TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES 2023 | STAGE 3 | COLLONGES-LA-ROUGE > MONTIGNAC-LASCAUX
Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) showed her speed to dominate the sprint at the end of stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift… But victory almost escaped the Dutch sprinter in the streets of Montignac-Lascaux as Julie Van de Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) was caught with only 200 metres to go. On the line, Wiebes got the best of Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma), with Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) rounding out the stage podium. Wiebes is the first rider to make it three stage wins in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (Vos and Van Vleuten have 2), and the first to win both in 2022 and in 2023. Most combative rider of the day, Van de Velde will wear the polka-dot jersey as the new Queen of the mountains on stage 4, the longest of this edition with 177.1 km to go from Cahors to Rodez.
The uphill start inspires early attackers but Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) is the only one who manages to get away, after 4 kilometres of battles. The German rider opens a gap of up to 2’10″. Meanwhile, the different attempts to counter-attack are neutralised by the bunch. And two riders, weakened by physical issues, are forced to abandon: Marte Berg Edseth (Uno-X) and Lucie Jounier (Coop-Hitec Products).
Hammes takes the most QOM points atop the ascents of Côte du Peyroux (cat. 3), Côte de Pératel (cat. 4) and Côte de l’Escurotte (cat. 4). She racks up 7 points, but Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck) also takes one point to defend her polka-dot jersey, with a tally up to 8 points.
VAN DE VELDE IS THE NEW QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAINS
The peloton accelerates and Hammes is caught with 83km to go. A flurry of attacks ensue, with Jumbo Visma’s Anna Henderson and Amber Kraak, Lidl Trek’s Lizzie Deignan and Lauretta Hanson, Canyon//Sram’s Agnieszka Skalniak Sojka and Fenix-Deceuninck’s Julie Van de Velde among the most active riders. But Lotte Kopecky reacts in person to control the moves and SD Worx eventually restore order.
Onto the penultimate ascent of the day, Van de Velde attacks again. This time, she opens a gap of 45″ atop the cat-4 Côte des Andrieux (km 89.4), and still leads by 25″ atop the cat-4 Côte de Saint-Robert (km 92.2). With a total of 9 QOM points, she all but secures the polka-dot jersey at the end of the stage.
VAN DE VELDE ALMOST RESISTS WIEBES
Counter-attacks fail while Van de Velde keeps pushing – her gap is up to 2’30″ into the last 30km of the stage. But Canyon//Sram try to spilt the bunch through the wind, and DSM-Firmenich up the ante as well with Lidl-Trek. The attacker’s lead is down to 1’05″ with 20km to go. And 25″ as the riders enter the last 10km… But Van de Velde pushes her lead back up to 35″ under the 5km-to-go arch.
The Belgian attacker was only caught with 200 metres to go. Sprinters flew past her, with Lotte Kopecky launching Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) to victory, ahead of Marianne Vos. Kopecky rounded out the podium herself, cementing her status as the leader of the race.
WIEBES: “SOMETIMES, YOU HAVE TO GAMBLE”
“I didn’t think too much. The most important is to have full trust in your lead-out and that’s how I feel with Lotte [Kopecky]. We went into the last corner and I realised we were gonna catch Julie [Van de Velde]. Lotte was pulling really fast and hard. I was also looking to the side of the road to see the distance to the finish and when Marianne [Vos] went, I also went and I’m happy to win like that. We felt it was not up to us to start the chase because hard days are coming and we don’t our teammates to give their whole now and not play a part in the GC battle. I also know DSM from riding with them last year and I had a feeling they would commit to the chase for Charlotte [Kool]. Sometimes, you have to gamble. We also found ourselves in this situation many times where we had to lead the chase. It’s part of the game.”
JULIE VAN DE VELDE : “I TRIED TO NOT LOOK BACK”
“It’s a bit of mixed feelings because I came so close to the stage victory. But it’s a dream to be in the polka-dot jersey, it’s an amazing day… With Yara [Kastelijn], we were 1 and 2 in the QOM classifications, so we could try both as long as the jersey stayed in the team, that was the most important… I heard that the teammates were doing a great effort to try to block the speed in the bunch. And I heard my sports director saying that the gap was growing again, so I tried to give everything, tried to not look back, but unfortunately they came in the last few hundred meters.”
LOTTE KOPECKY: “EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT”
“Julie [Van de Velde] was very strong and it was nice to see but in the end, it’s always hard for a lone leader out for so long against the peloton. I tried to stay calm, because if I got nervous, so would have Lorena [Wiebes]. In the final corner, I could see Julie and I went on instinct. I just felt I had to go and I felt really good. Lorena passed me, I kept going, she won, and I got 3rd, it’s really nice. We’re having a very special year. And everything is going great in this Tour. I don’t mind doing a bit more effort to help my teammates. Demi [Vollering] is well positioned in GC, we have two victories, a place of 2nd, the green jersey… But in the end, having the yellow on the final day is most important and we focus on that.”