Gaia Realini stamps authority on race with Stage 4 win

Gaia Realini winning Stage 4 of the 2023 Tour de l'Avenir

In today’s stage of the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes, Gaia Realini of Italy staged an astounding solo ride to capture the win in stage 4, finishing at Megéve. From a trailing group of three, the Dutch racer Shirin Van Anrooij finished 41 seconds behind Realini, securing second place. The sprint for third was a neck-and-neck affair between Britain’s Anna Shackley and Antonia Niedermaier of Germany, with Shackley narrowly securing the spot.

Race leader Niedermaier managed to hold on to her lead despite the fierce competition, finishing strongly in the group of chasers. The German racer will have to battle on the final day of racing, keeping a 14-second lead over Shackley. Meanwhile, Van Anrooij also saw a 4-second improvement but remained in third place overall, trailing by 19 seconds. Realini’s stage victory enabled her to ascend seven spots, positioning her fourth overall, a mere 33 seconds behind the leader.

Realini remarked that she considered the stage challenging and commended her team for its efforts. She launched her attack over 20 kilometres from the finish line. Reflecting on the final day of racing, she stated, “The feeling is good so far, but what happens tomorrow is still uncertain.”

The fourth stage was just 80 kilometres long but featured a demanding 1,941 metres of elevation across two categorised climbs, culminating in a mountaintop finish. The fifth and final stage, known as the queen stage, promises another gruelling day with 2,543 metres of climbing over a 98-kilometre course.

Shackley now leads the mountain classification, with a marginal one and two points over Dutch teammates Van Anrooij and the winner of Stage 3 Fem van Empel, respectively. Van Empel is also ahead in the points classification with a 20-point lead over Belgium’s Julie De Wilde, while Niedermaier is on the cusp of claiming the youth classification title with none of the rest of the top 4 riders eligible.

Van Anrooij acknowledged that the last two stages were anticipated to be demanding. She mentioned that her pacing wasn’t perfect and that she had to set her own rhythm during the ascent eventually. Anna Shackley expressed regret for not capitalising on an opportunity to finish second in the stage but stated that she remains focused on contending for the general classification.

Niedermaier, pleased but not yet complacent, described the stage as both a physical and mental challenge. She emphasised the importance of vigilance in the final stage, especially against strong competitors like Realini.

Riders like Nienke Vinke and Noemi Rüegg also weighed in, citing the tactical nature of the race and the steep climbs as defining aspects. Vinke expressed that they aimed to support Van Anrooij but couldn’t find the perfect moment to attack. Rüegg conveyed satisfaction with her top 10 finish and highlighted that the final stage would require sheer grit.

As the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes nears its conclusion, suspense looms large. The top spots are still in flux, and the riders are gearing up for what promises to be an epic showdown on the queen stage. It’s a wheel-to-wheel battle, and only the toughest will prevail.

2023 Tour de l’Avenir Stage 4 result

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