It seems only fitting that Annemiek van Vleuten — a cyclist whose career has been defined by comebacks — won the long-awaited revival of the Women’s Tour de France following a “rollercoaster” ride of her own.
Van Vleuten, who began feeling sick just hours after stage one on Sunday, was struggling just to eat and drink earlier this week. The two-time Olympic medalist turned things around in the mountains, winning stage seven on Saturday with a dominant solo ride.
The 39-year-old Dutchwoman entered the eighth and final stage of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes with a 3 minute, 14 second lead, but her victory appeared in jeopardy early on Sunday due to mechanical issues that resulted in six bike changes.
But van Vleuten came back. Like she always does.
Six years ago at the Rio Olympics, Van Vleuten was leading the women’s road race and having the best race of her career when she had a horrendous crash on a downhill turn. She was placed in intensive care at a Brazilian hospital, where she was diagnosed with three small spine fractures and a concussion.
Van Vleuten was back on her bike within two weeks and went on to win her first world title in 2017 and two Olympic medals (gold in the time trial, silver in the road race) at last summer’s Tokyo Games.
On Sunday, van Vleuten attacked with six kilometers remaining and went on to win both the stage — a 123-kilometer mountainous climb from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles — and the 2022 Tour de France Femmes title. (A video highlight is embedded above.)
“That’s actually a dream that comes true,” she said. “It was not an easy stage. It was not an easy week… and even today it was not easy. But to finish here in yellow? Solo? (That’s) the best way.”
2022 Tour de France Femmes: Results, highlights, event history, stage details and more
Van Vleuten, who has said she plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 season, also hinted at the progress still left to be made in women’s cycling.
“I hope it’s a big start for more and that you can build this event to a bigger event for the women, also. Men and women,” she said.
2022 Tour de France Femmes – Final General Classification Ranking (Top 10):
|Rank||Athlete||Team||Total Time / Time Behind|
|1||Annemiek van Vleuten||Movistar Team||26h 55′ 44″|
|2||Demi Vollering||SD Worx||+ 3′ 48″|
|3||Kasia Niewiadoma||Canyon–SRAM||+ 6′ 35″|
|4||Juliette Labous||Team DSM||+ 7′ 28″|
|5||Silvia Persico||Valcar–Travel & Service||+ 8′ 00″|
|6||Elisa Longo Borghini||Trek–Segafredo||+ 8′ 26″|
|7||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig||FDJ Suez Futuroscope||+ 8′ 59″|
|8||Évita Muzic||FDJ Suez Futuroscope||+ 13′ 54″|
|9||Veronica Ewers||EF Education–EasyPost||+ 15′ 05″|
|10||Mavi García||UAE Team ADQ||+ 15′ 15″|
2022 Women’s Tour de France: Stage-by-Stage Results and Standings
Distance and Course Type
Yellow Jersey (General Classification Leader)
Green Jersey (Points Classification Leader)
Polka Dot Jersey (Mountains Classification Leader)
Young Rider Classification Leader
Team Classification Leader
|Stage 1||24 July||Paris (Tour Eiffel) to Champs-Élysées||82 km (51 mi) — Flat stage||Lorena Wiebes||Lorena Wiebes||Lorena Wiebes||Femke Markus||Maike van der Duin||Canyon-SRAM||Gladys Verhulst|
|Stage 2||25 July||Meaux to Provins||135 km (84 mi) — Hilly stage||Marianne Vos||Marianne Vos||Marianne Vos||Maike van der Duin||Maike van der Duin|
|Stage 3||26 July||Reims to Épernay||133 km (83 mi) –Medium-mountain stage||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig||Femke Gerritse||Julie De Wilde||Alena Amialiusik|
|Stage 4||27 July||Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube||126 km (78 mi) –Medium-mountain stage||Marlen Reusser||Julie De Wilde||SD Worx||Marlen Reusser|
|Stage 5||28 July||Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges||175 km (109 mi) –Hilly stage||Lorena Wiebes||Julie De Wilde||Victoire Berteau|
|Stage 6||29 July||Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim||128 km (80 mi) –Flat stage||Marianne Vos||Julia Borgstrom||Marie Le Net|
|Stage 7||30 July||Sélestat to Le Markstein||127 km (79 mi) –Mountain stage||Annemiek van Vleuten||Annemiek van Vleuten||Demi Vollering||Shirin van Anrooij||Canyon-SRAM||Annemiek van Vleuten|
|Stage 8||31 July||Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles||123 km (76 mi) — Mountain stage||Annemiek van Vleuten||Mavi Garcia|
Annemiek van Vleuten
Shirin van Anrooij
You can watch a replay of stage eight of the 2022 Women’s Tour de France via Peacock.
Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC