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Gallery: Incredible Annemiek van Vleuten in a class of her own on Tour de France Femmes Stage 7

30 Jul 2022

What a performance. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) blew the Tour de France Femmes apart on Stage 7 today as the race hit the high mountains for the first time.

She dominated the day, won the stage by more than three minutes, took the yellow jersey and effectively ended the GC battle as a meaningful contest with a day still to go.

The day started with an air of real expectation. A 126.6km stage from Sélestat to Le Markstei contained three big climbs, culminating in the 1,338m Grand Ballon, and would finally answer some of the questions that had been building for days.

Could Jumbo-Visma’s Marianne Vos surprise us all on defend the yellow jersey? How was Van Vleuten really feeling after being ill earlier in the race? What of the other pretenders – Demi Vollering, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Kasia Niewiadoma and co? The answers would come quickly.

On the first climb of the day, the Col du Petit Ballon, Van Vleuten went on the offensive, with only Vollering (SD Worx) able to go with her.

By the top of the climb the pair were well clear of Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), who was alone in third place on the road, with a group of chasers including Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope) the best of the also-rans. Vos and her yellow jersey crossed over more than 10 minutes down.

The second climb, the Col du Platzerwasel, was more of the same, just with bigger time gaps. 1km from the top Van Vleuten dropped Vollering, and that was basically that – with half of the stage still to go.

Not that it was boring – watching the 39-year-old Van Vleuten operating at such a clearly superior level to her rivals was a pleasure, and richly deserved for her years of commitment and dedication to cycling.

She crossed the line 3:26sec ahead of Vollering, while Uttrup Ludwig winning the sprint for third from Juliette Labous (Team DSM) and Niewiadoma. They were 5:16 down.

Van Vleuten now leads Vollering by 3:14 and Niewiadoma by 4:33 in the general classification going into the final stage tomorrow, which culminates in a summit finish on La Super Planche des Belles Filles.

Few would bet against her completing the Giro Donne-Tour de France Femmes double by the time the dust from those brutal gravel ramps up to the finish finally settles.

Relive the stage with our gallery from Russ Ellis (Cycling Images)...

One bottle of water versus the effects of 2,883m of climbing? Doesn’t seem fair.

By the time Annemiek van Vleuten reached the plateau after the Col du Platzerwasel barely halfway through the stage, she was all on her own.

Just out for a bike ride...

Among those who had a day to forget were Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx) and UAE Team ADQ’s Mavi García, who both finished more than 10 minutes down.

EF Education-TIBCO-SVB’s Veronica Ewers had a solid day, and remains the leading American rider on GC in 11th place overall.

A glimpse of the polka dot jersey of Femke Gerritse. By day’s end the jersey would be on Demi Vollering’s shoulders.

Once the race hit the mountains it was effectively the end of World Champion Elisa Balsamo’s day’s work, who finished in a large group nearly 25 minutes down.

Van Vleuten couldn’t wipe the smile from her face for the entire last couple of kilometres – and no one was complaining.

Two thumbs up from us too.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) was third on the road behind Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering for much of the day, but eventually faded to finish seventh behind Valcar Travel & Service’s Silvia Persico.

Van Vleuten now holds a three minute-plus lead, which is hard to see her losing on La Planche des Belles Filles tomorrow.

Feels good, right?

Really good.

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