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PARIS, France (VN) — On Sunday, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. brought the women’s peloton one step further in its march toward greater equality in the sport.
As we walked around the team zone, speaking with riders and team staff, one sentiment emerged: while this year’s Tour de France Femmes had yet to prove itself as the best bike race, it certainly would go down in history as a very important one.
Here are some snapshots from the first day of the race.
Men and women shared most race infrastructure on Sunday’s stage. Nevertheless, the Femmes signage lent a new perspective to the old race, and created a new visual in the foreground of ancient monuments.
When I asked SD Worx sport director Anna van der Breggen if she wished she was racing in the women’s Tour de France, she gave a vehement “No!” Out of sight out of mind, she told me.
“Sometimes when I sit in the car and I see what’s happening I think, “oh, I wish I was there and still good and could do something,” she said. “Those moments I have. But I know I don’t have the shape and I know I wouldn’t be anywhere. I’m totally for preparing the team before the race and that’s finished now. You go here differently. I cannot imagine riding now.”
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig’s Tour de France Lapierre Xelius SL.
The FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope’s fleet of bikes got new paint for the inaugural race; the colors and shapes are a nod to the team’s three title sponsors, while each of the race’s eight stages are marked by a number and the abbreviation of the departure and arrival towns.
The bike that nearly won the first stage — Marianne Vos’ Cervelo S5 with Reserve 52/63 wheels and a 12sp Dura-Ace group with 11spd crank.
Vos was outsprinted on Sunday by countrywoman Lorena Wiebes.
Rainbow brands and bananas: Annemiek van Vleuten was cool and calm at the start of the first stage. The Dutchwoman is heavily favored to win the race, although she has to wait until stages 7 and 8 to get to the mountains.
Colombian fans in Paris for Movistar’s Paula Patiño
Liv Racing-Xstra’s sport director Giorgia Bronzini said that the Tour de France Femmes is something to be celebrated, yet also should serve as a reminder of the various efforts that have come before.
“It’s a bit sad that sometimes people don’t know or don’t remember that the Tour was on for some years,” she said. “For sure, it’s something that we need to remember and be thankful for the organization. And the woman that participate and do the effort for us. We are at this point because of their effort.”
Lorena Wiebes became the first owner of the yellow jersey after winning the sprint in Paris on Sunday. The 23-year-old was greeted at the finish by elated parents, brother, aunt, and uncle.
She was given a podium squirrel, the stuffed toy that Zwift will award to each stage winner in the race.
In addition to holding the crédit Lyonnais lion, Wiebes also took a baby onto the podium — despite causing some confusion among the press and others, Wiebes clarified that the baby belonged to her good friend. The two had a bet that if Wiebes won the stage she’d bring the child onto the stage.
A historic day on the Champs-Élysées