Tour de France Femmes: Marianne Vos consolidates lead with stage six success

The Tour de France Femmes leader, Marianne Vos, of the Jumbo-Visma team, won stage six of the race, from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim, in the Alsace, taking her second stage victory after Monday’s success in Provins.

However the yellow jersey holder acknowledged that the weekend’s double whammy of mountain stages in the Vosges would ensure a change of race leadership. “It’s another kind of race on Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “I’ll try to recover as well as I can, but there are some really good climbers and we’ll see other names up front tomorrow.”

Her main sprint rival, compatriot Lorena Wiebes, also winner of two stages, did not feature in the sprint to the line. The DSM riders’ hopes of taking a third stage win were dashed after she crashed on a downhill section with 21km still to ride.

A breakaway of 14, including British riders Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) and Joscelin Lowden (Uno-X), had moved clear earlier in the stage. As the finish neared and the lead diminished, Henderson, Lowden and French rider Marie Le Net (FDJ-Suez) counterattacked with 15km to go, but the peloton devoured them and swept back into Rosheim, where Vos maintained her grip on the overall lead.

Some of the leading riders in the women’s peloton, including the French national champion, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, have reacted angrily to criticism of their riding skills following the mass crash during Thursday’s fifth stage.

After the former journalist and rugby commentator, Pierre Salviac, tweeted an image of the crash, saying: “Is this the Tour de France? A festival of mass crashes? Are the girls ready for this level of competition?” Cordon-Ragot retorted: “We are women, not girls … love people who talk about cycling and vent their frustrations, because they don’t wear pants at home …”

Christine Majerus, the champion of Luxembourg, posted a message “for the haters” featuring images of crashes from this year’s men’s Tour de France.

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Vos however admitted that, despite her role in lobbying for the women’s Tour, she’d had little time to think about the significance of the race. “There’s not enough time to reflect,” she said. “Just enough time to eat and sleep. There’s not much time to think about the bigger picture, but we feel the tension, the emotion and the excitement.”

But when asked if the rebirth of the women’s Tour had lived up to expectations, she was unequivocal. “Is it worth the hype!?” she said. “Yes, definitely!”