WORDS: REBECCA BLAND
IMAGES: ZAC wILLIAMS / aRNE mILL
The Tour de France Femmes may have reached its halfway point after yesterday, but the riders were faced with the longest day of the Tour for stage five, at 175km long. The route began in Bar-le-Duc taking in a reasonably flat parcours, with only two classified climbs. It was expected to end in a mass sprint, and that it did, with a reasonably uneventful day preceding the final few kilometres.
However, having an overly relaxed bunch resulted in a large crash with roughly 40km to go with a large portion of the peloton coming down. All six of our riders were involved, with Majo and Gladys taking the brunt of it. Both broke bones and their bikes in their falls, but rode to the finish in the back of the bunch.
With two riders down, Maike’s leadout train was hampered, but the remaining girls did well to keep her in a good position as the final kilometres closed in and the pace increased rapidly, as the sprint teams finally brought back the remnants of the day’s breakaway.
Fortunately, even without a big leadout, Maike did what she does best and navigated her way through the hectic closing kilometres, finding the right wheels to sit on as she explained.
“I think until the last 20km I was really relaxed, just hanging in the bunch because what did I have to do? Nothing, just wait, and I knew that the last climb were where the bonus seconds where you have to be on the front and from there it was full effort, downhill, really hectic and technical.
“So from there I tried to be in a really good position, but it was a little bit shitty because we lost so many girls in the crash, but I had two girls with me and in the end, it was really hectic and I said, ‘It’s alright’, and I followed the wheels and did my own thing, follow my own way. I ended up in the wheel of Lorena and I was like ‘Yeah, this is perfect’.”
This is the second time Maike’s sprinting instinct has worked in her favour this week after she finished sixth on the Champs-Élysées, alongside her efforts in stage two to stick with the final breakaway and finish fifth on a tough stage.
Although the flatter days might be over for this year’s Tour de France Femmes, Maike is pleased with her performance and considers it a success already.
“With three times top 10 in the Tour, I’ve worn the white jersey, I’d love if I can finish this Tour and maybe spend one day in a breakaway, but then it’s already been super successful.”
Maike’s success so far has already earned her the title of the ‘new Mathieu van der Poel’, a sign that the world is watching her make her mark in her first Tour de France Femmes.
Stage six is a far hillier day, starting in the town the race finished in today.
Catch it live on GCN+, Eurosport or Discovery.