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The penultimate stage of the Tour de France Femmes was the ‘Queen Stage’ with two mythical Pyrenean monsters, the Aspin and the Tourmalet. It was Barbara Malcotti who was the team’s first finisher.
The day started in the small town of Lannemezan in blazing hot sunshine, but as the race got going the clouds began to gather.
When the riders got to the Aspin the mist had settled around the summit, obscuring the tops of the mountains behind a murky veil. This is where the race got serious.
There had been a few snipes off the front with British rider Alice Barnes launching the first move of the day.
But everyone was brought back on the climb with Movistar setting the tempo and then launching world champion, Annemiek van Vleuten. This split the race and there were riders everywhere.
Over the top the temperature plummeted and by the time the riders began the Tourmalet it had started to rain. The fog had descended further as well, making visibility very poor on the crowd-lined climb.
Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon-SRAM led into the climb but was caught and dropped by stage winner and new yellow jersey, Demi Vollering of SD Worx.
Malcotti put in an admirable ride finishing in 33rd on the day. This moved her up to 24th in the general classification.
The grupetto came in not as one large bunch but in straggling groups gall over the road, each finishing a handful of seconds apart from each other.
Marjolein van’t Geloof finished inside the time cut, but unfortunately Barnes missed the limit by just under a minute. It is never nice to lose a rider to the hors delai and we wish will miss Alice for the remaining day of racing.