RONCHAMP, France (VN) – According to a booklet that the ASO gave all media before the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the origin story of the name Planche de Belles Filles is a sad one.
“Legend attributes the name of this mountain resort to the collective suicide of dozens of young girls during the Thirty Years’ War (17th century) as they sought to escape from Swedish mercenaries.”
33 years without a Tour de France for women may pale in comparison to the above, but it hasn’t been great for morale either. And if we learned anything over the past week at the race, it was that everyone — the riders, the fans, the media — had simply been waiting, ready to spring into action when the race was reborn.
The final day of the Tour de France Femmes culminated on the iconic Super Planche des Belles Filles, a summit used multiple times in the men’s race. As with every stage of the Femmes race, fans came out in masse to witness the day; perhaps there were even more picnics with more rosé because the race ended on a Sunday.
While the work truly never ends for the media covering the Tour de France, I made sure to wander among the crowds on the final day, soaking up the sights, stocking up on freebie yellow and polka dot souvenirs, and celebrating the monumental week.
Before, it was just endless tags of Thibaut, Thibaut, Thibaut.
Now, there’s new graffiti on the climb.
Hundreds of people took advantage of the closed roads to ride bikes to the finish line.
Danish rider Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig had plenty of fans all week but especially on La Super Planche de Belle Cille.
Card games were a common way to pass the time before the race came by.
As was hiding from the high altitude sunshine.
So many kids on bikes!
And many fans of hometown favorite Evita Muzic.
And Kasia Niewiadoma.
Rosé all day.
The 500m hike up to the Super Planche is on a steep red ski run (North Americans: that’s the difficulty between blue and black)
A lazy banana snoozing before the stage.
Tractor seating, some of the best in the house.
Polka dot crochet!
More Super Planche super fans.
The final meters to the finish.
The E.Leclerc polka dot people got mobbed daily as they handed out the ubiquitous free t-shirts and cycling caps.
Steep working conditions.
This drum ensemble was dynamite!
We sure do.