Brilliant team ride sees Juliette Labous climb to 5th on the stage and secure 4th on GC

Brilliant team ride sees Juliette Labous climb to 5th on the stage and secure 4th on GC

The final day of racing at the Tour de France Femmes saw the peloton head to the climbs once more and a summit finish atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles, which would provide a challenging and stern test; and a final GC battle. It was a fast start to the stage with a really high pace and no breakaway able to establish itself until after the first climb, where Pfeiffer Georgi had done a great job to position Juliette Labous and Liane Lippert.

Covering a dangerous and large move, Lippert made it into the day’s breakaway while behind Labous conserved energy in the reduced yellow jersey group. The gap for Lippert’s break yo-yoed throughout the afternoon, reducing below one minute before ballooning back out to almost two. Nevertheless, as the race charged towards the final climb the gap began to tumble and it became clear the GC group would fight it out for the stage win.

With yellow jersey wearer Van Vleuten launching a vicious attack that no one could follow, Lippert dropped back to Labous and helped to set the tempo in her group. After a few kilometres on the front, Lippert swung off and Labous increased the pace once more, thinning down the group even further. Fighting all the way up the steep gradients it was a case of going as deep as you could until the finish. Labous gave it everything on the final gravelled inclines, crossing the line in a brilliant fifth place on the stage – a result which secured a superb fourth place on GC for the team.

“Today it started quite fast on the first climbs and Pfeiffer did a good job positioning us,” explained a smiling Labous. “Then Liane got in the break of the day which was perfect in order to help me for the final. In the ballon d Alsace it was not super hard so it was not ideal for me but we were dependent on the others at that point. The final climb was hard but Liane paced me up for a very long time to try to drop the others which was really good. I then tired to drop Kasia but she was too strong so we have no regrets for the podium. I’m very proud of my fourth place and of the work we did this week. It shows that our hard work is paying off and I’m very happy. It was amazing to race this Tour de France Femmes, I enjoyed every second of it. It was so great to be part of Lorena’s stage wins and I enjoyed all the support from people along the road and on social media. It was a goal to finish top five this year and we worked for it the whole season as a team so we can all be really proud of it.”

Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “Today was good. We started with three which was a bit challenging but they all did what we could. With Liane in the break and with Juliette in the group of favourites behind then we really had everything under control. Then on the last climb Liane was able to help Juliette in a good way. I think we took the maximum out of it today with fifth on the stage and fourth place on GC which we can be more than happy with. When we look back on the whole week, to take two stage wins and get fourth on GC; it’s not bad for the first Tour de France Femmes. Especially the win on the Champs-Élysées, that is one for the history books. In general, with all the riders and staff here – it was nice and a privilege to be a part of this group, I really think we showed how teamwork can be done.”