TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2023 | STAGE 2 | CLERMONT-FERRAND > MAURIAC
Rising through the ranks as one of the best puncheurs in the world, Liane Lippert (Movistar) showed the extent of her talent to power to the stage win on day 2 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. After an explosive finale, the German national champion edged Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) on the uphill sprint to Mauriac, with Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) rounding out the podium of the stage. Kopecky retains the Maillot Jaune after her dominant performance in the opening stage. More hills await the riders on day 3 but the fast women believe the road to Montignac-Lascaux gives them a proper opportunity to try and control the race.
RISING TEMPS, RISING ROADS INSPIRE ATTACKS
The temperature quickly rises with an uphill start that inspires attackers as soon as they leave Clermont-Ferrand. After several attempts, Georgia Williams (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) and Hannah Ludwig (Uno-X) manage to get away from the bunch at km 9. Meanwhile, many riders are dropped, including the likes of Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). The pace is too much for Amandine Fouquenet (Arkéa), who started despite a stomach problem and is forced to abandon. Lara Viecelli (Israel Premier Tech Roland) was a non-starter due to a similar problem according to her team.
Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck) sets off in pursuit but she’s reeled in at km 20. The situation settles, allowing the attackers to build a gap of one minute while the stragglers return to the bunch. Williams goes first atop the first two climbs of the day, the cat-4 ascents of Côte du Mont-Dore (km 42.6) and Côte de la Stèle (km 51). The following downhill allows the two leaders to increase their lead up to 1’35″.
THE RACE EXPLODES
The peloton accelerates on the valley leading to the main climb of the day, the cat-2 Côte des Plaines (summit at km 105.1). Williams and Ludwig shake hands as the peloton get back to them after 88km together at the front. And more attackers light fireworks on the 4.5km climb (average gradient: 5.5%), quickly followed by the cat-4 ascent of Côte des Boissières (1.2km at 7.2%, summit at km 108.4).
Julie Van de Velde leads the way to the first summit, ahead of her Fenix-Deceuninck teammate Yara Kastelijn. The bunch explodes due to the pace and to a crash involving Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek). They both quickly get back on their bike while Kastelijn goes solo on the climb up Côte des Boissières.
AND IN THE END, A GERMAN WINS
Eva van Agt (Jumbo Visma) and Anouska Koster (Uno X) join Kastelijn at the front to enter the final lap (36.7km) with a lead of 40″ to the bunch. Kastelijn also dominates the cat-4 Côte de Merlhac (km 128.6). She leads the QOM standings with a total of 7 points.
The three attackers enter the last 20 kilometres with a gap of 45″. Kastelijn is dropped by her two breakaway rivals as she misses a turn with 10km to go. And Van Agt crashes with 6km to go. Koster and Kastelijn are eventually reeled in with 4km to go.
The likes of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram), Juliette Labous (DSM-Firmenich), Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) all try to get away on the final slopes of the stage but it comes down to an uphill sprint in Mauriac. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) leads out Lotte Kopecky but Liane Lippert (Movistar) goes past the Belgian icon right before the line.
ANOUSKA KOSTER: “MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH EVA”
“I felt really good in the race today and the team performed really well so it’s a nice reward to be on the podium after a day of hard work. But after the race, I was a bit in a state of shock. Eva [van Agt] crashed on the downhill and it was really not nice to see. I just hope she’s alright and my thoughts at the moment are fully with her. We had a good cooperation in the front group, trying to build a gap as big as possible before the finale. The ambition was to win the stage. We came really far… Maybe next time it will work out!”
LIANE LIPPERT: “IT FEELS LIKE A BREAKTHROUGH”
“This is so special. I’ve been waiting for so long for such a win. I won the national championships but to win in a race like this means so much to me. I feel like now I’ve had my breakthrough and I can keep winning. I didn’t believe it, even when I crossed the line. We knew this was one of the hardest stages. There was a break and it all came together for the final climb. The girls put me in a good position. I felt really good, in control, and I think I did a good sprint. It’s great to be alongside Annemiek [van Vleuten]. I also think it takes pressure away from me and we’re different riders. I’m more punchy and she’s more about the longer climbs. I can climb but I’m not a GC rider. My next ambition is to win classics. Coming here, we all knew the big goal is to win the GC with Annemiek. Sometimes it means we can’t fully play our own cards but we get our reward when we all step on the podium like we did at the end of the Giro. I’m also grateful for the team to have given my chance.”
LOTTE KOPECKY: “I SPRINTED TO THE LINE AND I SAW I HAD A FLAT TYRE”
“It was a nervous finale with the rain. And I felt there was something wrong with my bike. Demi [Vollering] started the lead out, I started my sprint, and I didn’t feel much grip on my back wheel. I didn’t know what it was. I sprinted to the line and then I saw I had a flat tyre. But this finish was also very good for Liane Lippert and I think she deserves this win. I’m disappointed because I didn’t finish it off after the work of my teammates but we should be really happy no one crashed and we’re in a very good position in GC. Tomorrow is not as hard as today. The finale is also more flat. It really suits Lorena [Wiebes].”