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FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope crowned a “perfect day” on home soil with victory and third place at the inaugural women’s Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge.
Rising star Marta Cavalli claimed her third victory of the year, destroying the competition after attacking with around 2.5 kilometers to the line. In short order, she built up a commanding lead over an elite chasing group to win by a massive 41 seconds.
The one-day race up the iconic Ventoux climb was Cavalli’s first race since crashing out of the Vuelta a Burgos at the end of May. There were no signs of any lingering injury from the incident as she romped up the ascent.
“We had prepared this race well and I had the opportunity to study it several times, especially with the passages of the Tour de France,” Cavalli said after her win. “I was in training last week, but I was already thinking about today’s race and my head was already in Mont Ventoux. I would really like to thank the organization that allowed us to do a race like this.”
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After launching the race in 2019, this year was the first time that a women’s event was organized and it is only the second time since a stage of the 2016 Tour de l’Ardèche that the pro women’s peloton has raced up Mont Ventoux.
As one of the stars of the early part of the season, Cavalli was one of the overwhelming favorites for glory in Provence on Tuesday. Her win will be a warning shot to rivals ahead of the Giro d’Italia Donne later this month.
“I think that today we did a very good job with the team. We controlled all the climbs, we were always in front and we had planned the last kilometers. If I felt good, I could attack, and that’s what I did,” she said. “The last kilometers seemed quite long to me because we were still at high altitude, but I felt good, and I found the good feelings I had had in the mountain course. I am very happy with this victory, and I am very happy to offer the team another first place.”
The team’s good day got even better with a third-place finish from French champion Evita Muzic, who finished 12 seconds behind Cofidis’ Clara Koppenburg in second.
Muzic had a slow start to the 2022 season as she continued to recover from a knee injury she suffered in a high-speed crash at the Women’s Tour last October. However, her form has been growing in recent weeks and she finished second overall at the Vuelta a Burgos — taking the youth classification in the process — and recently won the Alpes Gresivaudan Classic one-day race.
“It was a bit of a perfect day today for the team, with a victory, a podium, and collective work throughout the race. I think we had a perfect team race,” Muzic said. “We are more used to running without radios, but I think we communicated well together. We didn’t panic, we had a girl in the breakaway (Jade Wiel) it was perfect, then the girls rode as hard as they could all the way up, doing a perfect job to put Marta in the best place.
“I knew very well that she was the best in the race, and I had enormous confidence in her to go for the win. Once she attacked, it was every man for himself. I preferred to manage my climb because in the surges I still have a little trouble. I am happy with this performance, and to be able to finish on the podium with my blue, white, and red jersey, which I will soon be putting back into play in the French championships.”