Juliette Labous takes fighting 9th place while bad luck for Liane Lippert

Juliette Labous takes fighting 9th place while bad luck for Liane Lippert

The proverbial day of two halves, stage three at the Tour de France Femmes saw the peloton take on 133 kilometres from Reims to Épernay. The flatter, albeit still rolling, roads in the opening half of the day saw lots of attacks with Franziska Koch and Charlotte Kool particularly active for the team; either trying to make the moves or shutting down any dangerous attacks.

This pattern continued for a while before things eventually calmed down. However, some crosswind sections sparked the peloton back into life with the team and alert and aware for any danger, which ultimately didn’t come to fruition. Heading into the final steep classified climb, Lorena Wiebes and Pfeiffer Georgi positioned Liane Lippert and Juliette Labous towards the front through the twisting streets which saw some crashes in the bunch. Labous was held up somewhat but Georgi closed the gap just before the start of the climb.

Lippert and Labous pushed the power on the pedals, with Lippert riding excellently towards the front as they made their way up the 12 percent ramps. Towards the top the pace increased once more and Labous, after her earlier surge to come back, had to let go of the wheels and ride at her own tempo – crossing the top of the climb alongside two others just a handful of seconds behind. Out front Lippert crested in second place but disaster struck as she slid out around a corner after Vollering went down in front of her, and despite getting back on her bike okay, she wouldn’t return to the front group.

Labous did manage to get back alongside Vos and Uttrup Ludwig and despite some more attacks on the climb where the bonus sprint was, it came down to a group of ten fighting it out for the stage win. On the punchy uphill drag to the line Labous dug deep and pushed all the way to the finish, ending the day in a good ninth place – a result that sees her move up to eighth on GC for the team.

“It was a hard one today,” explained Labous at the finish. “The start was already fast with a lot of attacks but we had everything under control with Franziska and Charlotte doing a lot to close things down which was nice. It was the same for the crosswind sections, we were always in the front. Before the steep climb Lorena brought Liane into position and Pfeiffer was with me, and we were both in good position. Niewiadoma crashed just in front of me so there was a gap but Pfeiffer brought me back right at the bottom of the climb but I was then already a bit on my limit so the climb was for sure hard. I made it almost with the best and was with Vos and Ludwig, and we rode together and made it back to the front but unfortunately Liane had crashed over the top. Then it was just hard. There were some attacks but I could follow and on the bonus climb it was hard as well but I could come back directly on the downhill. Then at the finish I had nothing left but I gave everything I had; and ninth it is.”

Team DSM coach Albert Timmer added: “It was an okay day for us. Until the steep climb we had everything under control, managing to do everything that we wanted to do. Unfortunately, on top of the climb Liane crashed with really good legs. She was with the best at that point and we had the legs to compete for the win. So that was a really disappointing moment for her as she had a really good shot I think to win today. On the other hand our GC with Juliette is where it should be, she was with the best nine in this field – and that we can be really happy with. There are positives and negatives from today; the positive is that we’re still in GC but the negative being Liane’s crash. We’re ready to go for it again tomorrow.”