It was a decisive day for New Zealander Michaela Drummond who secured her first career victory in the Women’s Tour of Ardèche. Taking place around the city of Nîmes, the stage was marred by a crash in the last turn, 300 meters from the finish line. The accident caused disruption in the peloton but didn’t prevent Drummond, riding for Farto-BTC Women’s Cycling Team, from winning the sprint clearly ahead of Spanish cyclist Lucia Ruiz Perez and Canadian Sarah Van Dam.
The 91.3-kilometre stage set an unpredictable tempo that ended with a tumultuous finale. The First Frenchwoman of the day, Chloé Schoenenberger, managed to close the top 10 despite the chaos. The stage win catapults Drummond into the leader’s position in the general classification, dislodging the previous leader and yesterday’s stage winner Daria Pikulik of Poland, who was involved in the unfortunate crash and couldn’t defend her lead.
The day’s narrative was marked by the tumult of the final kilometres. “It was chaos! My bike was jumping because there were a lot of holes in the road. There were speed bumps, turns… It was tense,” Drummond detailed in a post-race interview. She veered to her right just in time to evade the crash, enabling her to secure her win without even having to execute a full-fledged sprint.
This victory is significant for Drummond not just as her first career win, but also as a result her first UCI victory since joining Farto-BTC Women’s Cycling Team after the suspension of her former team, Zaaf, earlier this season. “I’m really lucky that Farto took me. My teammates are adorable, they are welcoming,” Drummond said. Now, she dons the pink leader’s jersey, a rare occurrence she alluded may have happened once during her junior years in New Zealand.
It’s a milestone that marks the culmination of years of being so close yet so far, often finishing in second or third place. “I have been waiting for it for several years, I have been 2nd or 3rd several times. I really wanted to win,” she exclaimed. It’s a win that also highlights the work of her team, bringing a sense of vindication and accomplishment not just for her but for everyone involved.
With this remarkable stage win, Drummond has reached something that didn’t seem possible in the dark days near the end of the Zaaf experience. The New Zealander will look to retain the jersey for as long as possible on the rolling stages of the Tour de l’Ardeche.
2023 Tour de l’Ardeche Stage 2 result
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