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Tour de France Femmes

Words of Winder: ‘This is cycling, beautiful suffering pain’

Suffering of all kinds was a theme during stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes

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Throughout the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, retired professional cyclist and former U.S. national champion Ruth Winder will be offering commentary and analysis to VeloNews readers.

Glorious suffering. This is cycling.

You see it on the faces of each rider. Annemiek van Vleuten and her undeniable pace. She is suffering, all she has to do is suffer the most she can possibly suffer and she knows she will win.

This is cycling, cycling is pain.

Demi Vollering just behind knows that her only option is to suffer with all she’s got. For a moment she gets to hope that it’ll be enough to stay with the pace of Van Vleuten. Regardless of if she can keep up she knows, like Van Vleuten, that her only option is to suffer. Focusing on only each moment, not allowing thoughts to drift to the past or future. Only in each moment, how much can she suffer.

This is cycling. Glorious, suffering pain

Elisa Longo Borghini, dropped by Van Vleuten and Vollering by minutes. Her story stays the same. Perhaps with a bit more passion and determination as we know she is pedaling with not just her legs but her heart and soul. Pushing forward with every passionate fiber she has for this beautifully painful sport that she loves.

This is cycling, fantastic suffering.

Behind, the story doesn’t change for our chasing group. Perhaps they have the distraction of each other from just their pure suffering. But they know that their one and only option in today’s game of bikes is to suffer with all and everything they have. Pushing each other to the limits of their abilities and one pedal stroke closer to the line. The thoughts of a podium enough to encourage them through the darkest moments.

Vos could be the only one out there getting to choose her level of suffering today. She has nothing to prove, she just needs to ride a good pace up the climb with her other lucky companions that know they did their work for their leaders. Their ride is not easy. They are tired, and while their suffering might not be at its highest, it is not entirely absent from their being.

This is cycling, cycling is pain.

How lucky we are to get to watch it.