Columbia dominates Route de France

Team Columbia's Luise Keller won the Route de France for her first career stage race win, capping...

Team Columbia's Luise Keller won the Route de France for her first career stage race win, capping off Columbia's dominance of the women's race. The team won the prologue and four of the six stages, and wore the leader's yellow jersey for every day except one. Columbia also won the team ranking.

"I'm really happy to win my first stage race," said Keller, who is also German national road champion for the second year running. "It was a really nice race and I found out what it feels like to be a GC rider. I didn't have to do anything after I got the yellow jersey except eat and drink. My team-mates did everything else."

Team director Ronny Lauke was extremely happy with the whole race. "It was amazing," he said. "The girls rode really well together and came up with a very exciting victory. It was also very rewarding for me as this is my first tour win as a director in women's cycling." A former rider himself, Lauke was previously directeur sportif at the now defunct Team Wiesenhof.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg started off Columbia's success, winning the prologue and first stage. Stage two went to Italian Martina Corazza of Gauss RDZ Ormu, and Columbia had to give up the leader's jersey. Keller, 24, put on the yellow jersey after stage 3, which she won after a solo attack, and she kept it for the rest of the race. Urte Juodvalkyte, a Lithuanian riding for USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo, turned a 100-kilometre solo escape into a win in stage four, but Columbia took control again after that. Teutenberg took the fifth stage, and Keller won the closing time trial by nearly 40 seconds, giving her an overall win of some two minutes.(SW)

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