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Tour de France Femmes

Tour de France Femmes: Demi Vollering ‘not strong enough yet’ to stay with Annemiek van Vleuten

The SD Worx rider was the only one to follow Annemiek van Vleuten's attack but paid the price later on.

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LE MARKSTEIN, France (VN) — “I’m dead,” Demi Vollering said as she slumped over her bike at the finish line in Le Markstein after stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

Vollering was the only rider that was able to hang onto an attack from Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) on the Petit Ballon. The SD Worx rider stuck with Van Vleuten over the top of the climb but then cracked on the subsequent ascent of the Col du Platzerwasel.

From there, it was a long way home for Vollering as she rode through the valley and up the final ascent of the Grand Ballon. By the time she crossed the line, she was 3:26 behind Van Vleuten.

Also read: Annemiek Van Vleuten takes stage 7 and yellow jersey with dominant solo ride

The effort it had taken to even stay that close to Van Vleuten had drained Vollering of all her reserves. She could hardly sit on the bike as she tried to catch her breath, only lifting her head up briefly to greet her partner and their dog.

“I’m so empty, I tried so hard. I’m just not strong enough yet,” she said to her soigneur before turning to talk to the media.

“I was hoping I could have hung on a little bit longer, but I couldn’t,” Vollering said. “When I saw her coming in front, I expected her to do something. I was prepared for it, and I hoped for Ashleigh [Moolman-Pasio] that she could stay with me a bit longer but unfortunately not.

“I knew when I was with Annemiek alone, I knew it would be a long day. I tried to focus on my breathing and not think about what was coming, just centimeter after centimeter I tried to hang on.”

Vollering stayed in Van Vleuten’s wheel longer than any other rider in the peloton but she cracked when the Movistar rider pushed the pace up a notch with just a kilometer of the Platzerwasel remaining.

“I knew that I needed to hang on as long as possible and trying to focus on my breathing and trying to focus on how good I was feeling. At one moment, she was setting this speed and I needed to stand up and my legs exploded completely. It was a bit too much,” Vollering said.

Vollering took the lead in the mountains classification despite losing out to Van Vleuten on the stage. She leads Van Vleuten by a single point in the competition going into the final stage.

Sitting behind the podium waiting to receive their respective jerseys, the pair was able to share a word about how the day had panned out.

“I said to her, it’s not normal what you did and she said I have so much more training experience and overall experience. Then she said to me, that will come to you so let’s hope,” she said.