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The inaugural version of the race sees an official women’s Tour de France back on the calendar for the first time in more than 30 years. While there were some unofficial versions through the years, it is the first opportunity for the women’s peloton to compete in an official one.
Wiebes stormed to victory in the opening stage down the Champs Élysées, beating Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in a straight-up duel along the cobbles. The women’s peloton has previously raced along the famous boulevard when La Course was held in the French capital, but unlike then, it will carry on out of Paris for seven more stages.
“It’s really special that the Tour de France is back for the women. I think it’s a really good parcours here, we have everything, we have stages for sprinters, punchy stages, and climbing stages. I hope that we can inspire a lot of girls to get on the bike,” Wiebes said.
“I think it’s good to improve every year with the stages, but we take our own steps in the women’s peloton. We have a full program of races, so I think for now it is completely fine with the eight days and next year we will see.”
Wiebes never got to race on the Champs Élysées as La Course moved out of Paris before she was able to ride it. Her first experience of it was capped off with not only the honor of winning the stage but becoming the first yellow jersey of the week.
With the bonus seconds she earned, she now has a four-second lead over Vos with Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) back in third at six seconds back.
“I’m really happy that I got to ride on the Champs Élysées. As expected, it was a hard race. It was a fast one and it feels really special to ride here around Paris and even more special to be wearing this yellow jersey,” she said.
Wiebes came into the Tour de France Femmes as the top favorite for the first yellow jersey. The Dutch powerhouse has been the dominant sprinter in the peloton throughout the season, notching up double the number of victories than anyone else.
When Wiebes is at a race, it is hard to look past her on sprint stages. Despite a potential history-making win on the cards, Wiebes did not let the pressure of expectation get to her. It was only as she closed in on the finish line that she started to feel the enormity of the moment.
“It was quite relaxed before the start, and we did everything as normal. I started to become a bit more nervous toward the final. I’m happy that I finished it off and I finished off the teamwork,” Wiebes said.
In addition to the yellow jersey, Wiebes also secured herself the lead in the points competition. While she’s unlikely to hold onto yellow through to the finish, the green jersey is a real possibility for her.
She pinpointed the classification as a target for herself, but she said that team priorities come first and she will not bury herself in search of green.
“First, for tomorrow, the stage win is really important and after that it is also important the GC for Juliette Labous. If it doesn’t take too much energy then we will also go for green, but we will not put a crazy amount of energy into it,” she said.