Heartbreak for Julie Van De Velde at Tour de France Femmes

Belgian caught 300m from the line after strong solo effort

Clock17:55, Tuesday 25th July 2023
Julie Van De Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) solo off the front on stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Julie Van De Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) solo off the front on stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes

It was heartbreak in the finale for Julie Van De Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck), who was caught within 300m of the finish line on stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, painfully close to the win after a long solo effort.

Stage favourite Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) took the win in Montignac-Lascaux, after a last-minute effort from SD Worx finally pulled back the lone leader.

Van De Velde had attacked with 60km to go, ostensibly to pick up Queen of the Mountains points, but she soon built up a healthy lead and her ride became a serious fight for the win when she went into the final 10km with still more than 30 seconds’ advantage.

“I heard my teammates were doing really good work trying to block the speed in the bunch, and I heard the time gap was growing again so I tried to believe in it,” the Belgian said after the stage.

For a long time, thanks to the combination of Fenix-Deceuninck blocking the chase and dsm-firmenich making little inroads as SD Worx initially refused to work, it looked as if Van De Velde might stay away.

However, in the final 2km, SD Worx finally began to contribute to the chase, and as the line drew closer the gap started falling rapidly. It was still touch-and-go with a kilometre to go, but going into the final 500 it was clear the peloton was coming with a speed that the 30-year-old could not hold off.

“I tried to not look back and just go full gas, but unfortunately I saw everyone passing me in the last few hundred metres,” she said.

Van De Velde was rewarded, however, with the polka dot jersey that had been her aim when she attacked. She took it over from teammate Yara Kastelijn, out-scoring early escapee Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) to keep a Fenix-Deceuninck rider in the lead.

“It was Yara or me who could take the jersey, but it had to stay in the team,” she explained at the finish.

Despite what viewers would perceive as last-minute heartbreak, Van De Velde cut a positive figure after the stage, happy with what the team had succeeded in rather than lamenting what they did not.

“I didn’t imagine this was possible before the Tour so it’s really a great achievement from the whole team,” she said.

Going into the next few days, the polka-dot jersey remains a focus for Fenix-Deceuninck, but Van De Velde’s performance on Tuesday should also give her some confidence for the stages to come.

“I hope we can try to [keep the jersey]. I hope to recover good because it was a hard final for me but maybe tomorrow Yara can also take the jersey back, as long as it stays in the team it’s really great for us.”

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all eight stages of this year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift from Sunday, July 23 to Sunday, July 30. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action! As always, territory restrictions will apply.

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