Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) was been cleared to continue in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift following her heavy crash on stage 6 but abandoned the race after being dropped amid multiple attacks in the early kilometres of stage 7.
The Dutchwoman came down along with sprint rival Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) on Friday's stage, finishing more than seven minutes down and sustaining injuries that required stitches.
A decision on whether she would remain in the race was set for Saturday morning, and she duly turned up for the start of stage 7 in Sélestat ready to race.
"After consultation with the team's medical staff, Lorena Wiebes has been given the all clear to start today's stage," read a statement from Team DSM.
Wiebes and Kopecky, along with Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM) crashed a little over 20km from the end of the 128.6km stage from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim. Kopecky and Amialiusik got back into the field, and Kopecky went on to finish third behind Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) in the bunch sprint.
"Following her crash on today's stage of the Tour de France Femmes, Lorena Wiebes suffered some abrasions and needed a few stitches on her elbow," Team DSM said in a medical update following the stage.
"Despite this, she is doing well and will be monitored closely overnight before assessing if she’s OK to start tomorrow’s stage."
Wiebes, who won the opening day and stage 5, was visibly in pain as she remounted her bike and tried to get back into the field. However, the team quickly made the decision for her to sit up and ride easy to the finish.
"At a point, it doesn't make sense to try to come back. She was far behind and in pain. To bring her back up only to get dropped again. It was easier for her to just roll in. That was a decision we had to make. It also doesn't make sense to try everything to come back," said Team DSM director Albert Timmer.
"We didn't have the initial intention of really going for a sprint today, unless all the circumstances were good. It looked good until the moment Lorena crashed, so we straightaway made a switch to try something else."
That something else meant working for German Champion Liane Lippert, who launched an attack on a climb around 10 kilometres from the end of the race. However, she didn't manage to gain any significant time before the sprint teams set up for the final won by overall race leader, Vos.
"It was too late in the race to make it hard enough," said Timmer.
Kopecky, who finished third, had also gone down hard with Wiebes at 22km to go. She was holding her head while seated on the pavement unsure if she could continue.
"I had the feeling that I really smacked my head, really hard actually. I was trying to wait and hoping no one would ride into me. It was just a hard shock," Kopecky said.
She did remount and by the time the race reached the closing kilometres she felt ready to sprint.
"I think it was good to have this adrenaline [for the finish]. I had some help from the finish from the Plantur-Pura car, so thank you for that. Once I got back, I knew it was only two short climbs, and I just had to find it in my head and my legs to stay in good position."
Wiebes, who finished 7:34 down, looked visibly shaken as she rode through the team parking, dismounted her bike and went straight onto the Team DSM bus. She appeared to be in pain, blood running down her her right elbow, shorts torn in several places. Medical staff confirmed that Wiebes had scrapes and bruises and that she required stitches to close the wound on her elbow.
The stage victory opportunities for Wiebes, who is second in the points category to Vos, are now in the rear vision mirror with the Tour de France Femmes now heading into the mountains. The Dutch sprinter's abandon leaves Team DSM with just four riders – Charlotte Kool abandoned on stage 3 – to support the overall and stage hopes of Juliette Labous, seventh overall, and Liane Lippert.
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