Wiebes beats Vos to claim first Tour de France Femmes yellow jersey

Paris: Lorena Wiebes of the Netherlands lived up to the hype as she won the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes to claim the first yellow jersey of the resurrected race on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

The DSM rider, the pre-stage favourite, timed her sprint to perfection to beat her compatriot and former Olympic champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Belgian Tour of Flanders champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), who were second and third, respectively.

It is the first time in 33 years that the Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has granted female professionals an official multi-stage race.

ASO previously organised La Course, a race that coincided with the men’s Tour but was only run over one or two stages.

Sunday’s stage started from the Eiffel Tower and ended on the iconic avenue, just hours before the conclusion of the men’s race.

It was the first of eight stages covering a total of 1033 kilometres that will culminate on the brutal slopes of La Super Planche des Belles Filles on July 31.

“It’s incredible – the girls worked tirelessly for me. It was a very long sprint, but I was expecting it as I was getting ready for Marianne Vos to go early,” said Wiebe.

“I’m so happy. We’ve had a great season so far. I managed to accelerate one last time when Marianne was next to me.”

Sunday’s 81.7-kilometre opening stage around the streets of the French capital was marked by the crash of Belgium’s Alana Castrique (Lotto-Soudal), who was taken into an ambulance on a stretcher after falling hard on her back.

Overall after stage one, Wiebes leads Vos by four seconds by virtue of time bonuses, with Kopecky in third, six seconds off the pace.

It is hoped the Tour de France Femmes becomes a permanent fixture on the world tour cycling calendar.

A Tour de France stage race for women took place from 1984 to 1989, running in parallel with the men’s edition, before being shortened and cancelled altogether.

Various other versions were tried, but were usually underfunded.

Online fitness platform Zwift has signed on with a four-year sponsorship after riders spent years calling for a women’s version of the race.

A campaign over the last few years saw women ride every stage of the men’s race to raise awareness of the issue and pressure ASO into backing an official race.

Reuters, AP

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