Demi Vollering (SD Worx) started the stage in yellow after her dominating performance during Saturday’s stage 7 finish atop the infamous Col du Tourmalet. She ended the stage as this year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift winner.
And what a ride it has been! Let’s dig into some major takeaways from the last eight days of riveting racing.
Demi Vollering is a force to be reckoned with
Among the remarkable cyclists who showcased their talent at this year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Demi Vollering from SD Worx stood out as an unstoppable force.
Vollering’s journey to victory was not without challenges, though. During Stage 5 to Albi, she was penalised for slipstreaming behind her team’s car, costing her a valuable 20 seconds. This setback dropped her to seventh place overall, 1 minute and 3 seconds behind the leader, Kopecky, and 12 seconds behind other top contenders in the General Classification (GC).
However, this did not deter Vollering. In the climbs of the Pyrenees on Stage 7, she unleashed her full potential and demonstrated her rising star, outshining even her rival, compatriot, and former teammate Annemiek van Vleuten. The critical moment that solidified her victory came 5 km from the finish, as the thick mist enveloped the Pyrenees. On the steepest section of the Col du Tourmalet, Vollering made a decisive move, accelerating away from the elite group of riders. Her rivals struggled to react, and she vanished into the gloomy mountainscape, building an insurmountable lead that would eventually lead her to triumph.
“I still can’t believe it. Hard work, but it’s not just working hard. It’s believing in it. It’s so much,” Vollering said following the race finish. “In the end, you have a dream, and you work really hard for it, but you keep yourself a bit calm. You need to find a good balance in your life, and how you can do it. Find a relaxed way to do all this. I think this year I feel really stable, good in what I’m doing. I feel like everything comes together. It’s just an amazing season for me,” she added.
— Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (@LeTourFemmes) July 30, 2023
SD Worx is the team to beat
Team SD Worx exhibited a dominating display of strength and strategy throughout the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. Marlen Reusser, the European time trial champion, complemented Vollering’s triumph with her powerhouse performance in the individual time trial in Pau. For the final stage, the team swept the podium, showcasing their collective dominance.
Despite their challenges, including a dispute with race commissaries that led to Vollering’s penalty and the removal of their sports director, Danny Stam, SD Worx remained steadfast and focused. They held the yellow jersey throughout the race, having secured it on Stage 1 in Clermont Ferrand, and they claimed four stage victories out of eight, including the prestigious individual time trial.
The success of SD Worx in this year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has drawn both admiration and criticism, with some labelling them as “arrogant.” Nevertheless, the team remains defiant. As SD Worx’s sports director, Anna van der Breggen, put it, “I’d be frustrated too if I wasn’t on the team that’s winning all the time.”
Marlen Reusser is our time-trialling queen
Kasia Niewiadoma remains a powerful lesson in consistency
Once again taking third in the General Classification, Niewiadoma also walked away from this year’s race as Queen of the Mountain. A very well-deserved title after her incredible performance during stage 7, where she impressed everyone by seizing the opportunity to insert herself into the fierce battle between Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering.
Entering the queen stage in fifth position, Niewiadoma’s impressive performance on the Col d’Aspin ascent saw her moving up the standings to fourth. However, she didn’t stop there and immediately set her sights on securing a podium position for the second consecutive year. Demonstrating exceptional descending skills, Niewiadoma distanced herself from her rivals during the descent, capitalising on the rivalry at play and ultimately giving the performance needed to make her one of the most successful riders at this year’s race.
Annemiek van Vleuten concedes to the next generation
While the evergreen Annemiek van Vleuten had celebrated victories in this year’s Vuelta Femenina and Giro Donne, the Tour de France Femmes presented a different challenge. The individual time trial around Pau proved to be an anticlimax for her, as she lost crucial time and her place on the podium. Despite the disappointment, van Vleuten remains a powerful and accomplished cyclist, and her competitive spirit will continue as she joins forces with Demi Vollering to represent the Netherlands in the World Road Championships in Glasgow.
The women’s peloton means business
The strength in depth of the women’s peloton was on full display throughout the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. Despite SD Worx’s dominance, the competition showcased the growing talent and competitive spirit among the riders. A total of 123 out of 154 cyclists contested the final time trial (compared to 109 of 144 in 2022), highlighting the commitment and determination of these athletes. The top five finishers were within a mere five minutes of each other, with ten riders finishing within 10 minutes of Vollering. This remarkable depth and quality of competition indicate the bright future we know is in store for women’s cycling.
As such, we wrap up the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift full of hope and excitement. It is also worth mentioning that, unlike the previous year, the focus of media coverage shifted from the breakthrough moment for women’s cycling to the sheer quality and excitement of the racing. The dedication and passion of the cyclists shone through, making this edition of the Tour de France Femmes a genuinely unforgettable spectacle.
General Classification Standings
- Demi Vollering (SD Worx): 25:17:35
- Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx): +3:03
- Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM): +3:03
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar): +3:59
- Juliet Labous (Team DSM-Firmenich): +4:48
Points Classification Leader
- Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx): 243 points
- Queen of the Mountains Leader
- Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM): 27 points
- Best Young Rider Classification Leader
- Cedrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit–WNT Pro Cycling): 25:30:02