After all the preparations were finalised in June, some of the biggest stage races and Grand Tours of the season awaited the team in July, including the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes.
On the last days of June, the Women’s program already headed to Italy to take on the Giro d’Italia Donne – the first big stage race of the summer. After a solid start in the prologue, with Juliette Labous being in the mix with most of the GC contenders, the sprinters fought it out on the next two stages. Charlotte Kool could show her huge talent and sprint to third and second place finishes before the rest day, where the race headed from Sardinia to the Italian mainland. Following the rest day, the race got harder. On stage four, a strong group of GC contenders could stay away, and Juliette lost some ground to her opponents. Stage five saw the sprinters again fighting for the victory and Charlotte taking another impressive second place. For stage seven, the first mountain top finish of the race was on the menu. Juliette went into the break to fight for the stage win and left her opponents behind her with eight kilometres to go. On the top of the Passo del Maniva, she could take time to celebrate her first Giro stage win and second victory of the season, while also being back in the fight for a top ten result in the GC. On the two remaining mountain stages, she could finish in the top ten and climb to ninth position in the final GC. The Women’s program could round up the week in Italy with one win, three podiums, and two more top ten results – a good week of racing we would say!
Meanwhile, the Men’s program took on the Tour de France. The guys started their adventure in front of the massive crowds in Copenhagen, rounding it off with Alberto Dainese sprinting seventh on day three, after a technical prologue and a hectic second day. Back in France the GC fight was slowly building up, seeing Romain Bardet getting a solid tenth place in the punchy final of stage six and moving up to ninth in the GC. He was also able to stay close to the best climbers at La Super Plache des Belles Filles the next day, fighting until the line and finishing eighth on the day and moving up sixth in GC. While the breakaway fought for the last victory before the rest day, Romain finished in the GC group after some good teamwork and went to the deserved day off in a good position.
Back racing, the rest day seemed to have some good effect on the guys. Andreas Leknessund could finish eight out of a demanding break on stage 11, while Romain climbed to the first podium for the team after an epic day finishing third on the Col du Granon. The race and weather heated up in the following stages with the famous finish on Alpe d’Huez on the menu for stage 12. Romain could show another solid performance just finishing outside the top ten and staying in contention for a top ten finish in the GC as well.
After the Women’s program had made their way around Italy, Development Team DSM were back in action in Italy too. The Giro Ciclistico della Valle Aosta was on the program for them, a race through the mountains that usually sees the climbers fighting for stage wins and GC. Oscar Onley could finish fifth and fourth on stages one and four while Lorenzo Milesi came close to victory from the breakaway on the third stage by finishing second. In the last stage the hard work from the team finally paid off and Oscar rode solo to a brilliant win after attacking from the break. His teammate Max Poole managed to finish the stage in the top ten as well, rounding out a really solid week for the Development program by finishing in sixth position overall.
Back in France, three hard mountain stages kicked off the final week. Romain proved his good form again with a sixth place on Peyragudes and finished off the great teamwork again in a good way. Before going into the all-deciding time trial, the second last sprint was expected. With a late attacker staying clear, Alberto Dainese came second from the bunch and has now podiumed a stage in all three Grand Tours in a row – a brilliant feat. In the time trial, Romain delivered a strong ride and gained one position in the GC, which meant he finished seventh overall: rounding off the great performance of the team during the second Grand Tour of the year.
At the Baloise Ladies Tour, the Women’s program finalised its preparation ahead of the Tour de France Femmes. The race started with a strong team performance in the prologue, with four of the team finishing in the top ten. In the following days, the sprint train proved its strong shape by setting up Lorena Wiebes to win all four sprints of the race. Lorena also finished the time trial fourth and as a result end the GC as a well-fought second place. Pfeiffer Georgi and Esmée Peperkamp could also finish the race in the top ten of the GC: capping off a fine week for the team.
With that amazing week in their back pocket, the Women’s program headed to one of their big highlights of the year, the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes. Before the Men’s race would have its final chapter in Paris, the Women’s peloton kicked off their race on the famous Champs-Élysées. It was a hot and fast race on the local laps but in the end, it came back together in the final kilometres, where the team could set up Lorena in a super position. She launched her sprint at the perfect moment and would cross the finish line first, writing history and winning not only the first stage but also donning the first yellow jersey for the team the next day.
The race continued in its hard manner the following day and a strong break could stay clear after attacking over the last climb. Yet the team never gave up, fighting hard and leading Lorena out to win the sprint from the bunch, but ultimately losing the losing the lead of the race. The team can be proud of their efforts though and will always be remembered as the first winners and owners of the famous yellow jersey at the Tour de France Femmes – something truly remarkable!
Stage three saw the first fight for the GC take place on a hilly parcours. After looking strong on the climbs and staying among the best, Liane Lippert, unfortunately, crashed over the top of the final ascent. Juliette Labous could hold on to the rest of the favourites though, finishing the stage in ninth and moving up to eighth on GC. The team showed another strong performance coming through the exciting gravel stage without any big issues and Juliette and Liane were able to finish among the GC contenders. Day five was one then again for the sprinters – and the longest stage on the calendar. Franziska Koch showed brilliant legs by controlling the early break for over 100 kilometres on her own while the rest of the team could bring Lorena to the final in a good position once again. From there she surfed the wheels before launching her remarkable sprint and winning the second stage of the race for the team.
Heading into the final weekend the team worked superbly to position Juliette for the queen stage on Saturday, where she climbed to a brilliant fourth place on what was a brutally hard day in the saddle. Sunday’s final stage saw another superb team performance with Liane in the break and then supporting Juliette deep in the finale on the famous La Super Planche des Belles Filles ascent. Juliette fought all the way to the line for a brilliant fifth place on the stage; a result that sees her secure an incredible fourth place on GC at the first Tour de France Femmes.