Silke Smulders after ‘easy’ sixth stage: “Peloton was like a washing machine”

Did the riders have to overcome a lot of altimeters in the Tour de France Femmes over the last few days; Friday’s sixth stage (122 kilometres) was significantly less demanding. However, four fourth-category climbs still had to be completed. Liv Racing TeqFind ensured that team leader Mavi García (+ 02”01 in the general classification) got through the day unscathed.

“From the start there was immediate racing and we were well positioned as a team. Especially the second climb of the day was important for us, because we knew the road was narrow there and that it would be followed by a fast descent. As a team, we were right where we wanted to be”, says Silke Smulders.

“On the third climb it was raining attacks from the peloton, although at that point there was already a breakaway. Everyone reacted to everyone, I jumped too myself. The peloton broke for a moment, but eventually came back together. At that point it was clear that the sprinters’ teams wanted to go for a bunch sprint.”

In the remainder, Silke Smulders and her teammates supported Mavi García as best they could. “We constantly had to fight for our place, the peloton was like a washing machine. From a distance it looks easy, but positioning makes such a final quite hectic. Luckily we were well together as a team, only in the last two kilometres we lost sight of each other for a while. Mavi was involved in the crash in the last kilometre, but fortunately did not suffer any injuries.”

Overall classification

The stage was won by the Danish rider Emma Norsgaard, who was in the breakaway. She stayed narrowly ahead of the sprinting peloton. Lotte Kopecky still wears the yellow jersey. Mavi García starts the final weekend of the Tour de France Femmes in 13th position and hopes to move up a few more places.

Col du Tourmalet

Saturday’s stage awaits the ascent of the Col d’Aspin and iconic Col du Tourmalet. “There’s no doubt we’re going to see fireworks tomorrow”, says Silke Smulders. “The first goal is to put Mavi in a good position at the Col d’Aspin. I hope to keep up as long as possible myself, so I can support her again later towards the Col du Tourmalet. That climb is of course extremely tough, but nevertheless I also want to enjoy it.”