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‘The pressure is on, but that's fine’ - Wiebes confident ahead of stage 1 of Tour de France Femmes

HARLOW ENGLAND JUNE 07 Lorena Wiebes of Netherlands and Team DSM celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 8th The Womens Tour 2022 Stage 2 a 921km stage from Harlow to Harlow WomensTour UCIWWT on June 07 2022 in Harlow England Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM celebrates stage 2 sprint victory at 2022 The Women's Tour (Image credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) will be a marked woman on the opening sprint stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, but she is confident about her chances at victory.

A win on the Champs-Élysées, hallowed ground for sprinters, is a big goal for the Dutch rider, and brings with it the chance to wear the first yellow jersey of the race, but the competition is tough.

“For sure, Elisa Balsamo, Marianne Vos, Lotte Kopecky and Emma Norsgaard [are favourites]. We are coming here for one goal,  and that is to win,” Wiebes said. “The pressure is on, but that's fine.”

Wiebes has already recorded 14 wins this season, including four in last week’s Baloise Ladies Tour. As well as Wiebes’ impressive turn of speed, her success is also a result of Team DSM’s disciplined lead-out train.

Most of Wiebes’ key helpers have been selected for the Tour, with Pfeiffer Georgi and Charlotte Kool ready to repeat their proven-effective efforts.

“We have a really strong lead out and we are very used to each other,” she said. “I think we can do a really great job tomorrow on the Champs-Élysées. I'm really looking forward to it. We have one of the strongest lead outs here, so I think it will be a nice battle tomorrow.”

Many riders in the peloton will have experience racing the Paris circuit from when it hosted La Course, but Wiebes – who was still a junior the last time La Course was in the capital – has not. However, she has done her homework.

“I watched some videos from the men's racing,” she said. "It's interesting how they do it, especially for us, and our DS Albert [Timmer] was also there racing as a lead out for the men's team a few years ago. We are prepared for it.

“The timing is really important for the sprint because it's a long and straight road. We have a team for that and can time it good. The speeds will be high, a chaotic day, but we have the team for it.”

As one of the most successful sprinters in the peloton, Wiebes will also be a contender for the green jersey, though she says stage victories are her initial priority.

“It depends how the day is going, but the biggest focus is on stage wins,” she said. “I have to see how my legs are feeling but the green would be nice to take home.

“There are some intermediate sprints tomorrow, but we won't want to risk going for those if it means not winning the stage. So, winning stages is the most important, and then the green jersey, for me.”

What is at stake on stage 1 is not lost on Wiebes, but the first aim will be to win the sprint as if it were any other sprint day.

“It will be a special feeling to wear the yellow jersey, but I try to see this as a normal race,” she said. “I think there will be some emotions if I win there, but we have to see tomorrow.”

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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.