TdFF daily stage 4: top ten result for Kathrin Hammes
German spends second consecutive day in the break
Sixty-plus kilometers in a solo breakaway yesterday wasn’t enough for Kathrin Hammes.
When she went for the break yesterday, she wished that a few riders would join her. Today her wish came true and Kathrin was part of a 14-rider group that opened a significant advantage over the peloton.
Over the course of the 177 kilometer stage, the longest ever in the race’s history, the break’s advantage grew to over ten minutes. Kathrin and the other riders in the break continued to work together, sharing the work and staying ahead of the peloton. As the break approached the final 40 kilometers, the gap began to tumble with each passing kilometer.
While the peloton attempted to pull back the lead group, the break began to splinter. The finish line waited in Albi at the top of a punchy climb with a 13% section. Kathrin gave her all and crossed the line first in her group, earning her ninth place on the longest stage in this year’s Tour de France Femmes.
Hear from our riders how the stage unfolded.
Another day in the break. I wanted on the first climb to go for the points and then I ended up near the front anyway so that’s how I got into the break which was super nice because finally I had some company. The break was a really good group. Everyone was working really well together and also the time gap grew quickly so that was really nice for sure and super motivating. At some point we started thinking about the finish, even thinking that we could stay away until the finish, which was super nice to think about. Along the way I tried to go for the mountain classification but Anouska Kosta was just a bit stronger today and at some point I had to give up. But I'm really happy that I could finish in the top ten and be ninth. It was a good day for me.
Today we really wanted to make sure we had someone in any major breakaway. In the beginning we knew there was going to be quite a narrow road for the first queen of the mountains points that started around 14k so we had a few of us well positioned and then on that climb we were all kind of sitting toward the front. We also knew that Kathrin and Georgia had points in that competition so if there was an opportunity for them to get some more points, then they could go for it. That’s what Kathrin did, she went with a few riders and fought for the points over the top. Then there were a few of us behind, following and there was a group that went. It took a long time for the break to be established. Basically I did a lot of covering moves just to try to get the break to stick because there were a couple of teams that missed it and were really trying to get across and there was a group in the middle for awhile that we ended up catching in the end. We were just trying to either get someone else across if another group went or shut down any bigger groups that would have brought the whole breakaway back. In the end it probably took 50 minutes before the breakaway was established and then everyone sat up. That’s when they got a bunch of time.
Once the gap grew and the breakaway was established, it was more about positioning and keeping Veronica safe and not using too much energy. Once we started climbing more in the back half of the race, just making sure to keep the positioning efficient and to make sure that Veronica could start at the front. At least a couple of us tried to stay with her as long as possible. Teams started chasing and going really hard on the climbs and then on the 6k climb with 40k to go, I just barely hung on to it over the top but then we hit a steep descent into steep climbs and then I was done. I just waited for the gruppetto to catch me from behind and Letizia and I had a nice little spin to the finish. That was my day. And I listened to the radio to hear what was happening at the finish and I was cheering.
I’d like to give myself credit for Kathrin’s big performance because I told Mags to lead her out and then I led her out for the climb and that’s when they got away. That was my big contribution to the day. Then Sara handled so many of the counter attacks on her own. I swear Sara covered about eight attacks in addition to the rest of the team.
It was a long day but I think we did really well together around Veronica, even just figuring out positioning and making space. The more we can make it easier for her or for the rest of the team, because I was feeling not so great, that was good, so just translating that to not a calm part but when it gets more chaotic to try to keep that. I think the more that we do it when it’s easy, the better the chances we’ll do it when it’s hard. And then when we got to the climbing part, I was gone.