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Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo Women) won the ovearall at the 2021 Tour de l’Ardèche. The American sealed her GC ranking with a fourth-place finish on stage 7. Thomas took control of the GC after a stage 2 win and never faltered.
“I think one of the best parts about this week was when Pablo really kept us calm and really made sure we were patient and got our team together, so we never were isolated,” Thomas added.
In the seventh and final stage, Thomas sprinted to the line ahead of Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) and Mavi García (Alé BTC Ljubljana) who were looking to better their third- and second-place overall podium positions on the final stage.
Santesteban and García were both awarded the same time on the stage and were also even on time in the general standings.
On the final stage, Thomas went all in to maintain her GC position after a break distanced itself from the main bunch.
“Obviously, it would have been nice not to have that break up the road, but there were a bunch of attacks, and we were killing ourselves trying to keep them from going, and eventually it was better to let Korevaar go, and control from behind. When she went, we waited for a couple of minutes for the team to get together, set a good pace, and kept the gap under control,” Thomas said of the final stage.
The 81.5-kilometer final-stage route from Le Pouzin to Privas with three categorized climbs was won by 2021 world cyclocross champion Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo Women) who soloed into a 48-second win, dropping Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing) and Lucy Kennedy (Team BikeExchange) who had been together in a three-woman break. They had managed a three-minute gap on the main field before teams’ climbers took to the front to try to limit damage.
Just before the final summit on the Col de Benas launched a move, and dropped Korevaar and Kennedy. She increased the margin on the descent.
This was Brand’s fourth win of 2021. She previously won two stages and the final classification in the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour.
Reflecting on the final stage, Thomas cited tactics in maintaining the race lead.
“Sheyla and Paula did a fantastic job setting a hard pace over the vast majority of the final climb. Over the top it was more open and windy, and Mavi did the first attack — obviously, it was my job to cover, and I covered that one, but eventually, one of Mavi’s further attacks stuck, and I just couldn’t quite close the gap.
“It was a long descent, and with the confidence I had, I knew I had a chance to bring it back. It was about maintaining that close gap and making sure I didn’t go too much into the red over the top of the climb,” said Thomas.
2021 Tour de l’Ardèche Stage 7 Results
- Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo Women), 2:21:44
- Jeanne Korevaar (Liv Racing), at :48
- Lucy Kennedy (Team BikeExchange), at 1:06
2021 Tour de l’Ardèche Stage Final Standings
- Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo Women), 2:21:44
- Mavi García (Alé BTC Ljubljana), at :09
- Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange), at s.t.