Leah Thomas, merecido estreno de ‘azul’ en Ardèche

Tour de l’Ardèche (Stage 2)

The North American from Movistar is the new leader in France after getting into the decisive break – with 7 minutes advantage at the line – and landing a crucial blow in the final kilometres to achieve the 36th victory for the team in 2021. 

She showed her great quality throughout the 2021 season, both in team work and in individual endeavours. She was on the verge of being able to raise her arms just four days ago in the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, when she was neutralised 200 metres from the last finish in Santiago. And this Thursday, finally, Leah Thomas (Movistar Team) was able to offer great joy to the team that has supported him during this 2021 season to become the new leader of the Tour de l’Ardèche (UCI 2.1), whose second stage ended at the hands of the American.

The stage, and even the test according to the differences at the finish line -more than 7 ′ with the main chasing group- , was decided on the slopes of Les Oziers (3rd), 70 km from the end. There a group of ten left with the American , which was making its way in the plain and the subsequent ports. And after the last one, Thomas started from said group – with women of the quality of Deignan (TFS), García (ALE), Rooijakkers (LIV) or the leader Sierra (MNX) – to reach the finish with nine seconds that constitute his new advantage in the general.

It is the 36th victory of Team Movistar structure in 2021, 22 nd of a picture phone female who will fight now with Leah to keep the maillot pink leader in five stages remaining. Before the finish on top of Mont Lozère, on Saturday, they will have a flat stage, with a presumable end to the sprint, in Avignon, on Friday.

STATEMENTS / Leah Thomas:

“After the race was relaunched after a crash caution – there were no more ambulances; I have not even heard the fall, I was fourth in the peloton and Alicia was pulling-, on the rise where the highlight was given, the third of the day, we have passed at a good pace and in the hard part a small group has formed more reduced. From there, it was 7-8 kilometres of smoother sections, but always uphill, and there have been quite a few attacks. I tried to go out to those movements, I was very aware of Lizzie (Deignan), and at a certain moment I looked back and had made a hole. Right away we started to collaborate and the good cut was finished.

He had not planned to seek the attack so soon from the top. Liv came with two runners and they were playing their attack and counter tricks very well. Things were getting very tense with regard to who was going to shoot for them, and at the moment when it seemed that there was no order, there I tried to play my trick: to go out from afar by myself and try to hold the advantage. It was not a planned attack, but a reaction. I have given everything … and even goal.

Thomas, on the podium as the stage winner. (c) Photo Gomez Sport

Very happy for this triumph. It has been a year of many efforts, and finally being able to climb to the top of the podium is very special. It’s nice to have the support of the girls in this race, they are always there for what is needed. There are five stages left, five more chances for us, and also a lot of work ahead to defend this jersey. It’s a great reward… but for me, it’s just the beginning, at least of this race. I haven’t thought much about the ending and how it will turn out. That will come.

Of course, I would like to defend the lead as much as I can. There are days with a lot of mountains and in this race there are very good climbers. It will be a tough challenge, but for the moment we are in a very good position. Removing the ten riders in front, the differences are already very large and we can also play with that, in order to defend ourselves against certain riders and teams. Hopefully the rest of the girls can also have their options during the week and we can fight for new podiums in these five days ”.

Cover image (c): Photo Gomez Sport