Jeremy Whittle

Vos reaps benefits of Jumbo-Visma strength in depth

Marianne Vos of Jumbo-Visma shows elation and exhaustion after her stage 6 win of the TDF Femmes. (Getty Images)

Marianne Vos took her second stage win and retained the maillot jaune in stage six of the Tour de France Femmes, but only after her team had yet again mastered what on paper might have been a tricky stage.

In the end it all looked so simple, as Marianne Vos again sprinted to victory, this time in Rosheim, to emphasise her team’s domination on the flat stages in the women’s Tour de France. But she was also indebted to exemplary teamwork, with British rider Anna Henderson, who spent most of the stage in the 14-rider breakaway, playing a key role in the Dutch team’s control of the race.

Henderson was there at the very last, with compatriot Joscelin Lowden (Uno-X), and Marie Le Net (FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope). Ultimately it was the aggressive Le Net who was the last to be reeled in, as the peloton picked up speed towards the finish, but the hugs and backslaps that greeted Henderson at the team bus, as she began her warm-down, showed how integral her role had been to Vos’s latest success.

“I thought there could be a chance [of the break sticking],” she told Stelvio, “but today was the last day for more people to win, whereas the next two days [in the Vosges] are going to be pretty tough.”

One of the skills that came to the fore was Henderson’s descending, as the break rolled over a series of moderate climbs en route to Rosheim. Bizarrely though, the former downhill skier admitted that she had stopped skiing because “I couldn’t go downhill anymore,” adding that she “only managed to bring my head round it a year or two ago.”

“It’s really a thing you have to practise and have confidence in. I don’t love the descents or attack them, it’s really not my thing. There was a bit of luck that I actually stayed up because I went in a bit too hot,” she said of one heart-in-mouth moment, “but it was a good day.”

Like her peers, she acknowledged that the Tour de France Femmes has been “hectic”.

“There’s been a lot of media and noise around the race. Everyone has been racing as if it’s a one-day race. Everyone’s been really on it and have wanted to just smash each other apart. It’s been a tough, but special week. I think it’s been hyped a lot – a little bit unnecessarily – I think we need to let the racing do the talking. But it’s been a great week, really special and an honour to be a part of it.”

Now the Vosges beckon, with a series of gruelling climbs that will really test the peloton in the next 48 hours.

“There’ll be lots of climbing and suffering and watching people ride away from me,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be long and savage.”

And after it’s all over at the summit of Super Planche des Belles Filles, on Sunday afternoon, Henderson will jump in the car and head to the UK’s West Midlands to compete in the time trial and road race at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. No private planes then, even when you ride for Jumbo-Visma.

“I’m driving,” she shrugged, “because I’ve got too much equipment to get over there.”

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