As the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift hit the mountains, CANYON//SRAM Racing’s Kasia Niewiadoma put in a fighting performance to hold her third place in the general classification. Teammates Pauliena Rooijakkers and Elise Chabbey climbed strongly to finish in the top fifteen, putting CANYON//SRAM Racing back in the lead in the team classification.
Going into the penultimate stage, 2 minutes 34 seconds separated the top ten riders. With three category one climbs over 127km, changes in the general classification today were highly anticipated. A large breakaway with Tiffany Cromwell and Soraya Paladin went clear for the first 30 kilometres but was quickly overtaken on the early, steep slopes of the first climb, Col du Petit Ballon. Annemiek van Vleuten (MOV) attacked first, and while she rode away into the yellow jersey, a battle for the other places ensued behind.
“On the first climb, I reminded myself that the second part of the stage is still hard and I have to be ready,” explained Kasia as she found herself in a chase group of six riders behind van Vleuten, (Demi) Vollering, (Elisa) Longo Borghini, each riding alone.
“Our chase group didn’t ride so hard on the second climb, and we worked quite well together in the valley before we hit the final climb. Coming to the Grand Ballon with a group of six I expected we would catch Longo Borghini.”
“After we caught her I kept a hard pace and thought only of the GC. It was a brutal day but I felt well prepared and I’m happy to be in this position before tomorrow’s final stage,” added Kasia.
Pauliena added, “It wasn’t a surprise that van Vleuten attacked as she’s done that in the past. Kasia could stay calm and she rode fantastically. I’m happy to have ridden better today. I blew myself up in the first climb but I could recover and thought there might be a chance I could come back to Kasia’s group on the second climb but I didn’t get there. I could keep a strong pace on the final climb to finish tenth and we’re happy also to show our consistency in the last days and be in a good position on the team GC too.”
Pauliena finishing tenth on the stage, and Elise in fifteenth place, helped boost CANYON//SRAM Racing back into leader of the team classification. In the overall, van Vleuten leads by +3:14 to Vollering and +4:33 to Kasia, with Elise in tenth position.
Tomorrow, the final stage has a summit finish on the iconic La Super Planche des Belle Filles.
“I’m curious to see how people recover from today’s hard stage and can handle the final climb. Who knows what is possible tomorrow. Our team had a great day with Pauliena and Elise climbing well. It’s an incredibly tough last kilometre but I’m feeling good for the battle,” said Kasia.