London — Lorena Wiebes earned her second win of the Tour de France Femmes with victory on stage five to Saint-Die-des-Vosges.
Wiebes out-sprinted world champion Elisa Balsamo and race leader Marianne Vos to add to her victory in the opening stage on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
A big crash had split the peloton with 45km remaining of the 176km stage from Bar-le-Duc – the longest ever stage of a women’s race in the modern era – but it came back together for a bunch finish and there was no touching the in-form Wiebes.
With four bonus seconds for finishing third on the stage, Vos – who has finished in the top five on every stage so far – stretched her advantage in the yellow jersey to 20 seconds from Silvia Persico and Kasia Niewiadoma.
But Vos’s main goal in this inaugural Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is the green jersey which is on the shoulders of Wiebes, who stretched her advantage with a second win – and the 17th of her season.
Asked if she was the best sprinter in the world right now, Wiebes said: “If you want to say it. I don’t like to say it for myself. Today I was happy to deliver this sprint after such a long stage.
“It’s still a goal to get the green jersey but we also want to stay in the general classification with Juliette (Labous). Today was a real team effort and that was the most important thing.”
After the chaos of Wednesday’s stage four on the gravel, this was a more straightforward day, but the length of the stage gave it an unknown element.
With 45km to go, a touch of wheels saw the road blocked by a huge crash. Most riders got going again but Emma Norsgaard was forced to abandon, leaving the race in an ambulance, while others needed patching up.
Lotte Kopecky was among a group of riders held up by more than a minute as a result, though it all came back together as the final two riders from the day’s breakaway were caught inside the last three kilometres.
There was a bizarre moment as they came down the final straight as Elisa Longo Borghini, fourth overall and Trek-Segafredo’s main hope in the general classification, took a wrong turn as she followed a TV camera bike off the course, a move that cost her nine seconds.
She now sits 34 seconds behind Vos, who will expect her lead to come under greater pressure on Friday’s hilly stage to Rosheim before the weekend’s finale in the Vosges mountains.
“It was a good day,” Vos said. “We wanted to do well, we wanted to control and stay out of trouble in the final and do a good leadout. It was very hard. I think everybody had the same tactic and the last 20km went really fast.”
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