As the cycling world turned its focus on the Women’s Tour of Ardèche, the narrative was shaped largely around the gripping tussle for the lead, punctuated by the relentless determination and strategies of the teams.
Taking command during the weekend at the Women’s Tour of Ardèche, Mont Lozere winner Marta Cavalli now has a specific objective: to maintain her ‘maglia rosa’—the race leader’s jersey—until Monday evening, facing two tricky stages. Her team, FDJ-Suez, masterfully dominated the sixth day. “The team did an incredible job. We effectively curbed attacks. It’s reassuring to know the team trusts me,” Cavalli expressed.
On her own in the final race hour, Barbara Malcotti of Human Powered Health clinched a third-stage win for the team. Yet, she remains at a safe distance in the overall rankings. UAE Team ADQ’s girls couldn’t unsettle the French WorldTeam, even though Olivia Baril displayed her top-notch physical form, winning the sprint among the favourites at the finish hill. Cavalli commented, “We controlled the race well, without any significant threats. We have to repeat this performance tomorrow.”
The final stage, however, looks to be more challenging. “Only one stage remains, but it’s not the simplest. We expect an extremely short but intense race right from the start. We’re prepared, aware that the terrain will bring unexpected challenges,” Cavalli shared post-podium.
Reflecting on the victory, she said, “We’ve done great throughout the week. Our team has been solid, and working together has brought us immense joy.” At 23, she made her daring move approximately 40 kilometres from the finish, post the third last GPM of Grandes Vignes. Despite doubts about her bold choice, she powered through, resisting the peloton’s return. Malcotti’s push in the end not only secured the stage victory but also advanced her overall standing.
Looking back to the fourth stage, Anastasiya Kolesava was poised to make a mark, riding high on her recent Tour de Toscane win. Recounting the memorable victory, she said, “It was a surreal feeling, a memory that’ll last a lifetime.” Yet, the year hasn’t been a smooth ride for her. Visa issues disrupted her season’s start, nearly bringing her career to a halt. However, post her return at the Tour de Suisse, she’s been on fire, evident from her performance in Toscane and the subsequent bold escape in the Drôme. Despite the challenges, she’s emerged mentally stronger and more focused. “Starting the season late was a setback, but it gave me a burning desire to excel,” she added.
As the Tour of Ardèche unravels, the competition intensifies. The final stage will undoubtedly be a decisive platform where strategies will be laid bare, as every turn of the pedal brings the cyclists closer to victory or defeat.
2023 Tour de l’Ardeche Stage 6 result
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