WORDS: REBECCA BLAND
iMAGES: ZAC WILLIAMS
The penultimate stage of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes was not for the faint-hearted. Lung-busting climbs and full gas racing defined the day as the battle for the general classification finally opened up. The riders took in over 3,000m of elevation on today’s stage, climbing both the petit and grand ballons in the process.
While the plan was to try to feature in the break, the team knew it would be a challenge, with the battle for GC likely to kick off as the race hit the mountains, as DS Nico explained.
“It’s the queen stage of the tour, really hard with long and tough climbs, and more than 3,000m of elevation. We plan to ride aggressive and our two riders for today are Lizzie and Eva. We’ll try to make the break with them in and support them.”
Yesterday’s breakaway star Jesse continued her run of form by joining an early break with Maike, but it was short-lived, as Lizzie explained.
“It was full gas from the beginning, I think a lot of people wanted to be in front before the climbs started. A big group got away but only had 30 seconds at the base of the climb. We had Jesse in the group which was good. It got brought back straight away though as Annemiek went directly on the first climb and the group was split to pieces.
“From there on it was just trying to climb at your own pace and find a group. I brought back a lot of people and found myself in a nice group. Then we just rode hard until the finish. Super hard day!”
After an incredibly tough day, she crossed the line in 27th, just under 20 minutes after the stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten – demonstrating just how high the pace was being forced from the front of the race. Unfortunately, Gladys did not finish the stage and thus won’t take to the start on stage eight.
Tomorrow the final stage of the race could play out in several ways, as GC riders fight to finalise their positions, and smaller teams look for a final stage win opportunity in a potential breakaway.
The final day hosts the only summit finish of the race, atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles – made famous by the men’s Tour de France, and we expect similar fireworks and aggressive racing on the last day of this year’s Tour.
You can watch it live on GCN+, Discovery, and Eurosport.