1. Demi Vollering (SD Worx)
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Soudal-Quickstep)
5. Juliette Labous (DSM–Firmenich)
Niewiadoma speaks…she’s sat on the floor trying to catch her breath and say’s she’s so happy that all the work she did in her training camp has paid off. Vollering interrupts to shake her hand and call her “super strong”. “You too girl,” she replies.
“I saw how they [Vollering and van Vleuten] were competing with each other, so in Polish we have this saying that ‘if the two are fighting, the third one is winning’. So, I was hoping [for] them to get involved with themselves and to look for my own opportunity. The pity was the group behind got back. I just didn’t want to go back to the group, I knew that I preferred to keep my own pace and that I feel mentally stronger when I’m on my own.”
Vollering raises her arms as she crosses the line and takes the stage win. She’s not only truimphant on the iconic Tourmalet, but she’s also taken the maillot jaune from her teammate, Kopecky. Remember, she also had a 20sec penalty earlier this week.
300m to go: Niewiadoma is 1min 20 sec behind Vollering. The SD Worx rider gets out of the saddle for one final push towards the finish line.
1km to go: Vollering is either grimacing or smiling. The Tourmalet is tough but look at the support out there. It looks like a great atmosphere … from what you can see through the fog. She passes through the flamme rouge …
2km to go: There’s a clip of Vollering’s attack, if you want to examine it in more detail/see it again.
3km to go: Vollering has a 1min 40sec gap to the yellow jersey group. Niewiadoma is about 40sec behind Vollering and is grimacing as she pushes again and again. You can see the pain on van Vleuten’s face as the crowds cheer her on.
4km to go: Well, it was Vollering who moved first…she’s attacked and caught Niewiadoma. The Polish rider can’t hang on and Vollering goes solo.
5km to go: Is van Vleuten going to attack? Vollering seems to be waiting for her to go, but what if she doesn’t? Can Niewiadoma hold on? These are the questions going through my mind. The visibility on the Tourmalet is quite bad, isn’t it?
6km to go: It’s a big effort by Newiadoma but she’s still looking good as the gradient ramps up. Behind, Labous is getting impatient and trying to push the pace. I can see the mist that Lloyd and Stephens were talking about now as the riders ascend further up the mountain.
9km to go: Niewiadoma has pushed the gap and now has 32sec on the chasers. Come on Kasia. This is impressive … keep it going!
10km to go: Manon Lloyd is reporting from the Tourmalet. She’s at 6km to the summit and says it’s very misty. Although it’s 17C where she is, Lloyd says it feels much colder. It was 24C at the bottom of the climb, she says. Stephens reports that visibility on the line is 30 metres due to thick fog.
11km to go: Matt Stephens says there’s a tailwind on the Tourmalet today. Niewiadoma has a 9sec gap but van Vleuten and Vollering are joined by Reusser, Kopecky, Moolman Pasio, Labous, Uttrup Ludwig and Santesteban.
13km to go: Ooh, this is interesting…Eurosport have dug out an interview in which Niewiadoma spoke about using van Vleuten and Vollering’s focus on each other to make a move. Well, she did exactly that.
14km to go: Jumbo-Visma have announced that Marianne Vos has abandoned the Tour on the Col d’Aspin. According to their statement, Vos isn’t feeling the best and wants to recover for the upcoming world championships.
15km to go: We’re getting to the business end of this stage. This is a pivotal moment for Niewiadoma. Here’s a look at what she’s got to tackle:
16km to go: Niewiadoma is 45sec away from Vollering and van Vleuten. Reusser is setting the pace in the chase group but they are trailing by 1min 05sec. The Tourmalet is looming.
20km to go: Both Peters will be happy with this turn of events: Niewiadoma is now the virtual yellow jersey wearer. The commentary have just called van Vlueten and Vollering’s lack of a reaction to Niewiadoma’s move as “like a standoff in the street in a western.” That’s not a bad way of putting it …
22km to go: This could be dangerous for van Vleuten and Vollering. They’ve given Niewiadoma a bit too much room and the Canyon-SRAM rider has carved out a 26sec lead.
25km to go: Niewiadoma is shooting down the descent as Vollering and van Vleuten follow with a sizeable gap. John was watching the climb up the Col d’Aspin with interest. He writes in to ask if that was “van Vleuten’s best effort?” He some more thoughts to share: “At the moment, Vollering in particular seems to be allowing van Vleuten to tire herself into the headwind. Of course, as I write that, Niewiadoma goes to the front – which seems a bit odd.”
29km to go: Niewiadoma is first to cross the summit and bags 10 QOM points. Van Vleuten and Vollering take 8pts and 6pts, respectively. The trio are going to start the descent now.
31km to go: Niewiadoma is taking turns with Van Vleuten but Vollering doesn’t fancy chipping in. Vollering is the only one with a teammate in the chasing group. Kopecky is also there with Moolman Pasio, Reusser, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez), Ane Santesteban (Jayco Alula) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez).
32km to go: The trio of van Vleuten, Vollering and Niewiadoma – all on the final podium in last year’s Tour – are stretching their gap. Labous is driving the chase, with Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance–Soudal–Quick-Step) and Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) on her wheel.
34km to go: Lippert has finished her turn and it’s over to van Vleuten who attacks. She’s got a small gap and has Niewiadoma and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) on her wheel.
35km to go: Lippert may have crashed earlier, but she’s up front on the climb now. There are about 25 riders in the leading group as we drop to under 6km of ascent left. The peloton has become really strung out and Kastelijn has been dropped.
36km to go: Another Peter has emailed in and also (like our earlier Peter) would like Niewiadoma to be victorious. He writes: “would be good to see Niewiadoma win. I’m sure she’ll be up there but hard to see past AVV for the stage and the GC.”
38km to go: The bidons are off…the riders are climbing and will be for a little while. This is a long one and they want to carry as little weight as possible. Below, is a look at the climb profile. Just another 8.5km of climbing until the top of the Col d’Aspin…
41km to go: The breakaway has been caught as the riders begin the climb up the 12km Col d’Aspin. It has an average gradient of 6.5% and a summit at 1,490m.
46km to go: Pompanon is the first across the line and takes 20pts in the intermediate sprint. It was a nice try from Poidevin to get across to the leading duo but she’s been caught by the peloton. In other news, the youngest rider in the Tour, Babette van der Wolf (Lifeplus Wahoo) has abandoned.
49km to go: There’s an intermediate sprint coming up soon. Andersen and Pompanon have increased their gap on the peloton to around 50sec. Poidevin is still trying to get over to the pair and trails by 20sec.
51km to go: Juliette Labous (DSM–Firmenich) spoke to Eurosport ahead of today’s stage. She thinks the big climbs combined with potential thunderstorms will make it “very special”. It would definitely make for a dramatic stage, in many ways!
56km to go: Margot Pompanon (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) and Susanne Andersen (Uno-X) have attacked and opened up a gap of 25sec. Sara Poidevin (EF Education-Tibco-SVB is trying to bridge across and is about 5secs behind the leaders.
62km to go: Demay has been caught and it looks like the peloton are all back together … for now. Over on Eurosport, Iris Slappendel is concerned about the dark clouds forming. She thinks rain is on the way. Also, Peter has emailed in and is the first to share his prediction for today’s stage win. He writes: “I think I’ll be cheering on Kasia Niewiadoma for the stage win today. Whoever gets it, I’m sure it’ll be dramatic!” He asks who’s my favourite but I couldn’t possibly say…aka I haven’t decided yet.
65km to go: Lucinda Brand (Lidl Trek), Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), Floortje Mackaij, Sheyla Gutierrez (Movistar) and Julie De Wilde (Fenix-Deceuninck) are among the riders to join Ton. Demay’s is about to get caught…
68km to go: After attacking solo Coralie Demay (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) has managed to get a 37sec gap from the bunch. Quinty Ton (Liv Racing Teqfind) has decided to go try and get across, while a group of 14 riders are in hot pursuit.
There were a number of non-starters this morning, including two of Lidl-Trek’s big names: Elisa Longo Borghini and Elisa Balsamo. Longo Borghini is out due to a skin infection that has required hospital treatment. Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ), Maria Confalonieri (Uno-X) and Ewers have also abandoned.
74km to go: There’s been quite a few attacks already but none of them have managed to stick yet. Lizzie Deignan (Lidl Trek) looks keen to create a breakaway, as does Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT).
78km to go: Who will triumph today? Let me know your predictions. You can get in touch via email or by tweeting me.
80km to go: Eight placed in the GC, Liane Lippert is down. She gets up gingerly, is checked over by her team and gets back on her bike. The TV coverage now shows her trying to get back to the bunch and being seen to by the doctor as she cycles along.
81km to go: After suffering a nasty crash yesterday, Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) has not started today due to a broken collarbone. Amazingly, Ewers rode around 50km after the crash to finish stage six. Ouch…
86km to go: The riders have started off at very fast pace. As soon as the flag dropped, Julie De Wilde (Fenix-Deceuninck) attacked and was followed by Alice Barnes (Human Powered Health) before being swiftly brought back by the bunch. Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT) has also had a go but no one is getting away at the moment.
89km to go: Both Kopecky and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) had mechanicals during the neutralised start but were sorted out by their mechanics and got back in the bunch. The flag has dropped and the riders are off…
The riders are rolling out and will have a 5km neutralised start.
Marion Rousse on stage seven: “This is the queen stage of this second edition,” says the race director in a Tour video briefing. “We’ll start in Lannemezan and finish at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet. Before that, though, there’s the Col d’Aspin. It’s a really tough stage, very short, 90km, very intense. At the top of the Col du Tourmalet, we’ll pass through La Mongie … Obviously, this long 17km at an average gradient of 7.5% is going to do some damage. This will really be the decisive stage for the overall ranking, with all the big female climbers looking forward to battling it out on the slopes of the famous Col du Tourmalet.”
Yellow: Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) 21hr 54min 30sec
Green: Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) 201pts
Polka-dot: Yara Kastelijn (Fenix–Deceuninck) 23pts
White: Cedrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT)
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) 21hr 54min 30sec
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Soudal-Quickstep) +53sec
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) +55sec
Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) +55sec
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) +55sec
Yara Kastelijn (Fenix–Deceuninck) +1min 04sec
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) +1min 07sec
Liane Lippert (Movistar) +1min 29sec
Ricarda Bauernfeind (Canyon-SRAM) +1min 42sec
Juliette Labous (DSM–Firmenich) +1min 52sec
Stage six report: Emma Norsgaard won stage six of the Tour de France Femmes after a three rider breakaway, also containing Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka and Sandra Alonso, held off the pursuing peloton in what was the final chance for the sprinters in this year’s race.
As my friend put it this morning: happy Tourmalet day! Today is the big one, the climb we’ve all been waiting to see the riders tackle … it’s the savage Col du Tourmalet. A favourite since it was introduced in the Tour de France in 1910, today marks the first time it’s been included in the Tour de France Femmes (yes, I know it’s only the second edition but don’t spoil the fun). Saturday’s stage may only be 89.8km, but it’s set to split the peloton apart.
The penultimate stage will be a decisive day for the maillot jaune and a day the for the climbers. SD Worx’s Lotte Kopecky has been in the yellow jersey every day since her stage one victory, but will today mark the end of that? Although, stage seven will begin with a relatively gentle and rolling terrain, the riders will then face the Col d’Aspin before the 17km haul to the 2,110 metre summit of the legendary Tourmalet.
Speaking about the inclusion of the high mountains in this year’s Tour de France Femmes, race director, Marion Rousse, said that it was in a bid to make the event “a little bit more historical.” She added: “The Tourmalet is a mythical climb and all the champions want to write their names into the record books by winning there.” It’s going to be a big day, so settle in and join me as we follow the riders on their ride in the Pyrenees.
Stage start time: 3.15pm UK time