WORDS: REBECCA BLAND
IMAGES: ARNE MILL
Eight days, 1,029km, and history made in the process. The 2022 Tour de France Femmes finished on stage eight, atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles, completing a challenging but varied parcours throughout the past eight days.
The crowds throughout the Tour have been incredible, demonstrating that there is not just an appetite for women’s cycling at this level, but there is great demand. From signs at the side of the road to family picnics, all generations, genders and demographics came out to support the Tour de France Femmes in ways we hadn’t anticipated at the start of the week.
After yesterday’s general classification battle, the team expected that while the fight would still be on, a breakaway might have a better chance of being victorious. With that, Lizzie was the protected rider once again, with the aim of being present in the breakaway.
However, the race started at full gas, with the GC riders unrelenting even before the first climb of the day. Lizzie explained how her day went.
“Well….same story different day! Full gas from the start, people wanted to get in the early break before the climbs. The peloton was strung out for the first like 30km, and it was also up and down which made it really hard I think. Already before the climbs the group was split.
“Then we hit the first long climb, and it split into two groups there and yeah, I found myself in the second group but then it was okay. And then yeah, I just finished the Tour in the group and rode up the final climb, tried to embrace the crowds and really appreciate that everyone was there to support us – it was a good Tour!”
The riders this week performed strongly, with Maike earning herself the best young rider’s jersey two days in a row, three top-six finishes, and plenty of breakaway action from Jesse. The entire team outdid themselves this week, and no doubt inspired plenty of young women in the process.
The riders will next be in action this week, with Lizzie and Anna representing the Isle of Man, and El representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.