Lorena Wiebes takes historic stage victory and Tour de France Femmes yellow

Another excellent performance from the Team DSM lead-out sees the Dutch rider sprint into history

Lorena Wiebes (DSM) wins the first stage of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
Lorena Wiebes (DSM) wins the first stage of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
(Image credit: Michael Steele/Getty)

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes, sprinting her way into the yellow jersey.

With Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) starting her sprint early, Wiebes was forced to counter, eventually coming over the top in the closing metres taking the win a bike length ahead of her Dutch compatriot. Lotte Kopecky (SDWorx) was third.  

It was another patient performance from Team DSM who were nowhere to be seen as the front of the race passed under the one kilometre marker. But as the race rounded the final right hand bend the team positioned their rider perfectly. 

Vos’ Jumbo-Visma team mate, Anna Henderson was her final lead out, while Wiebes waited slightly further back, out of the wind. Then, as Henderson began to wane Wiebes was able to react the moment Vos started her sprint. 

The win came at the end of a chaotic stage 81.7km stage. The opening day of such a hyped and significant race, held in what can only be described as an iconic location, was never likely to be uneventful, and the day was an entertaining one of repeated attacks and small breakaways.

Monday’s second stage between Meaux and Provins is another flat one, and could well be another bunch kick, though a kick up to the line may bring a different outcome to Sunday’s opening day. 

How it happened

After a long wait a Tour de France for women was finally back. While there were earlier attempts at a women’s Tour, organisers of the men’s race ran an event for women between 1984 and ’89. When that disappeared other organisations tried to carry the race on, but it finally ran out of steam in 2009.

In 2014 ASO gave the world some hope with the one day La Course by Le Tour de France, which itself graduated from criterium race around the Paris circuit the men grace on stage 21, to other dates and parts of France.

But now a genuine Tour de France for women is back, though it’s only eight stages and doesn’t tour round France, remaining in the north-east. And we were back in Paris for stage one, a race difficult to differentiate from the first three editions of La Course. 

Though the stage started at the Eiffel Tower, as opposed to Place de la Concorde where La Course used to, the opening leg was neutralised, the race only starting on the finish line on the Champs Elysées and riding 11 laps of the central Paris circuit, making for a total of 81.6km, as opposed to to 89km in 2014.

That did not make the race any less significant though, with any rider or team with a whisper of a chance of that first yellow jersey desperate to win it. And fittingly there were attacks from the gun, EF Education-Tibco-SVB the first to up the pace, though it was Arkea who were the first to get a gap with Amandine Fouquenet, though she was back in the bunch long before the end of the first lap.

On the second circuit Human Powered Health’s Dutch climber Nina Buijsman got away, though she was caught by seven others, making too large a group at the front for such a short race. The peloton, and specifically the DSM team of pre-race favourite Lorena Wiebes were in no mood to allow them any space and they were caught before the end of the lap.

The race was never likely to be a passive one and soon afterwards Ceratizit-WNT’s French rider, Laura Asencio attacked and built a slim margin, but was in turn caught after a couple of kilometres.

And so began a pattern, an individual or small group would get away, build lead of around 30 seconds before being closed down, the lure of intermediate sprints and a two mountains classification points causing teams to shut the gaps.

Vos won the first intermediate and Kopecky the second, with Femke Markus (Parkhotel Valkenburg) surviving from a group of three to triumphantly secure the mountains jersey.

But even with less than 20km to go the race did not settle, Gladys Verhulst (Le Col-Wahoo) attacked over the top of Markus’s success and quickly built a lead of 35 seconds. Behind Movistar were first to steady the ship, other teams coming to help when the French rider’s lead exceeded 40 seconds.

As the final lap began DSM made their presence felt at the front of the peloton, and with other sprinters’ team the gap began to evaporate and Verhulst was caught just under two kilometres from the line. 

Meanwhile, with the leader caught DSM disappeared from the front only returning to take the win.

Result Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, stage one: Paris Eiffel Tower - Paris Champs Elysées (81.6km)

1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 1-54
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 
3. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx
4. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Liv-XSTRA
5. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar
6. Maike van der Duin
7. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8. Simone Boilard (Can) Sit Michel-Auber93
9. Tamara Dronova (n/a) Roland-Cogeas-Edelweiss
10. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope all at same time 

General classification after stage one 

1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 1-53-50
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 04 sec
3. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx at 06 sec
4. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Liv-XSTRA at 10 sec
5. Emma Bjerg (Den) Movistar
6. Maike van der Duin
7. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8. Simone Boilard (Can) Sit Michel-Auber93
9. Tamara Dronova (n/a) Roland-Cogeas-Edelweiss
10. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope all at same time 

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.