The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift: the complete guide
Should gravel be on the menu at the Tour de France Femmes?
How to watch the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift – live TV and streaming
Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift stage 3 Live: Uttrup Ludwig wins uphill finish in Epernay
-Stage 4 runs from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube over 126 kilometres
-Although with a flat finish, there are four gravel sections, five classified climbs and one bonus climb.
- After 45 kilometres, a 3-rider group forged open a 2-minute gap: Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93), Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra).
- After Demay was caught and the bunch broke into several pieces on the multiple gravel sections, some 23 kilometres from the finish, Marlon Reusser (SD Worx) broke away and soloed home alone.
-Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) led the main pack home for fifth, and remained in the lead for a third straight day. Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel&Service) and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon/SRAM) remained in second and third overall.
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Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 4 of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
The stage begins at 1300 local time, when there's a 10 minute neutralised section prior to racing 'proper' starting at 1310, so roughly 20 minutes to go.
Weather is set to be dry and clear, but not too warm, between 21 degrees minimum and 26 degrees max at the start and finish. And a fairly gentle breeze of around 7-10 kmh, from the north-west
Opinion is divided today between this year's @RoubaixFemmes winner @ElisaLongoB 🇮🇹 and the indomitable @marianne_vos💛. Both certainly have the characteristics to take the stage victory but who will come out on top at the end of the day? #TDFF #TDFFdata pic.twitter.com/uhyM6zoVN2July 27, 2022
As we head into the neutralized 6.9 kilometre section prior to the stage, heres a reminder of yesterday's standings, both GC and the other classifications.
Given the off-road sections on today's stage, comparisons with Strade Bianche are flowing thick and fast, and it's worth noting that all of the top 10 finishers from this year's edition this March are present here in the Tour de France Femmes today. The winner was Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx).
Here's a written breakdown of the challenges facing the riders today:
Km 68. 1 Gravel sector 4: Chemin Blanc de Celles: 2,300 metres
Km 68.1 Côte de Celles-sur-Ource (3rd. cat) 1.1 kms at 8.9 percent
Km 77.3: Côte de Val de Clos (3rd. cat) 900 metres at 8.8 percent
Km 77.4: Gravel Sector 3: Chemin Blanc de Hautes Forets: 3,200 metres
Km 89.2: Gravel Sector 2. Chemin Blanc du plateau de Blu: 4,400 metres
Km 98.6: Côte de Maitre Jean (4th cat) 1.8km at 4.4 percent
Km 106.4 Gravel Sector: 1. Chemin blanc de Vitry 3,00 metres
Km 106.4: Côte de Vitry (4th cat.) 900 m at 6.9percent
Km 117: Bonus climb: Cote des Bergeres 1.7km at 5.1 percent
Km 121: Côte du Val Perdu (4th cat.) 1.8 km at 4 percent
That's four off-road sections, numbered inversely just like in Paris-Roubaix and the men's Tour de France, five categorized climbs and one 'bonus' climb, all in about 60 kilometres of racing. Worth noting that whereas Paris-Roubaix is flat, though, here some of the climbs and cobbled sections overlap.
That's the first gravel section (km 68.1), the second (km 77.4) and the fourth (km 106.)
And racing is underway.
118 kilometres to go
We're 8 kilometres into racing and the peloton is still all together.
Here's a shot for the depart reel from the race organiser
C'est parti pour la 4ème étape du #TDFF !Le maillot à pois changera t-il d'épaules aujourd'hui ? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/ZGDQkDHmKeJuly 27, 2022
The riders are just about to enter the Forest D'Orient Natural Park, and the route heads round what looks on a map to be like three sides of a square, taking the riders round a large lake in the centre before heading out again after roughly some 40 kilometres. Then shortly after that there's the first intermediate sprint of the day at Bar-Sur-Seine, around 66 kilometres from the finish and then shortly after that we're onto the cobbles and climbs, with 60 kilometres to go.
A brief attack by Martina Alzini (Cofidis), Thalita De Jong (Liv Racing Xstra) and Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT) is almost as quickly closed down. 107 kilometres to go.
103 kilometres to go
The race is hotting up. 23 riders have gone clear, with a gap approaching 15 seconds.
Overall, the best placed rider is currently reported as Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing Xstra), 3:06 back, while reigning World Champ Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), 6:54 down, is also present. 15 seconds the gap for the 24 ahead on the bunch.
Here's a look, courtesy of the race organisation, of the gravel roads the Tour de France Femmes peloton will shortly find themselves tackling.
🍇 Have a look at the famous white gravel roads the riders will tackle today ⤵🍇 Vous voulez un avant-goût des chemins blancs que le peloton du #TDFF affrontera aujourd'hui ! ⤵#WatchTheFemmes https://t.co/YpoAo50uumJuly 27, 2022
And here's a photo of the Tour de France Femmes peloton wending its way through eastern France in the first part of the stage.
92 kilometres to go
And the 28 rider move has been caught, with Movistar doing much of the work. We're a quarter of the way into the stage and the peloton is still together.
86 kilometres to go
As the peloton heads into the town of Vendeuvre-sur-Barse, a lone rider, Valerie Fortin (Cofids) is ahead by a scant 10-15 seconds.
A much bigger and more dangerous group gets away, including race leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), but that move is equally quickly clamped down.
83 kilometres to go
Another three riders dart away, Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93), Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) and Valerie Demay (Liv Racing Xstra) and eke out a 40 second gap. That may not sound like much, but it's the biggest margin anybody's had on the peloton so far today.
The breeze, incidentally, is picking up a little and is currently a three-quarter tail wind at a steady 13kmh. But there are plenty of changes of direction still come and for the last 20 kilometres, it'll probably be a headwind. Temperatures a balmy 25.4 degrees Celsius.
76 kilometres to go
The gap for our three attackers, Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93), Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra), has risen to well over the minute mark.
75 kilometres to go
And as the peloton takes it relatively easy after a fairly manic first hour of racing, the gap for the three attackers is rising fast and now stands at 1:56.
70 kilometres to go
The gap for the three ahead, Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93), Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra), rises to 2:36.
And the race is out of the natural park of Foret d'Orient and is heading towards the first intermediate sprint at Bar-sur-Seine.
62 kilometres to go
Valerie Demey (LivRacing Xstra) takes the intermediate sprint, but there wasn't a major battle in the three leaders of the stage for the points. More significantly, Lorena Wiebes (DSM) picked up fourth, allowing her to close in a little on green jersey leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
And as the race is approaching the first climb, the Cote de Celles-sur-Our, with 58.7 kilometres to go after which we're straight onto the first gravel section, the 2.3 kilometre Chemin Blanc de Celles.
59 kilometres to go
And the gap is shrinking for our three leaders, Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93), Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra), as the peloton starts to tackle the lower slopes of the climb. 1:40 their current margin, and it's dropping fast.
FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope, Trek-Segafredo, Jumbo-Visma all active on the front.
Laura Asencio leads over the top of the climb and onto the first gravelled section of the race.
In the break, Valerie Demey (Liv Racing-Xstra) was struggling towards the top of the climb and has not been able to get back on.
The main group are on the first section of gravel with Juliette Labous (DSM) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) leading on the front as the bunch shrinks in size. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) are all well placed.
55 kilometres to go
And on the fast descent that follows, Laura Asencio (Ceratizit-WNT) has gone clear in the break.
Coralie Demay (St.Michel Auber 93) has rejoined Asencio on the front as the lead bunch comes off the gravel and eases visibly.
So that's one gravel section done and (pun fully intended) dusty, but the next gravel section and hill, the Cote de Val des Clos, is coming up fast.
52 kilometres to go
On the tarmacked section approaching the next gravel sector and climb, the two stage leaders, Demay and Asencio, have 1:10 on the peloton.
According to the official race site, although there are five groups after the peloton, the top ten overall are all in the main bunch some 100-strong, 1:08 down on the two stage leaders.
And the leaders are on the second climb of the day, Côte de Val de Clos (3rd. cat) 900 metres at 8.8 percent, but the gap is dropping to under a minute.
As they near the summit of the Côte de Val de Clos, in the break Demay is going clear of Asencio.
And as soon as Demay hits the summit, she turns onto the gravel section no. 3, the Chemin Blanc de Hautes Forets, 3,200 metres long.
48.5 kilometres to go
The bunch has splintered on the climb, with '22 Strade Bianche winner Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) amongst those dropped.
And the combination of the climb and gravel has shattered the peloton, with around 30 riders remaining in the front group. 24 seconds the gap for stage leader Demay.
Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) is leading the remnants of the bunch on the long sector 3 at a ferocious pasce, but the dust cast up on the off-roads in these very dry conditions, as much as the gravel itself, is making this a very difficult stage.
46 kilometres to go
Demay is close to being caught, with advantage of just 11 seconds, while Kopecky is nearly a minute back on the lead peloton.
In the main group, as riders battle to stay upright and in contact on the gravel, Van Vleuten is briefly slowed to a halt when a rider unintentionally all but swerves into her. But the Dutch star regains momentum and continues.
43 kilometres to go
And as the race comes off sector 3 of gravel and the main peloton regroups, Demay continues to lead solo and increases her advantage to 30 seconds.
Demay has about three kilometres to go to the next sector of gravel, Chemin Blanc du plateau de Blu, a whopping 4.4 kilometres long and one of the toughest.
Kopecky has made it back into the main group, by the way, now over 100 riders strong.
As well as the gravel and climbs, the riders are now facing a 13 kmh headwind.
37 kilometres to go
With Kopecky back on board, SD Worx power things up again and as she moves onto gravel section number 2, Demay's gap drops to barely 10 seconds.
36.5 kilometres to go.
Demay is finally caught.
A spectacular image of Demay on an off-road section
Puncture for stage 3 winner Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig in the middle of the off-road section.
Two kilometres to go on the gravel section, around 30 riders including race leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in the front group as SD Worx pile on the pressure.
Uttrup Ludwig's small group is closing the gap to just 20 seconds on the leader's bunch as it stretches on a punishing section of gravel.
The front group, now down to some 20 riders, as they swing off the gravel sector. Puncture for Niewiadoma, third overall, but she gets back on to a second group, around 15 seconds down on the leaders.
30 kilometres to go
The lead group of 20, containing race leader Vos, is fast approaching, the Côte de Maitre Jean (4th cat), 1.8km long with a gradient of 4.4 percent.
Niewiadoma and Uttrup Ludwig and an unlucky Spanish National Champion Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) who punctured on the gravel have all regained contact with the main group, which swells to around 50 riders as they ride steadily up the Côte de Maitre Jean.
24 kilometres to go
And we're fast approaching the final gravel section and third last climb, the 3 kilometre Chemin Blanc de Vitry and the Côte de Vitry, a 4th cat. climb, 900 metres long and at 6.9percent.
23 kilometres to go
Vos, protected by two teammates, can be seen safely tucked on the lefthand side of the front group while we've got a solo attack by SD Worx racer Marlen Reusser on the other side of the peloton.
21 kilometres to go
Reusser's lead reaches 29 seconds.
20 kilometres to go
Reusser leads over the summit of the Côte de Vitry with a 20 second advantage and swings directly onto the final gravel section, the Chemin Blanc de Vitry.
Niewiedoma piles on the pressure behind as SD Worx racer Reusser opens up a gap of 30 seconds.
A crash involving Mavi Garcia (UAE) and Alex Manley (Bike Exchange-Jayco) just as García was switching bikes on the gravel section. Reports too, that Van Vleuten has punctured.
Meantime Vos is accelerating hard on the last segment of the gravel. Reusser's advantage 30 seconds.
16 kilometres to go
Reussser leads with 26 seconds on a 12-strong chasing group including Vos and Niewiedoma on a series of swooping downhills.
14 kilometres to go
Van Dijk tears through the lead group and tries to spark some life into the pursuit of Reusser, but the chasing is unevenly paced. 30 seconds the gap.
Another crash for García, as she contacts with the front bumper of a team car, sending her spinning to the ground. Very luckily, she doesn't appear to be too badly hurt, and she's able to get up and get racing again. But that was a horrendously narrow miss.
10 kilometres to go
Meanwhile Reusser is 30 seconds ahead of lone counter attacker Alena Amialusik (Canyon-SRAM), who in turn is being chased by Evita Muzic (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) a few seconds further adrift. The bunch is at 55 seconds.
On the 'bonus' climb of Cote des Bergeres, Muzic catches Amialiusik and the two set about chasing down solo leader Marlen Reusser (SD Worx).
6.5 kilometres to go
And then there were three. Veronica Ewers (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) bridges across to Muzic and Amialiusik towards the top of the Cote des Bergeres, and speeding down the descent they have a 46 second gap to make up on Reusser.
And a reminder that there's just one climb left to go, the Côte du Val Perdu, a 4th cat. 1.8 km long at 4 percent.
5 kilometres to go
Reusser is forging on steadily and she has a gap of 1:08 on her trio of pursuers and 1:29 on the bunch, or rather what's left of it as she crosses the summit of the Côte du Val Perdu. Barring disaster, the SD Worx rider has got this in the bag.
The main bunch crests the Côte du Val Perdu climb with a sharp attack by Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel&Service), second on GC. But Vos is straight on her back wheel.
1.5 kilometres to go
Reusser has a gap of 1:18 on her three pursuers as she approaches the finish. A solo win beckons.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) solos through the last few corners. Stage 4 is hers.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) wins stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
Muzik outsprints Amialusik for second, with Ewers in fourth.
Race leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and the main bunch roar home just a few metres after the three chasers, claiming fifth ahead of Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx). Vos will, therefore, continue in the lead as well as claiming a useful haul of points for the green jersey.
Overall, no changes in the top three on GC time-wise or in placings as Vos continues to lead for a third day by 16 seconds over Persico and Niewiadoma.
And here's an early shot of the winner as she crosses the line.
Riders, it should be said, are continuing to cross the line in dribs and drabs. For all the main GC favourite appear to have kept in contention, a significant number of the main peloton have had a very tough day.
Marlen Reusser, stage 4 winner of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift: We did it! The team had the plan to make a hard race and to not let it come down to an easy final so we just said that we'd attack and one would go and and I was lucky that it was me.
We have our GC leaders, we always keep them in front and see they are there, but this time has always an aggressive or open race strategy, so everybody in the team is allowed to do something, or to win a stage if possible. So we all worked very well together, we helped each other and attacked, and I was really the lucky one to be the one that could go. So I'm very thankful to my team and teammates.
I think in this Tour every day is hard, at least for me and I think this stage suits the kind of rider I am, with these gravel sections, so it was hard but it not harder than other stages.
Asked if this was the best win of her career and better than her victory in the European TT Championships, she replies with a smile, "these things are difficult to say, I don't know, for sure it's supergood, but I would not judge which one is the best, I enjoy them every time."
As the dust (literally as well as metaphorically) settles on stage 4, it would appear that Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ) is the only top ten rider on GC to have come seriously unstuck. The Spanish national champion had a nightmarish day including falling heavily after being clipped by a team car, and although she could complete the stage, was 33rd on the line. Overall, she's dropped from fifth to 11th.
And (courtesy of my colleague Laura Weislo) here's what Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) had to say about a very fraught day, but which the race leader herself appeared to get through with a minimum of problems.
"I think if we look back we've been quite safe with the team. We tried to stay in the right positions. Of course we tried to stay in contention for the win as well but when [Marlen] Reusser (SD Worx) attacked it was a very strong moment. We also knew it's very difficult to cover everything and to keep the yellow jersey is a very nice thing." "So it's a good day.It's great when you're in the front but less great when you're a little further back. I really enjoyed today - also again the spectators along the course. The team kept me out of trouble all day and that was the main thing. I am very happy."
As for whether she's aiming at the points jersey as well, Vos said: "Today we were still aiming to stay in contention, to stay up front for the sprint and the stage. But when you're wearing yellow you also want to keep that. It's nice to be in a good place for green but for now it hasn't been the main focus."
And here's a photo of Reusser celebrating a very memorable win
For a full report, galleries and results on a hugely eventful day in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, you can link across to our story on Cyclingnews here:
Our story on Mavi García's brutal day out is here Mavi Garcia hit by own team car on hectic Tour de France Femmes gravel stage.
We'll also be bringing you more news, analysis and features from the Tour de France Femmes both as the evening unfolds, and, of course, during the rest of the race.
And here are the full results for all the different classifications. No change in the yellow jersey of course, while Vos also continues to rack up points to buttress her corresponding top spot in the points ranking. Femke Gerritser (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) continues to rule the roost in the mountains classification and Julie de Wilde (Plantur-Pura) is still Best Young Rider. Thanks in part to their stage win with Marlen Reusser, SD Worx, mind, have moved up a place ahead of Canyon/SRAM Racing to gain the provisional lead in the teams rankings.
A spectacular shot of the race through the dust on stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes
As for what awaits the riders on stage 5, it's a 175.6 kilometre trek between Bar-le-Duc and Saint-Dié-Des-Vosges. With just three fourth category climbs, the last 20 kilometres from the finish, although there's a slight rise in the last few kilometres, barring the risk of cross-winds, the odds of a bunch sprint are high.
That wraps it up for today's live report for now. But we'll be back with another live report tomorrow to see if we have the second full bunch sprint of the 2022 race, or maybe another outcome.
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