Tour de France Femmes stage 7: Demi Vollering triumphs atop the Tourmalet

Dutchwoman takes yellow jersey and a huge lead into final-day time trial

Clock16:32, Saturday 29th July 2023
Demi Vollering wins stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes

© Velo Collection / Getty Images

Demi Vollering wins stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes

Demi Vollering (SD Worx) soared into the yellow jersey on stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift after a comprehensive stage victory on the Col du Tourmalet.

The Dutch rider broke free of the GC group with 5.6km to go on the legendary climb, dropping her main rivals before catching and passing a gutsy Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), who had been leading the race since the descent of the Col d’Aspin.

Once alone and at the head of the race, Vollering pushed through the mountain mist and, with only the headlights from the following cars guiding her between a sea of fans, demolished her opposition on the 17.1km climb to take arguably the most illustrious win of her career.

Niewiadoma hung on for a well-deserved second place at 1:58, with the defending Tour champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) finishing a distant third at 2:34. Overnight race leader Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) put in the most surprising ride of the day to finish sixth on the stage at 3:22 down on her teammate.

With one stage, remaining Vollering is on course to win her first Grand Tour and end Van Vleuten’s run of five straight Grand Tour titles since the start of 2022. Ahead of the individual time trial on stage 8, Vollering leads Niewiadoma by 1:50, with van Vleuten at 2:28.

On a hugely memorable day of racing, Vollering was unquestionably the strongest rider in the race. She matched Van Vleuten when the Movistar leader attacked on the first major climb of the day, the Col d’Aspin. The SD Worx all-rounder was reluctant to work with her arch rival, and it was Niewiadoma who seized the moment to join the pair on the climb before breaking free on the long and technical descent.

The Polish rider had a minute on the chase group ahead of the dreaded Tourmalet, and even when SD Worx managed to reduce the gap to just a handful of seconds, Niewiadoma kept her momentum on the lower slopes of the climb. With Vollering and van Vleuten back within a group of GC contenders at the start of the climb, it looked as though the race would be determined by a major battle between the two riders but it was Juliette Labous (Team dsm-firmenich) who put in four attacks as the lead group thinned out to Vollering, Van Vleuten, Ashleigh Moolman (AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step), Kopecky, Ane Santesteban (Team Jayco AlUla), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ - SUEZ), Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ), and Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek). 

The group was thinned out thanks to Labous’ constant accelerations but with 5.6km to go, Vollering made her move. Only van Vleuten was able to match the attack but within a few pedal strokes it was clear that the SD Worx rider was a cut above the opposition. When Van Vleuten cracked, Vollering surged clear, never looking back and quickly reeling in Niewiadoma before soloing to the win and the yellow jersey. 

Tensions rise on epic day of racing

After six exhilarating days of racing at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the mountains arrived, with what promised to be a legendary day of racing. As expected, a flurry of attacks occupied the opening kilometres as riders looked to anticipate moves ahead of the two major climbs. A crash for Liane Lippert (Movistar Team) with 81km to go held up a number of riders but several moves were made at the front of the race with Lizzie Deigan (Lidl-Trek) among those trying to break free.

Coralie Demay (St Micherl-Mavic-Auber93) established the first clear break of the day with Quinty Ton (Liv Racing-TeqFind) attempting to chase. A large group formed off the front of the peloton with just under 70km to go but when that escape was nullified Susanne Andersen (Uno-X) and Margot Pompanon (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) kicked clear.

The leading pair struggled to establish a minute over the peloton and with the Col d’Aspin looming the battle for position quickly brought the break back into view with Canyon and DSM both setting the pace for their respective leaders.

At the foot of the climb, the catch was made and instantly riders began to drift back as Movistar set a blistering pace. Audrey Cordon Ragot was among those to lose contact on the lower slopes as Van Vleuten’s team burnt through their domestiques. Paula Patiño set a furious pace for the defending champion before Lippert assumed control of the vastly reduced bunch.

With 5km to the top, Van Vleuten took charge, powering up the steep slopes with only Vollering and Niewiadoma willing or able to match her speed as last year’s podium began to stamp their authority over the race.

A chase group containing Reusser, Moolman, Pasio, Spratt, Uttrup Ludwig, Cavalli, Santesteban and Kopecky soon formed as up ahead Vollering refused to work, with her teammate and yellow jersey neatly tucked into the second group on the road. Niewiadoma picked up maximum points at the summit of the climb, with the leading trio 51 seconds clear of the chase.

However, on the descent the cat and mouse between Vollering and Van Vleuten became so detrimental to the leaders’ pace that the pair stopped riding, allowing for Niewiadoma to use her unrivalled descending skills to quickly build a lead. With 22km to go and the descent complete, Niewiadoma had 45-second gap on the chasers as Vollering and Van Vleuten were quickly swallowed up.

With light rain beginning to fall, Niewiadoma had no option but to press on as she hit the lower slopes of the climb and, even with Reusser setting a hard tempo at the head of the yellow jersey group, the Canyon-SRAM rider remained out front as the GC rivals began to watch each other. Spratt was the first rider to lose contact from the yellow jersey group but when Reusser finished her long turn Niewiadoma managed to build her lead back out to over 40 seconds.

Labous put in her first attack with 8.9km to go, with Santesteban and Uttrup Ludwig both distanced as a result. Only Labous, Van Vleuten, Vollering, Kopecky and Moolman Pasio remained in the yellow jersey group as Labous set about making three more short attacks. Her final acceleration came with 5.9km to go and it merely acted as the precursor for Vollering, who hit the front 5.6km with the race’s most decisive move.

Almost immediately the group splintered on the climb with the yellow jersey forced to ride at her own tempo and Van Vleuten left in the fog as Vollering established her complete dominance over the stage and this year’s race.

Race Results

1

nl flag

VOLLERING Demi

Team SD Worx

2H 52' 43"

2

pl flag

NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna

CANYON//SRAM Racing

+ 1' 58"

3

nl flag

VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek

Movistar Team

+ 2' 34"

4

za flag

MOOLMAN-PASIO Ashleigh

AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step Team

+ 2' 43"

5

fr flag

LABOUS Juliette

Team dsm-firmenich

+ 2' 46"

6

be flag

KOPECKY Lotte

Team SD Worx

+ 3' 32"

7

es flag

SANTESTEBAN Ane

Team Jayco-AlUla

+ 5' 24"

8

it flag

CAVALLI Marta

FDJ-SUEZ

+ 5' 43"

9

dk flag

LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup

FDJ-SUEZ

+ 5' 46"

10

de flag

BAUERNFEIND Ricarda

CANYON//SRAM Racing

+ 6' 57"

Provided by FirstCycling

Major Races

See All

29 Jun - 21 Jul

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Tour de France

2.UWT

12 Aug - 18 Aug

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Tour de France Femmes

2.WWT

4 May - 26 May

it flag

Giro d'Italia

2.UWT

2 Jun - 9 Jun

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Critérium du Dauphiné

2.UWT

Provided by FirstCycling

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