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Strong Silke Smulders animates hard sixth stage

On the final day before the real mountains show up Silke Smulders was in a breakaway that animated stage six of the Tour de France Femmes. The youngster of Liv Racing Xstra showed impressive riding in the front.

The sixth stage was on paper suitable for the escapees with several hills on its way to Rosheim. In the opening part of the stage a lot of riders tried to get in the breakaway. Liv Racing Xstra was very active and tried to enter in the right group. It last till 50 kilometres before a group got clear. Silke Smulders represented Liv Racing Xstra in the front group of 14 riders. They escapees opened up a gap of two minutes.

On the second last climb of the day Smulders was still battling in the front group. In the descent the front group split and Smulders was in het first part of the group. Due to a lack of co-operation all came back together in the front. Also the peloton closed in quickly. On the final climb of the day the escapees were caught. Despite several accelerations in the finale a bunch sprint had to bring the decision. Marianne Vos took the stage win, while Rachele Barbieri took another top-10 spot finishing ninth.

“With the team we had as goal to be in the day`s breakaway today, because there were chances that a group could survive on this course. After several attempts of me and my team mates I got in the right group. We took a nice advantage, but it was not enough to keep the peloton behind us. On the local lap it was hard to hang on during the second last climb, but I managed somehow. In the descent a rider got away and with my descending skills I could follow in the first group. Too bad the co-operation wasn`t that good that we could get a good gap”, Smulders told after the stage.

“Still it was a nice day in the front. I have worked hard to get here. On the second and third day I already felt good, but was held up by crashes. Yesterday I went down too, but I could return to the bunch and do my job in the finale. Today was the last possibility for a breakaway to make it till the end. So it was nice to be there. Now two hard days in the mountains are coming up. The atmosphere in the team is great and this gives a lot of morale. We will see what the next days will bring for us”, Smulders concluded.

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