The EF Education-TIBCO-SVB rider lost some valuable time in the early stages of the race due to some misfortune but has been climbing up the overall standings as the race hit the mountains.
Ewers started the final stage from Lure to Super Planche des Belles Filles in 11th place needing to make up just 18 seconds to move into the top 10. She did more than enough in the end, climbing two places to finish ninth overall.
“I’m really pretty happy. I gave it my absolute all at the end. I really wanted to be aggressive, but I gave it everything I had and I’m pretty pleased to make it a top 10 for the first Tour de France Femmes,” Ewers told VeloNews after descending back down the final kilometer to her team bus.
“Personally, I’m really proud to be able to acknowledge how I was able to improve even through this race. Knowing how terrified I was in the group on stage 1 and then feeling much more comfortable by the end of it, since I’m still learning how to navigate the peloton.”
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As has been the case throughout the whole eight days of the race, huge crowds lined the roadside to cheer on the riders, with thousands flocking to Planche des Belles Filles to watch the finale.
It is not just roadside crowds that have been out in force and there has been a large amount of support coming through in the form of TV viewership. Even Ewers’ hometown of Moscow, Idaho has been cheering her on from the other side of the world.
“I really can’t express how overwhelming and exciting it is to see how many people are out supporting us, and partying on the mountains. It is apparent that people have been there for hours waiting for us to come through, just as they have been for the men,” she said.
“My hometown of Moscow, Idaho has a theater downtown that my aunt had them put “Go VK Ewers” on the billboard of the theater. I’m so overwhelmed. I absolutely love my hometown and the support that they have shown me. Cycling was never a huge thing there and it’s totally proof that this has brought more people to cycling in general. I think we’ll see more people get involved in cycling and spectating as well.”
A former soccer player, Ewers has been keeping a keen interest on the women’s European soccer championship. The final of the soccer competition has coincided with the last day of the Tour de France Femmes and Ewers believes they have both been a showcase of women’s sport.
“It’s really cool that it has somehow corresponded with the soccer European cup. It has been a month of women bad assery,” Ewers said.
Hanging on with the best
Ewers arrived at the Tour de France Femmes on a run of good form that had seen her take her first two professional victories. The 27-year-old American, who only competed in her first pro races at the end of 2021, was still gaining experience in the bunch and had little expectation of what she might be able to do.
“I was mostly really hoping to give it my all and do my best and see how I’d fare among the top women in the world. I’m really overwhelmed by the experience and I’m really fortunate to have this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to the next one,” Ewers said.
After being distanced by the likes of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Juliette Labous the previous day, Ewers dug deep to keep them within her sights as the race headed up the Planche des Belles Filles.
With the help of her teammate Krista Doebel-Hickock, Ewers was able to stay on the tail of the group that had formed behind the attacking Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering, eventually finishing seventh on the stage at 2:13 behind Van Vleuten.
“Every time I tried to hang on, I was just dangling for a lot of it. I would catch up, then drop back and dangle again. By the end there, I just kept telling myself to keep pace before absolutely blowing up,” she said. “I knew what was coming and I just wanted to be able to turn the pedals at the finish even though I felt like I was about to fall over in the last 50 meters. It was a very long last 50 meters.
“There’s a little bit of gravel or dirt on the road so you can’t really stand up and if you do your legs are cramping. It’s absolutely brutal. It’s a really cool experience. I’ve never pushed myself to that limit before so it’s really amazing to see what our bodies can do.”