Tour de France Femmes stage 3: Lorena Wiebes sprints to first victory of the race

Peloton catches Julie Van De Velde in the final kilometre as Belgian almost produces major upset

Clock16:27, Tuesday 25th July 2023
Lorena Wiebes: 'It’s a great start, we are really happy with this and we hope to continue in this way'

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Lorena Wiebes: 'It’s a great start, we are really happy with this and we hope to continue in this way'

After a nail-biting conclusion to stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, it was Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) who took advantage of the hard work by dsm-firmenich in the chase and an exquisite lead-out from teammate Lotte Kopecky to take the stage honours. Julie Van De Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) was denied a fairytale victory, as her lone breakaway came to an end inside the final kilometre.

Having attacked with 59km to ride, it was expected that Van De Velde’s lone move would end far in advance of the expected sprint finish, but the Belgian was determined to avoid going down without a fight. The peloton misjudged their chase and with the refusal of SD Worx to contribute to the chase until the very last minute, it looked as though Van De Velde might pull off the impossible.

Alas, with the determination of dsm-firmenich and the begrudged help of SD Worx inside the final 2km, the peloton rounded a heartbroken Van De Velde with 600m to ride, setting up a sprint showdown between Wiebes and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). An excellent lead-out from yellow jersey Kopecky saw her finish in third, whilst Wiebes pipped Vos to the stage victory.

“The breakaway was of course still gone with 1km to go, we took the corner well, all the time I stayed with Lotte and the plan was that she would go and deliver me good,” Wiebes said at the finish.

“That’s exactly what she did! I felt Marianne start the sprint on the right of me, and then I was able to catch her!”

The sprinters snuff out lone opportunists

The third stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift contained an intriguing parcours of 147.1km from Collonges-la-Rouge to Montignac-Lascaux. With five categorised climbs and 2,007m of elevation gain to contend with, it would be no straightforward afternoon in the saddle. Nonetheless, a bunch sprint was anticipated, but as ever in women’s cycling, the battle for the breakaway would be extensive.

Within minutes of the flag dropping, lots of riders had already shown their face as they vied to make it into the day’s move, but it was Kathrin Hammes (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) who would undertake a lone venture ahead of the peloton. Hammes soon built up a gap of two minutes over the next 20km, as Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ) made two ill-fated attempts to bridge across and Lucie Jounier (Team Coop - Hitec Products) was forced to abandon the race.

Sweeping up maximum Queen of the Mountains points over the first two categorised climbs of the day, Hammes had a lone pursuer in Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma), but the American was foiled by the peloton on two occasions and her luck would only worsen as the stage went on, suffering a crash later in the day. Hammes’ fun out front came to an end with 82km to ride, producing a flurry of attacks to produce the next move.

On the Côte des Andrieux, it was Julie Van De Velde (Fenix-Deceuninck) who saw her opportunity to attack and go in search of QoM points, with the Côte de Saint-Robert falling soon after. Taking full points over both climbs, Van De Velde ensured she would be in the polka-dot jersey on stage 4, but her ambitions did not rest there, with the Belgian rider pressing on alone and building an advantage of 2:20 with 28km to ride.

An unlikely victory for Van De Velde soon became a possibility, and after crashes for Labecki and Elena Cecchini (SD Worx), dsm-firmenich decided it was time to put the hammer down and control the peloton on behalf of their sprinter, Charlotte Kool. SD Worx briefly pressed on, but only to tee up Lorena Wiebes to take second place at the intermediate sprint, leaving Van De Velde’s gap at little over a minute with 20km to go.

The 30-year-old produced a remarkable ride, however, holding a 35-second gap from 13km to 3km to go. It was a nail-biting conclusion as the peloton realised that Van De Velde was on the brink of something special, prompting AG Insurance-Soudal QuickStep and SD Worx to finally commit riders to the chase.

Taking a nine-second gap into the final kilometre, Van De Velde sensed glory, but it was heartbreak for Fenix-Deceuninck and glory for SD Worx. A three-up sprint unfolded between Wiebes, Kopecky and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), with the former crossing the line in first having benefitted from what turned out to be the ultimate lead-out by teammate Kopecky.

The power of Wiebes was unstoppable once again, as the 24-year-old roared past ahead of Vos in the final 50m to add to the two stage victories she claimed at last year’s race. Vos was dispatched into second and Kopecky kept her yellow jersey, coming home in third.

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.

Race Results


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Team SD Worx

3H 49' 47"


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VOS Marianne

Team Jumbo-Visma



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Team SD Worx



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MANLY Alexandra

Team Jayco-AlUla



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KOOL Charlotte

Team dsm-firmenich



no flag


Uno-X Pro Cycling Team



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+ 2"


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Provided by FirstCycling

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