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Ricarda Bauernfeind takes her maiden WWT win with solo break into Albi

Ricarda Bauernfeind

Ricarda Bauernfeind, from the Canyon//SRAM team, secured a solo victory in the fifth stage of the Tour de France Femmes, making her mark 36 kilometres before the finish line in Albi. Marlen Reusser and Liane Lippert followed in second and third places respectively, while shortly afterwards, Lotte Kopecky outpaced a significantly reduced peloton to claim the sprint.

This fifth stage was a typical transition ride from Onet-le-Château to Albi, stretching over approximately 126 kilometres with three categorised climbs. The highest peak was the Côte de Monestiés, after which it was just under 25 kilometres to the finish line. This course offered opportunities for both attackers and strong sprinters. However, Lorena Wiebes, winner of the third stage, was unable to compete due to illness. Jenny Rissveds and Mie Bjorndal Ottestad were also unable to start today.

Despite numerous attempts to break away from the peloton early on, the first few kilometres saw no successful separations. The peloton eventually split into several groups, with Elisa Balsamo losing her chance of winning due to falling behind. A group of eleven riders took advantage of the confusion and managed to gain a 45-second lead.

However, the jury disapproved of how Demi Vollering was assisted by the SD Worx team car after she had a puncture. Her team car was instructed to head into the convoy but even after a warning, they did more car drafting just as she was about to rejoin the group. At the first categorised climb of the day, the breakaway riders were caught by the main group. This climb also led to the peloton thinning significantly, with the likes of Marianne Vos unable to keep up. The Dutch rider was potentially a favourite going into this stage.

Yara Kastelijn excelled in the climbs, equalling Anouska Koster in the mountain classification and subsequently taking the lead after reaching the summit of the Côte de Laguépie first. Ricarda Bauernfeind then launched a successful attack with 36 kilometres remaining, leaving Claire Steels behind (who initially joined her) and maintaining a significant lead over the reduced peloton.

With five kilometres left, Bauernfeind’s lead was still a comfortable 35 seconds. Reusser and Lippert tried to bridge the gap, but they were unable to catch the German rider. Despite their efforts, Bauernfeind crossed the finish line first, with Reusser out-sprinting Lippert for second place 22 seconds later. Ten seconds after that, Kopecky led the peloton across the line, securing a fourth place on the stage and keeping the yellow jersey she earned on Stage 1.

2023 Tour de France Femmes Stage 5 result

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Main photo credit: ASO/Thomas Maheux