The second day of the Tour de l’Avenir saw plenty of crashes, including one involving the race leader Antonia Niedermaiaer. Whilst almost all the affected riders were able to continue yesterday, Marie-Morgane Le Deunff attributed the day’s tension to the significance of the event. A standout rider on the French team who normally riders for Arkea, she indicated that this isn’t unusual for these big inaugural races. Whether it’s the Tour de France Femmes or Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Deunff was clear in stating that a heightened desire to perform well often leads to poor riding and subsequent crashes. Le Deunff voiced hopes whilst speaking to DirectVelo that the coming week would see a decline in such incidents as the race progresses.
The French team was focused on the bunch sprint on Stage 2, a strategy that was disrupted during the race’s crucial final bend. Le Deunff revealed that although they were well-positioned, they were funnelled into the bend and then found it challenging to recover. “In the end, I came out around 10th, which was my finishing place,” she said, stating that their inability to come back up cost them dearly.
Looking ahead, Le Deunff conveyed optimism about France’s prospects in the mountains. She explained that while the team boasts strong climbers, her role was geared towards helping the team rather than achieving individual accolades. Participating in the inaugural Tour de l’Avenir Femmes was a goal for her, she said, pointing out that the allure of a race’s first edition always sparks interest.
However, the season hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Le Deunff. She shared that the weight of prior races has been taking a toll on her legs. “I’ve had more than 40 days of racing. I arrived fatigued at the Tour [de France Femmes], and it just continued,” she disclosed. The strain has affected her mentally as well, causing her to take some time off after the Tour de France. “We prepare so much, live a monk’s life, and then show up feeling less than our best; it’s difficult,” she admitted. Yet, she sees room for improvement and a chance to turn things around. It’s an issue that reached a wider audience during the World Championships when Marlen Reusser pulled to the side of the road, overwhelmed by all of the preparation and pressure placed on her.