Lorena Wiebes is among those dropped already. She started the day heavily bandaged after her crash yesterday. There were doubts about her continued participation and she looks to be struggling.
The average speed is over 40km/h so far
It’s a fast start. A few riders have dropped out the back of the bunch but no one’s going clear off the front of it so far.
Lots of Ballons as we enter the Vosges mountains this weekend. The Petit Ballon and Grand Ballon are on the menu today, and tomorrow we have the Ballon d’Alsace, which has symbolic significance in that it was the first official mountain pass of the men’s Tour de France in 1905.
The stage starts out with 25km on the flat, then starts to tilt up towards the day’s first climb, the Petit Ballon, which starts after just under 40km. It’s the Petit Ballon, as opposed to the Grand Ballon later on, but it’s probably the harder climb, a few kilometres shorter at 9.3km but with a vicious average gradient of more than 8%.
No breakaway forming just yet.
The stage is waved underway.
A slight delay to proceedings as two riders puncture in the neutral zone and we wait for them to get back in before kicking off.
Before we get going, now’s the time to catch up on yesterday’s action. Stage 6 report, plus all the results and standings, and a photo gallery, all in here.
The riders are on the move. A short neutral zone and the race proper will be waved underway in just under 10 minutes’ time.
After sprints, gravel, crosswinds, and kickers, these mountains signal the true general classification battleground. The climbs are so severe that we should see big gaps between the title contenders, with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) the heavy favourite, even if she had a stomach bug earlier in the week.
The riders are on the start line and we’ll be underway any minute.
It’s been an action-packed Tour de France Femmes so far, but things only intensify from here. It’s the final weekend, and we’re heading into the mountains.
Sunday’s final stage summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles is sure to be a spectacular finale but today’s stage stands alongside it in stature, and is being dubbed by many as the ‘queen stage’ of the race. There are three major category-1 climbs on the menu today, finishing with the Grand Ballon and a dip to the line.
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews‘ live coverage of stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes