Lorena Vibes won a chaotic fifth stage of the Tour de France Femmes, involving several riders, including one who was forced to engage her foot with her own wheel.
It was a second stage victory for the Dutch DSM rider, who also claimed victory in Sunday’s opener in Paris, when a major four-rider breakaway was reeled down the Vosges mountains in eastern France.
Before that, there were scenes of chaos as about 30 bodies and carbon bikes piled up in the middle of the road in the 175.6-kilometer marathon stage of the Tour – the longest in the modern era of women’s cycling – from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Die- Des-Vosges.
Britain’s Lizzie Holden was one of four riders on the Le Col-Vahoo team who crashed when one rider came down in the middle of the herd with 45 km to spare. While the 24-year-old girl came out of the pile, she admitted that she was shaken by the incident, which broke the guillotine in two pieces.
“We were all together and it just happened so quickly, you really don’t have time to stop,” Holden said. “I think it was at a time when we were all comfortable and also a little tired. Maybe there was a touch of the wheels or something.
“I was far behind the other girls so no harm done, I just had to change bikes, but some of the other girls were in very bad shape. Hopefully they will be fine but it was stressful, the four of us had to bike Had to replace – my handlebars turned the other way.
“For me personally, I get a little scared in the peloton at times, so after things like this, I tend to back off a little more. It’s also really terrifying to see so many girls on the floor. You see something that It doesn’t move for ages, it’s crazy and it’s really not cool to watch. It’s part of bike racing, but we still come back every day.”
As the bikes blocked the road, it took three minutes for some riders to go again. An unidentified rider from EF Education-Tibco-SVB had to physically remove her leg from the tip of her wheel, while Norwegian Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) was taken to hospital with a neck brace.
As the peloton lowered itself, Italian rider Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ), one of the victims of the huge pile-up, could be seen running with a bloodied elbow.
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) extended her lead over Sylvia Persico (Movistar), after earning a time bonus of 4 seconds to finish third behind Viebes and world champion Alyssa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo). Vos takes a 20-second lead over Persico in Friday’s stage, with Kasia Nuyadoma (Canyon-Labor) in third at the same time.
Emily Newsom (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), Anya Lowe (AG Insurance-NXTG), Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) and Entri Cristoforo (Human Powered Health) chased the peloton with more than three minutes to spare. But as they approached the Cte d’Haute-Bois, the final climb of the day, they were caught.
The race heads to the border with Switzerland on Friday before the mountain stages that await at the end of the Tour. So far maintaining his impressive record of finishing in the top five of every stage, Vos is in control, but the seconds in the sprint don’t compare to the minutes in the mountains.