Urška Žigart came to the Tour de France Femmes to climb, and climb she did
The Slovenian rider had a breakout day in the mountains during stage 7
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LE MARKSTEIN, France (VN) — Urška Žigart came to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift for the mountains.
The Slovenian rider, who yesterday announced a two-year contract extension with Team BikeExchange-Jayco, is known for her climbing prowess, but rarely gets a chance to put it on display.
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“We have climbing races, but we don’t get a lot of longer climbs in our calendar, so that was a big motivation to show today what I can do,” she said after stage 7.
The Slovenian time trial champ finished the stage with what is likely a career highlight: eighth on the day.
Žigart spent the majority of the day tucked into a sextet consisting of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Evita Muzic, Silvia Persico, Juliette Labous, and Kasia Niewiadoma. The group chugged steadily up the stage’s three massive climbs together, eventually catching Elisa Longo Borghini who was solo for a good part of the day.
Žigart said that it wasn’t necessarily the team’s plan for the day, but with fellow climber Kristen Faulkner not feeling great, she was able to take advantage of her climbing legs. In the process, the 25-year-old showed what she’s capable of.
“Mostly we wanted to maybe have me in the break, but then we saw that that break was really short lasting,” she said. “It was unfortunate that Kristen [Faulkner] was not feeling the best, but that meant that I could sit up a little bit in that group in front. We thought that it would regroup a little bit and then I could work for Kristen, but in the end the groups stayed as they were. I was just happy to make it to the finish honestly in the end.”
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Žigart’s week at the Tour de France Femmes shows that, while having arrived somewhat later to pro cycling than other women in the peloton, she’s right where she belongs.
Although Žigart has long been candid about her lack of confidence riding in the bunch, Saturday should provide confirmation that she’s making serious strides.
“That’s one of my main struggles, just positioning in the peloton,” she said. “I don’t feel comfortable. So I need to keep working on that, because I showed today that I could be up there, but nobody can win from last place.
“I need to keep working on that, but today is a good motivation that I’m on the right track. Maybe I also need a bit more confidence, a bit more aggressiveness in the peloton, but I was happy to be there today.
“Every race is always a new experience. I was working with a skills coach this year for descending and that’s improved a little bit. If I go on my own or in small groups I’m not suffering so much, but if the real big specialists are to push it, then yeah. I still need to practice and that’s something to work on in the off-season. I’m motivated.”