Clermont-Ferrand > Clermont-Ferrand 124km
The opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes isn’t going to be easy for the sprinters, but most will hope to survive and battle for the first yellow jersey of the race. As usual, all eyes will be on SD Worx, they start the stage with the top 3 riders who can win this stage, if you believe the bookmakers.
A bit cloudy, but it’s still going to be a warm day.
The big moment in the stage. It might only be short, but the climb is steep, 1.6km at 7.6% is not to be laughed at. The crest comes with just 9.3km to go, which could tempt some into attacking. The good news for the sprinters is that there’s a light headwind on the climb.
The run for home is downhill, it’s going to be very fast and not easy for those dropped on the climb to make it back to the front. The final turn is with 500m to go, then it’s an average of 5% up to the line.
Tactics Over to SD Worx. They’ve dominated most of the races this year, seemingly able to win at ease. Heading into this stage they have three excellent options; it just depends on the type of race they want and what happens on the final climb. I think they’ll want to win with Wiebes, that means they’ll look to mark any moves in the final kilometre of the climb, stopping them from getting an advantage. If Wiebes struggles, they can look to Kopecky, and if it becomes a small sprint from the GC riders, they’ve got Vollering.
They’re not the only ones with an interest in this stage. Lidl – Trek will be confident that Balsamo will survive the climb, and Jumbo-Visma will hope to see Vos in the mix, they should be happy to help set pace throughout the day and stop attacks on the climb. Movistar are the team I’m interested in watching. They have Norsgaard as a sprint option, but will they go on the attack with van Vleuten or Lippert? As Norsgaard is unlikely to beat some of those already mentioned, I think the team will be one looking to make the climb hard and attack near the crest, but I don’t think this move will work.
Lorena Wiebes – she used to be thought of as a pure sprinter, but since joining SD Worx, her climbing as improved significantly, but it’s still not 100% certain she survives the final climb. They’ll try and control the climb, setting a fast pace to try and deter any attacks. If Wiebes survives, then the team will boss the finale and get her into a great spot for the final corner. The uphill kick is perfect, Wiebes is brilliant on the percentages in the final 400m.
Lotte Kopecky – what a brilliant plan B for SD Worx. Her spring campaign was incredible, the final climb isn’t going to worry a rider who won Flanders. Wiebes will be the main protected rider, but if she falters, Kopecky will step forward. The uphill grind to the line also suits Kopecky very well.
Marianne Vos – it shows that we’re now seeing a changing of guard, she would always have been favourite to win a stage like this, but not anymore. Vos hasn’t been at her best this season, but she still won two stages in the Vuelta. The concern for me was the way she was climbing in the Giro, there needs to be an improvement if she wants to win this stage.
Elisa Balsamo – she won her first two races this year but hasn’t tasted success since. The former world champion will like this stage, she climbs better than a lot of sprinters and has an excellent kick in an uphill finish.
Liane Lippert – late attack option, unlikely to be successful, but you got to try.
The race to start with a win for SD Worx.
It’s a day for Lorena Wiebes.