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Double stage winner and race leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) had expressed caution about talk that she might hold yellow on Saturday’s queen stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, and so it proved.
The Dutchwoman was dropped early on during the 127.1 kilometer course between Sélestat and Le Markstein, with the day’s three category one climbs seeing her lose time consistently as the kilometers ticked by.
She eventually crossed the line in a group 24:44 behind the solo winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team), slipping from first to 21st overall.
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“I didn’t feel that good today,” the 35-year-old said after the stage. “We rode full speed to the bottom of the first climb and from there, it was full throttle uphill. I tried to find my own pace and luckily my teammates guided me to the finish line. After the first climb, I enjoyed the crowd standing along the side.”
Vos has shone in the race, finishing second on the opening stage last Sunday in Paris, winning into Provins on day two, then placing second, fifth and third the following three days. She topped the podium again on Friday, decisively beating the others into Rosheim.
That gave her an aura of invincibility, but she and her team knew that there was a strong chance Saturday would be her final day in the maillot jaune.
“We knew this stage would be too hard for us,” said teammate Riejanne Markus, who placed 12th. “Our main goal was to win a stage and we did. We even won two and as a bonus, we got to ride in the yellow jersey for five days. We can conclude that our Tour was a success.”
Vos still has a prized jersey in the race, holding a commanding lead in the points classification. She will begin Sunday’s final stage in the maillot vert and with a total of 267 points, 103 more that her closest competitor Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx), looks set to win that competition on the race’s final stage to La Planche des Belles Filles.
She had started Saturday’s stage 76 points clear of Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), who withdrew from the Tour de France Femmes on stage 7.
With that competition win looking a certainty, and also considering her two stage wins, her other strong placings, and her extended tenure at the top, Vos’ time at the Tour de France Femmes has been an incredible success.
She referred to her experience as being an “incredibly beautiful week,” and one she will prize.
“It was extraordinary to be able to ride in yellow for five days, but I am also happy that I can ride in green for one more day.”