Things race differently at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The Tour is the Tour, and if you know you can’t win the stage, you might as well take what you can. For Fenix-Deceuninck’s Yara Kastelijn that was QOM points.
Kastelijn was aggressive as the climbs really lit up the second stage of the race with 50 km to go. There was a series of lower-classification climbs, two Category 4s and a 2, before the final climb to the finish.
Perhaps she knew the stage was out of reach because it looked like both Kastelijn and Anouska Koster (Uno-X) were on the hunt for points. With them in the break was Jumbo-Visma’s Eva van Agt, who was not hunting points, and was visibly confused by her companions.
“We were not going for the points,” Carmen Small, Jumbo director, said at the finish. “Maybe some other teams [were going for them], it’s a weird structure of the KOM, there’s a lot of them but not for a lot of points.”
The points breakdown is pretty standard, with 2 and 1 points going to the first two across the line of a Category 4 climb, 3-2-1 to the first three over a Category 3 and 5-3-2-1 for the only Category 2 on the route on Monday.
Within the final 30 km, the three Dutch riders weren’t working like a break that thought it could survive to the line. Koster went for the bonus points, earning six seconds while Van Agt took four and Kastelijn two. Their gap was a minute at this point with 26 km to go and Van Agt and Koster could be seen chatting with each other as they approached the next Category 4 climb, the Côte de Merlhac.
This is where things got a little more interesting. Van Agt accelerated, with Koster on her wheel, while Kastelijn followed behind. Into the climb, Koster could be seen on the radio moments before Kastelijn accelerated and Van Agt shook her head. Behind them, the peloton loomed.
“We were talking about where the points were, and if there were points, we really didn’t know it, but also we were all a bit tired,” Kastelijn said at the finish. “More me and Anouska because Eva said, ‘I don’t need the points.'”
The next climb would go to the GC favourites as the race came down to the closing kilometres. Unfortunately, Van Agt crashed heavily on a descent with 6.8 km to go due to some wet roads and tight turns outside the town of Mauriac, and did not finish the stage. Kastelijn narrowly avoided a crash as well, and multiple women went down in the peloton behind.
“I was really good in the race, actually the whole team was good in the race,” Koster said at the finish. Her teammate Hannah Ludwig had also been on an attack earlier in the stage with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB’s Georgia Williams. “I felt really good today, especially on the harder points it was nice I could compete in the front. I was really happy with my performance. Only in the end, in the final it was not so nice with the crash of Eva, that was really hard to see. Luckily she was ok now I heard.”
Koster had her sights set on the stage victory, and for a moment there it looked like there was a chance the stage could go to the break before Kastelijn’s near miss took her out of the lead group and then Van Agt’s crash left Koster on her own.
“When we were in front I tried to get some points, it was not the main goal, but when you’re there then you go for it,” Koster said of the QOM battle. “Yara didn’t really want to work really well, so then I said we have a gap and that’s the most important, when you are here it’s about the win in the end.”
In the end, Kastelijn ended up taking the polka-dot jersey off the shoulders of Kasia Niewaidoma (who was holding it for yellow jersey wearer Lotte Kopecky). Her tactics in the break as well as one solo attack earlier in the stage won her seven points, two more than teammate Julie van de Velde who was first over the only Category 2 of the day.
There are five climbs on offer in Stage 3. Three Category 3s and a 4, so not a huge number of points in the grand scheme of things but enough to fight for. And no matter what jersey it is, and when in the week you get to wear it, a jersey at the Tour is a jersey at the Tour.
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