As expected, the epilogue of this Tour de France Women took place in the Vosges, during the only two mountain stages concocted by the organizers. And as expected, Annemiek van Vleuten crushed the pedals to outwit the competition. The number of the Dutchwoman was still enough to disconcert the peloton and the observers. Saturday July 30, first. Starting alone 65 kilometers from the finish, the Movistar runner had widened the gaps in the ascent of the Grand Ballon pass, relegating her compatriot Marianne Vos, yellow jersey at the start, to more than twenty minutes. More than the stage victory, the climber of almost 40 years had knocked out the general classification and had made sure, barring an accident, of winning the event.
This mattress acquired, she only had to manage her effort during the eighth and last day between Lure and the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Sunday July 31, to secure the final victory. But here again, van Vleuten went on the offensive, flying from the foot of the last ramp in front of a small group running out of solution. With this new demonstration at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, the Movistar rider adds her name to the winners of the women’s Grande Boucle, back after three decades of absence. “I didn’t even believe it was possible after being so sick, she had savored on the eve of the arrival, diminished at the start of the week by a gastrointestinal virus. I came so close to quitting the race, it’s a small miracle. »
Juliette Labous fourth
Three weeks after Annemiek van Vleuten’s success in the Giro Rosa, the women’s version of the Tour of Italy, this 2022 edition of the Women’s Tour de France confirms the current domination of the Netherlands in women’s cycling: the Dutchwoman Demi Vollering, appeared as the only one able to compete, only one time, with van Vleuten, finished the race on the second step of the podium, when Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) spent four days in yellow and pocketed two stages, and Lorena Wiebes ( Team DSM) dominated two sprint finishes, including the inaugural stage on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday July 24.
France will have to wait before finding an heiress in Jeannie Longo, triple winner in the last Tour de France to have been organized by Amaury Sport Organization, the historic manager of the men’s Tour, from 1984 to 1989. She has with Juliette Labous , (Team DSM), first Habs in the general classification (4th, at 7 minutes 28 s) of a serious candidate for the final victory in the years to come.
Level differences still too great
The director of the Tour and former runner Marion Rousse can be satisfied while waiting for several successes, including the audiences. The eight days of racing gathered an average of 2 million viewers on France Télévisions, the broadcaster of the event, or half of the figures collected three weeks earlier on the men’s Tour. Perhaps seduced by a few innovations, such as the possibility, in the manner of Formula 1 races, of listening live to the instructions received in their headsets by the runners, 2.7 million people followed Saturday the penultimate step in front of their post.
Certain modalities of the event, however, still need to be refined to avoid the repetition of massive falls observed this year in future editions. “Differences in level cause a lot of incidentsincluded Stephen Delcourt, the manager of the French team FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope whose co-leader Marta Cavalli had been eliminated on the second day of racing after a crash. Our sport is not mature, there are big differences in level and that’s normal. I understand that ASO wanted to support certain teams by having them take part in this great race, but there are cyclists who don’t have the experience. »
There also remains the frustration, expressed by several riders, of not having been able to run a less telegenic time trial or very high mountain stage in the Alps and the Pyrenees, i.e. the two traditional justices of the peace of the men’s race. “This year, it was very important to be attractive. But we don’t forbid ourselves to put some in the next few years, ” recalled Marion Rousse.