group was somewhat disorganized at times, with Van Vleuten having to put in much work herself.
Meanwhile, rival teams pressed on in the peloton, keeping the pace high to make the chase that much harder.
Nonetheless, Van Vleuten worked her way back to the main group at the start of the Ballon d'Alsace, switched bikes and then switched bikes again, and from there, continued on with her race without too much more trouble.
A handful of stage hopefuls managed to bridge up to the break, while behind, Vollering fired salvo after salvo in the GC group. Her efforts helped whittle down the pack substantially, but she was unable to open much of a gap on the main GC hopefuls.
On the ensuing descent, Van Vleuten briefly lost touch with the GC group again, but she then rejoined the selection.
The surviving breakaway riders hit the final climb with an advantage of about a minute, but that gap began to tumble as riders hit the challenging gradients. With around 6km left to race, Van Vleuten began to surge clear, shedding one rival after another. She briefly linked up with her Movistar teammate Patiño from the break, who helped pull her along for a few moments, and after finally dropping Vollering, Van Vleuten had put all of the other GC hopefuls behind her.
From there, she set about catching and passing the remainder of the break while Vollering did her best in pursuit.
Van Vleuten ultimately caught, rode with, and then left lone leader García, and from that point on, the yellow jersey was alone out front. She pressed on through into the finale, with the last kilometer of the climb on gravel, and arrived with a 30-second gap to Vollering.
Van Vleuten thus ended her Tour de France Femmes in imperious fashion, with back-to-back stage victories and a healthy gap to the rest of the field in the overall standings, a change of fortune for the three-time Giro Donne winner and former world road champ after she dealt with illness in the early days of the race.
Despite that rough start to her week, on Sunday, she secured her title as the first GC winner of the new Tour de France Femmes, where she is now also a double stage winner.
Tour de France Femmes 2022, stage 8: Lure to La Super Planche des Belles Filles, 123.3km
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, in 3-37-23
2. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD-Worx, at 30s
3. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service, at 1-43
4. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM, at 1-52
5. Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM, at 1-56
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-01
7. Veronica Ewers (USA) EF Education-Tibco-SVB, at 2-13
8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Suez Futuroscope, at 2-50
9. Mavi García (Spa) UAE Team ADQ, at 2-59
10. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM, at 3-01
Final general classification
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, in 26-55-44
2. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD-Worx, at 3-48
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM, at 6-35
4. Juliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM, at 7-28
5. Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service, at 8-00
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 8-26
7. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Suez Futuroscope, at 8-59
8. Évita Muzic (Fra) FDJ Suez Futuroscope, at 13-54
9. Veronica Ewers (USA) EF Education-Tibco-SVB, at 15-05
10. Mavi García (Spa) UAE Team ADQ, at 15-15
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