31km to go: That climb, combined with the chasing group’s work, means that the breakaway have had their lead chopped to 4min 10sec. Up the road, Koster and Hammes battle for the QOM points.
33km to go: Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek) grits her teeth and leads the chase to Kopecky and Niewiadoma. Juliette Labous (DSM-Firmenich) is on her wheel. Marianne Vos (Jumbo–Visma) has dropped off the back of the peloton.
34km to go: Just like she did in the first stage, Kopecky has attacked on the ascent. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) immediately follows.
37km to go: I took this 6.5km climb, a cat-3 at an average gradient of 4.2% up Côte de Colombiès as my chance to run and make a cup of tea. Mission accomplished.
Now where are we? The breakaway are on the climb and have around 3km to the summit. Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx) has attacked from the chasing group and Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) has followed.
39km to go: Here are the results from that intermediate sprint earlier. It was uncontested by the breakaway but Kasper was first to cross the line.
Results of the intermediate sprint
1. Romy Kasper (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), 25pts
2. Lucinda Brand (Lidl-Trek), 20pts
3. Thalita De Jong (Liv Racing Teqfind), 17pts
4. Marthe Truyen (Fenix-Deceuninck), 15pts
5. Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), 13pts
6. Anouska Koster (Uno X), 11pts
7. Celia Le Mouel (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93), 10pts
8. Coryn Labecki (Jumbo Visma), 9pts
9. Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing Teqfind), 8pts
10. Alice Arzuffi (Ceratizit-WNT), 7pts
11. Sheyla Gutierrez (Movistar), 6pts
12. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health), 5pts
13. Christine Majerus (SD Worx), 4pts
14. Yara Kastelijn (Fenix-Deceuninck), 3pts
15. Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma), 2pts
43km to go: There is a birthday in the peloton today. Happy birthday Emma Norsgaard! Enjoy the climbing…
46km to go: Romy Kasper (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step) is the first to cross the line at the intermediate sprint. With SD Worx, Canyon-SRAM and UAE Team ADQ working to chase the breakaway, the gap has been reduced slightly to 9min.
57km to go: As the peloton passed through the waste zone, there was a touch of wheels and Julie De Wilde (Fenix-Deceuninck) took a small tumble. She seems unharmed though and is back on the bike.
Also, here’s a little taste of the fans on the roadside:
60km to go: Although the breakaway is pretty sizeable at 14 riders, they seem to be working well together and the gap of 10min remains stable. Behind them, the chasing group have Elizabeth Holden (UAE Team ADQ) pulling with Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx) and Cecchini. Sarah Roy (Canyon-SRAM) has also been chipping in.
67km to go: Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) and Wiebes are taking turns to drive the bunch. The breakaway group have a huge gap of 10min 11sec at the moment.
72km to go: If you missed it, Jeremy Whittle wrote a very interesting piece on the long road to pay parity for female cyclists. He writes:
“All three Grand Tours now have women’s versions but prize money still lags behind and smaller teams cannot compete.”
74km to go: According to the race radio, SD Worx are leading the chasing bunch now. They were criticised yesterday for not pulling their weight, leaving DSM-Firmenich to do the donkey work to chase down Van de Velde.
80km to go: The gap between the breakaway and the peloton stands at 9min and remains steady. At 40kmph, the average pace is remaining high.
89km to go: The breakaway have just hit the summit of the second categorised climb of today. Koster was first over so scoops up 2pts to put her in the lead for the QOM (she has 11pts overall). Van de Velde and Hammes follow with 9pts.
Results at Côte de Falgeyras
1. Anouska Koster (Uno-X), 2 pts
2. Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), 1 pt
97km to go: It’s under 100km now for the riders. I’ve been taking a look at which of the teams have riders in the breakaway group and which are not represented. As far as I can see (without any TV coverage…it’ll start at 2pm UK time), Canyon-SRAM don’t have anyone in the break. Although, SD Worx do have Majerus in the breakaway, I imagine they won’t want to lose the yellow jersey. Perhaps the peloton are hoping that the breakaway will split once they hit the climbs and lose speed.
101km to go: The breakaway group have almost 10min on the peloton but the second of the five categorised climbs of the day looms for the 14 riders out front. Elsewhere, Rachele Barbieri (Liv Racing Teqfind) and Anaïs Morichon (Arkea) have abandoned and are out of the Tour.
110km to go: The peloton are now trailing by almost nine minutes. Who is going to organise the chase? As it stands, there are five riders in the breakaway who would overtake Kopecky on the GC classification…if they manage to stay away.
117km to go: The 14 riders in the breakaway have 7min 45 sec on the peloton. As well as Cordon-Ragot, Labecki, Brand, Majerus and Koster, who I mentioned earlier, these are the other riders who make up that group: Sheyla Gutiérrez, Kathrin Hammes, Thalita De Jong, Jeanne Korevaar, Romy Kasper, Yara Kastelijn, Marthe Truyen, Célia Le Mouel and Alice Arzuffi.
The next climb is the category four Côte de Falgeyras, located 92km from the finish line. It’s 293m high, 3km in length, with an average gradient of 4% and will be upon the riders in about 22km.
124km to go: Elise Uijen (DSM-Firmenich) has abandoned. I’m not sure why, but just heard over the radio that she’s out. The breakaway have a good 7min on the peloton now and Cordon Ragot has become the virtual maillot jeune.
128km to go: Wow, that breakaway is putting in a good effort. The gap is now almost at 6min. I don’t have any TV coverage to consult yet so can’t see which teams, if any, are driving the bunch to catch this group of 14 riders. Once again, I’m listening to the race radio for the first part of today’s stage.
135km to go: The average speed has been rapid today: the attackers have covered 42.4km in the first hour of the stage. The gap to the peloton has increased to 4min.
137km to go: If, like me, you were confused by Moolman-Pasio – who is third placed in the points classification – wearing the green jersey today, here is a handy explainer from official website of the Tour as to why that is:
“Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) leads the points standings (125 pts) but she wears the Maillot Jaune. Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) is 2nd (100 pts) but her European champion jersey prevails. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), 3rd in the standings (79 pts), thus wears the green jersey today.”
Well, there we go.
140km to go: Here’s a look at who is in that 14-person breakaway. The gap is now up to 3min to the peloton. They have a long stretch of flat before hitting a category-four climb at 84.9km.
145km to go: A strong breakaway group, including the likes of Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health), Lucinda Brand (Lidl-Trek), Christine Majerus (SD Worx), Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma) and Koster have been caught by the chasing group. The front group has grown to about 14 riders as a result. They have a decent 1min 40sec gap now and it’s increasing.
157km to go: Koster did fancy the QOM points – she’s bagged herself two. Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) takes 1pt on the Col de Crayssac. A group of 14 riders have attacked and have 10sec on the bunch. The peloton follows behind with a 15sec gap.
160km to go: Blimey, the peloton aren’t holding back. They’ve set off at a rapid pace even though it’s a long day ahead for them. Christie has been caught on the Col de Crayssac and the counter-attacks are coming in thick and fast. According to the race radio, there is a group of about 10 riders with a small gap to the bunch.
163km to go: Henrietta Christie (Human Powered Health) is off the front and has a 10sec gap as she heads up the first climb of the day, the Col de Crayssac (2.3km at 4.8%). Anouska Koster (Uno-X) has started chasing. Is she after the QOM points?
166km to go: Lotte Kopecky remains in the maillot jeune, while Julia van de Velde is in the polka-dot jersey. She was denied the stage three win by Lorena Wiebes, but she bagged herself a jersey with a fantastic effort.
Yellow: Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) 11hr 07min 19sec
Green: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Soudal-Quickstep)
Polka-dot: Julie Van de Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck)
White: Cedrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT)
167km to go: Ahead of today’s stage, this is how the GC ranking looked:
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) 7hr 17min 36sec
Liane Lippert (Movistar) +49sec
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Soudal-Quickstep) +59sec
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) + 59sec
Cecile Ludwig (FDJ-Suez) +59sec
Tamara Dronova (Israel Premier Tech Roland) +59sec
Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) +59sec
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) +59sec
Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram) +59sec
Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Jayco ALUla) +1min 03sec
170km to go: While the riders settle in for a long day in the saddle, let’s catch up on yesterday’s stage and who is wearing what jersey. My colleague, Jeremy Whittle wrote this stage two report:
Lotte Kopecky, of Team SD Worx, retained the overall lead in the Tour de France Femmes, after her teammate Lorena Wiebes sprinted to victory in stage three from Collonges-la-Rouge to Montignac-Lascaux in the Dordogne.
Wiebes, winner of two stages in last year’s race, took her third success in the Tour after a last-gasp chase reeled in the day’s solo breakaway, Julie Van de Velde, of the Fenix-Deceuninck team.
177km to go: Welcome to the longest stage of the eight-day Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2023. The 146 riders are off! Here’s a start line selfie to kick off what is going to be a pretty brutal day…
After yesterday’s flat stage (advertised as such officially but actually had five categorised climbs en route), today’s stage is a very hilly one. The 177.5km route begins in the picturesque town of Cahors – home to the Unesco world heritage site-classified Valentré Bridge – and ends in Rodez, taking in five categorised climbs on the way.
Stage three was one for the sprinters, but today’s parcours is quite different: there are a multitude of tough climbs in the Massif Central and it’s the longest stage the riders will face in this year’s Tour de France Femmes. It could be a pivotal day for the GC contenders.