Preview: What you need to know about stage 7 of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes

It will be a big day for the GC hopefuls.

by Abby Mickey

Date: Saturday, July 30
Start: Sélestat
Finish: Le Markstein Fellering
Distance: 127.1 km

The most challenging stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is stage 7, the race’s penultimate stage. With three category one climbs, the peloton will climb nearly 30 km over the 127.1 km route. The first climb of the day starts 36 km into the stage.

The Petit Ballon, at 9.3 km long with an average grade of 8.1%, is far from insignificant, and there is barely any time to recover with the Col du Platzerwasel only 17 km later. After the Platzerwasel, the race continues to the Grand Ballon, a 13.5 km climb.

From the top of the Ballon, it’s a little over 7 km to the finish at Le Markstein Fellering.

Even though the eighth stage includes Le Super Planche des Belles Filles, the relentless up and down of stage 7 makes it the first significant battle for anyone aiming to finish the race in yellow. Teamwork will only get the riders so far in this stage, as the climbing starts early. It will be every woman for themselves by the time the race hits the Grand Ballon, if not earlier on Col du Platzerwasel.

Who will win stage 7?

Even with a stomach bug earlier in the week, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is the number one favourite to win and take yellow on Saturday. She is the strongest climber in the women’s peloton and can either ride everyone off her wheel or attack until she’s cracked all her rivals. It will be a shocking stage if Van Vleuten doesn’t walk away with the win.

Behind Van Vleuten, there is a handful of second-tier GC favourites. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) finished the Giro Donne strong with a few good days in the mountains. However, she isn’t a super strong climber on the long ascents.

The same goes for Kasia Niewiadoma. Although the Canyon-SRAM rider skipped the Giro to focus on the Tour, she might be in better climbing form than she’s shown in the past. Niewiadoma finished second overall at the Giro in 2020 and has won climbing heavy races like Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardeche in 2018. That year, the week-long French stage race included the climb up Mont Ventoux to Mont Serein Station on stage 4. Niewiadoma finished fourth, eight seconds behind Mavi García.

García (UAE Team ADQ) would be one to watch on Saturday, but it’s up in the air how she’s feeling after the gravel on stage 4. Still, she is only a minute and 12 seconds down on Van Vleuten. Not somewhere you want to be, but she was riding well in the Tour’s early stages.

SD Worx will have two riders going for the top spot on Saturday. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Demi Vollering have been vocal about their ambitions to wear yellow in the Tour. Moolman Pasio looks to be riding quite well, and so far, it’s hard to tell how Vollering is feeling.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) is riding really well. She is going into stage 7 in ninth on GC, just behind Van Vleuten. It’s a shame she lost a minute and a half on stage 2, but she’s not out of the picture yet.

Finally, Juliette Labous of Team DSM won the only mountain top finish at this year’s Giro. Whether she can compete with the top women in the field remains to be seen, but she’s proven she is not one to be overlooked.

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