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La Lanterne Rouge Féminin 2022 ***Spoilers***

" I still don't get it," said Elisa, placing her flick knife back in her pencil case alongside the list of first years who owed her lunch money 'for protection'. "Why has sadistic games Mistress Mme Prudhomme cancelled the usual French day trip in favour of a week long cycling holiday?"
"Nor me," replied Katarzyna, who had been holding her atlas upside down in an attempt to make sense of it. "She always seemed to love dragging us to some boring French city instead of Paris."
"She was taking backhanders from local councils to do it, if you ask me," chimed in Head Girl Marianne. "Nobody else wants to go and stare at some stupid mountains in a place named after a teletubby."
"Talking of which!" jumped in Cecilie, who had unwisely been allowed sugar and an extra large bag of exclamation marks. "Do you remember Marseille! The boys school were there! We got to see their Tinky-Wi-"
"Quite," said Marianne, who was glad not to be sharing a dorm with Cecilie. "But at least we are going to Paris this time."
"I can't wait for the culture," said Katarzyna.
"I can't wait to talk to a man about... a job for the family," said Elisa darkly.
"And I can't wait to ride you all off my wheel!" concluded Annemiek.
"OH PISS OFF!" chorused the others.
"I fully intend to," smiled Annemiek.

From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

Yes, this is it - the big one. The history maker. The Grand Fromage. La Vache Qui Ri. The One Ring to Rule Them All. Get ready to boucle up and reignite the Lanterne Rouge Féminin because it is time to rock and roll.

The Girls Of Pedally Towers will be with us all week, and I'm not sure how long I can keep doing Lanterne reports so this might be the last one. And if it is I want to go out with a bang, so let's make this one the best one yet. The course starts with fairly flat stages and gets progressively harder through the week, so I suspect the lead will be changing hands until the end, and whatever happens it's guaranteed to perform the same function that the men's version does - a chance to discover new heroes, new stories, and new ways to scrape a perfectly functional bike across ten metres of tarmac.

Let's go.


  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "Are you sure this is the right way?" shouted Annemiek over the traffic. "I'm sure I've seen that statue half a dozen times now!"
    "Of course I'm sure!" replied Marianne, who was starting to resent her position as Head Girl. "Mme Prudhomme was quite clear - just keep turning left and you can't miss the big hill. Biggest viewpoint in Paris, apparently."
    "I reckon she's just too tight to buy us tickets for the Eiffel Tower," said Elisa. "I should talk to some of my people, get them to have 'a word'..."
    "You'll do no such thing," interjected Marianne. "We've still not found that first year that you found annoying in Marseille."
    "And they've dredged the harbour five times!" added Lotte, meaningfully.
    There was a sudden commotion behind them.
    "Brrruummm brruummm bruuummm! I'm a motorbike!!!"
    "Yes Marianne!?"
    "Take that headtorch off your helmet and kindly shut up."
    "Sorry, Marianne."
    "Now does anyone know where the hell we're going?"
    "Follow me!" shouted Lorena.

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    Some people criticised today's parcours, complaining that it was just another city centre crit - and that probably explains why so few Frenchmen were able to find it. Despite the underwhelming crowds there was some top class racing and early splits on LR. Alana Castrique made an early move to get a winning injury but overcooked it somewhat, ending her tour before it really started, and a bold move from Petra Stiasny to take serious time backfired when she was officially Hors Delai - the misleadingly titled Alpe du Place d'Etoile, Paris's most fearsome emminence (or a tiny pimple in the road, imperceptible to all but the commissaires - you decide), apparently misleading her into thinking the cut off would be far more generous.

    That left Sandra Lévénez to take the opening honours and an impressive ten minutes. Even more impressively, it got Cofidis' name into stage reports for the first time in about a decade - something that had previously seemed impossible. Congratulations to Sandra for making her mark on history.

    Waiting for a girl like you:

    133 WILLIAMS Lily Human Powered Health 2:22
    134 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 2:44
    135 ALZINI Martina Cofidis Women Team 2:58
    136 MAJERUS Christine Team SD Worx 3:15
    137 MORICHON Anais Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 3:26
    138 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 4:07
    139 SÜßEMILCH Laura Plantur-Pura 5:48
    140 BUCH Hannah Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 8:09
    141 POMPANON Margot St Michel - Auber93 WE 9:38
    142 LÉVÉNEZ Sandra Cofidis Women Team 10:26
  • ProssPross Posts: 38,824
    Some good time gains on such and unpromising course. It gives hope for final stage changes in the men's competition too.
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "Why does everyone keep pushing?" asked Lotte.
    "I think it's the curried sprouts Mme Prudhomme had last night," replied Annemiek. "Everyone keeps complaining about the wind."
    "Well I think it's beastly of them," said The Other Lizzie, who had been unable to shift her nickname despite the first Lizzie being absent. She had been grounded from the French Exchange, at least according to school rumour, after some sort of trouble involving a boy. "It's not a race you know."
    "Where's Cecilie got to?" asked Marianne suddenly. "She was here a minute ago?"
    "I think she saw the sweet shop back there," said Katarzyna.
    "Sugar! Again?" cried the girls, who knew it would take at least five of them to manhandle Cecilie back onto the coach.
    "You know you said it wasn't a race, The Other Lizzie?" asked Elisa, whose studded cycling gloves appeared to have "hate" embroidered above the knuckles.
    "Yes, Elisa?"
    "It damn well is now. Quick! Before Cecilie gets back!"

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    Today was widely seen as a transition stage intended to help the peloton away from the Parisian cobbles and towards the hills that will dominate the end of the race. However in a summer that just keeps giving the wind blew, the roads winded wound wund didn't go straight, and the major transition was that of a steady stream of bicycles from the vertical to the horizontal.

    In short it was absolutely brutal, with road furniture, white lines and pinch points combining with a nervous peloton to create a series of dramatic crashes that pulled the bunch to bits. This sort of stage is ideal for the Lanterne, of course, and the women wasted no time in getting stuck into, erm, wasting time.

    It was also good to see riders from lesser known teams having their time in the sun, and in particular the women sponsored by St Michael, who will no doubt be grateful for copious supplies of their sponsor's sensible underwear if they have another series of moments like today.

    Yesterday's leader, Sophie Lévénez might have been confident of wearing the Lanterne for a further day when she woke up this morning, but a remarkable ride by Noémie Abgrall was judged to perfection, eating up all but 45 seconds of her allowance before the cut and later sarcastically thanking the voiture balais "for its support" on the social media hellsite, Twitter.

    Less fortunate was the minor constellation Ursa Pintar, timed out after missing the cut by over 7 minutes in what could have been described as a Pyrhic victory except for being an epic defeat. Abgrall's comment suggests that even the broom wagon had abandoned Pintar to the buzzards, but at least she went out on her shield.

    Three other riders left the race due to the effects of crashes - we wish them well - and the effects of hitting the deck will no doubt continue to shape both tomorrow's stage and the competition for the biggest prize in women's cycling. Join us tomorrow to try and make sense of whatever the heck it is DSM are playing at this time.

    Girls just wanna have fun:

    126 VIGIE Margaux Valcar - Travel & Service 8:29
    127 BARIL Olivia Valcar - Travel & Service ,,
    128 GASPARRINI Eleonora Camilla Valcar - Travel & Service ,,
    129 SANGUINETI Ilaria Valcar - Travel & Service ,,
    130 BIDEAU Sandrine St Michel - Auber93 WE ,,
    131 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg ,,
    132 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 8:36
    133 WOLLASTON Ally AG Insurance - NXTG Team 9:35
    134 PALADIN Soraya Canyon//SRAM Racing 9:39
    135 SPRATT Amanda Team BikeExchange - Jayco 9:52
    136 LOUW Anya AG Insurance - NXTG Team 11:45
    137 SQUIBAN Maeva Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 13:35
    138 ABGRALL Noémie Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 22:32

    Girls just wanna get home eventually:

    129 130 ▲1 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 10:25
    130 126 ▼4 SPRATT Amanda Team BikeExchange - Jayco 11:04
    131 141 ▲10 POMPANON Margot St Michel - Auber93 WE 12:01
    132 119 ▼13 LOUW Anya AG Insurance - NXTG Team 12:57
    133 138 ▲5 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 12:59
    134 57 ▼77 SQUIBAN Maeva Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 13:51
    135 140 ▲5 BUCH Hannah Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 14:50
    136 142 ▲6 LÉVÉNEZ Sandra Cofidis Women Team 15:28
    137 135 ▼2 ALZINI Martina Cofidis Women Team 15:40
    138 132 ▼6 ABGRALL Noémie Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 24:28
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    edited July 2022
    "I thought there would be pirates," complained Lotte.
    "Pirates?" asked The Other Lizzie. "Why did you think there would be pirates?"
    "Mme Prudhomme said to look out for the Coat de Mutiny," explained Lotte. "And all I've seen is bloody hills."
    "Maybe somebody's stolen it?" suggested Katarzyna.
    "You saw nothing," stated Elisa. Nobody knew what she meant, but everybody understood it was probably unwise to ask.
    "Where's Annemiek gone, anyway?" asked The Other Lizzie.
    "She said something about some windmill," said Katarzyna. "She sort of groaned a bit, said something about 'du moulin', and pulled into that layby back there."
    "Maybe she meant to say the poo was hitting the fan?"
    "Well they will insist on standing everywhere..." began The Other Lizzie, and then thought better of it. There was a brief silence as the girls contemplated the mental image anyway.
    "Maybe that wind yesterday wasn't Mme Prudhomme after all?" Lotte said eventually. "Annemiek's toilet door was banging like a pogostick tester in a minefield last night."
    "Talking of being inappropriately bouncy, where's Cecilie?" asked Marianne, worriedly.
    There was a sudden commotion behind them. Followed almost immediately afterwards by Cecilie, who shot off into the distance.
    "censored?! censored censored censored! censored censored mother censored!!!"
    "What the censored is she on?" asked The Other Lizzie, who was feeling daring after Cecilie's unexpected outburst. "That's not jelly babies this time."
    "Oh no..." groaned Marianne.
    "What?" asked the girls.
    "That was a can of energy drink..."
    "Oh no..."
    "With caffeine."
    "OH NO!"
    They could still hear Cecilie as she headed down the road in front of them, weaving from side to side.
    "censored!!!! Come and censored-ing censored, censored censored if you think you're censored hard enough!"
    "OH NO!"
    From Five Get Bleeped in Post Race Interviews by Beryl Blyton.

    Well after all the excitement at the front end of the race, the real competition heated up at the end. A parcours that offered plenty of chances to slide out, and even more chances to slide off the back, was always going to shake up racing.

    The first order of business however was completing the butcher's bill from yesterday, with Amanda Spratt retiring despite a promising position in the top ten. That was then compounded by Maeva Squiban climbing off relatively early in the stage after a brave attempt to fight through and consolidate her position.

    Meanwhile Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime (possibly the only time I'm going to bother writing out copying and pasting that team name in full) showed full honour to the primacy of the Lanterne Rouge. Noémie Abgrall was given her own dedicated domestique with hopes that the two working together could stretch her lead still further. Unfortunately what they didn't think to give her was a digital watch, and in the subsequent confusion about what Mickey's hand pointing at the 12 meant both Abgrall and Janse Van Rensburg (confusingly not France's at all) were timed out - in the latter's case by just seven seconds.

    With Abgrall hanging off the back and in danger, that left the Lanterne once again wide open. Hannah Barnes promptly crashed through to raise British hopes - it's good to see that the inability to get up hills is the last of the sprinter's arts to fade - finishing alongside teammate Hannah Ludwig and Anne Van Rooijen of Parkhotel Valkenberg (is that... is that a car park sponsoring them?) to take 16 minutes.

    Winner of the day however was Charlotte Kool, and with a last name like that you can only wonder how amazing her middle name must be. Ice Kool crashes 30 places on LR to sit in third behind Van Rooijen, and the new LR Alison Avoine of St Michael Underwear. Congratulations to Alison, whose leader's interview appears to have cut for violating obscenity laws in no fewer than thirty-three countries. We're going to need a bigger swear jar.

    Drink the Kool Aid:

    122 VERHULST Gladys Le Col - Wahoo 11:32
    123 NEYLAN Rachel Cofidis Women Team 11:50
    124 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 15:34
    125 NEWSOM Emily EF Education-TIBCO-SVB ,,
    126 ALLIN Pauline Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 15:36
    127 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 16:09
    128 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 16:11
    129 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team ,,
    130 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team ,,
    131 KOOL Charlotte Team DSM 18:58

    Pass the Band Aids:

    122 100 ▼22 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 20:43
    123 125 ▲2 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 20:59
    124 105 ▼19 ALLIN Pauline Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 21:26
    125 128 ▲3 PALADIN Soraya Canyon//SRAM Racing 21:46
    126 137 ▲11 ALZINI Martina Cofidis Women Team 23:06
    127 113 ▼14 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 23:13
    128 117 ▼11 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 23:52
    129 99 ▼30 KOOL Charlotte Team DSM 24:07
    130 129 ▼1 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 26:40
    131 133 ▲2 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 29:12
  • ProssPross Posts: 38,824
    Have to admit I'm quite glad Janse van Rensberg eliminated. I'm a bit old school and this gender fluidity isn't for me, it feels unfair to try and have another crack after an honourable top 4 finish in the men's race. They just need to pick one or the other.
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    I didn't think to check if they were related actually, but I guess genes will out?
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    edited July 2022
    "Are you sure this is the right way?" asked Katarzyna.
    "It can't be!" said The Other Lizzie. "This is another bloody farm track!"
    "Well Mme Prudhomme's map says it is," said Marianne, who was starting to entertain her own doubts.
    "I think she must have been drinking," whispered Cecilie, whose head hurt from yesterday's caffeine. "Every third hill is labelled 'chenin blanc de something'. It's disgusting."
    "Not as disgusting as that foreign boy who keeps hanging around Urška. Teddy, I think she calls him." Elisa put the knuckleduster she'd been playing with back in her pocket. "If he tells me one more time about the time he cycled around France..."
    "It's him sleeping with Urška that Mme Prudhomme needs to worry about," said Katarzyna salaciously. "She told me the other day that he's a gentleman because he came second!"
    "GIrls!" shouted Marianne. "This is a parody of 1950s schoolgirl literature! Stop being so racy!"
    "So we're not allowed to be racy?" said The Other Lizzie.
    "No!" snapped Marianne.
    "We'd better let Annemiek catch back up then, I suppose..."

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    Another hugely entertaining stage in the women's championship of unexpected language lessons (motto: écoutez et very much please don't répétez) saw yet more movement in the Lanterne Rouge.

    Charlotte Kool's meteoric descent from the heavens came to an end on the white roads, citing a crippling gravel allergy, whilst the big hitters concentrated on ripping the race to pieces and opened up opportunities for the rest of the peloton to make inroads on LR.

    That opportunity was enthusiastically grasped by many riders - fewer than half the peloton finished within ten minutes of Marlen Reusser - but Mavi Garcia missed the break and started an increasingly bizarre series of accidents in a futile attempt to lose time. Whilst the mechanic in the back of the team car applied ever larger amounts of glue to the sticky bottles in a scheme to drag Garcia back towards the leaders, Garcia hatched a desperate plan to throw herself under her own team car and thwart her DS's misplaced ambition. When even that failed Garcia visibly wilted - ironically the move that would have kept her in contention with the Lanterne if only she'd thought to start three days ago - and rolled in a mere three minutes or so down.

    The big winner on the day, however, was Hannah Ludwig. Forming an alliance with Sandrine Bideau, the two riders worked together for their mutual ambitions - Bideau for the stage win and Ludwig to go clear on LR. Finishing more than five minutes within the cut nobody flirted with the time limit today, causing some people online to complain about the lack of attacking at the back of the field, and Adam Blythe's comments won't be repeated as they're probably libellous. Especially if I invent them for him.

    Join us tomorrow as we travel from [checks notes] Ban That Duck to Agatha Christie's Death in the Vosges. That translation might need some fine tuning...

    Material girls:

    119 BIANNIC Aude Movistar Team 17:09
    120 SCHWEINBERGER Christina Plantur-Pura ,,
    121 GUTIÉRREZ Sheyla Movistar Team ,,
    122 BIRIUKOVA Yuliia Arkéa Pro Cycling Team ,,
    123 BARIL Olivia Valcar - Travel & Service 18:22
    124 SANTESTEBAN Ane Team BikeExchange - Jayco ,,
    125 ALLIN Pauline Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 20:05
    126 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime ,,
    127 SANGUINETI Ilaria Valcar - Travel & Service 20:08
    128 BAUR Caroline Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 23:15
    129 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 24:06
    130 BIDEAU Sandrine St Michel - Auber93 WE ,,

    Immaterial women:

    121 123 ▲2 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 33:29
    122 125 ▲3 PALADIN Soraya Canyon//SRAM Racing 34:16
    123 126 ▲3 ALZINI Martina Cofidis Women Team 35:36
    124 128 ▲4 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 36:22
    125 109 ▼16 BIDEAU Sandrine St Michel - Auber93 WE 36:31
    126 122 ▼4 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 39:08
    127 130 ▲3 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 39:10
    128 124 ▼4 ALLIN Pauline Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 39:51
    129 131 ▲2 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 41:42
    130 127 ▼3 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 45:39
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 16,372
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • kingstongrahamkingstongraham Posts: 25,458

  • ProssPross Posts: 38,824
    Loads of riders trying the crashing to take time technique all at the same point but end up neutralising each other. One is now trying the old being held back by the team car and pretending to have a broken bike routine, the commisaires really to to crack down on that.
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "Cover me," said Elisa.
    Sylvia couldn't imagine what Elisa meant. "Cover you? With what? Everybody's really hot and sweaty because of this cycling, and you want a blanket?"
    "No! Just make sure Mme Prudhomme doesn't see me!"
    "See you what? Are you smoking again?"
    Elisa opened her pocket slightly to reveal a package wrapped in brown paper.
    "No! Got a good deal on this. Just need to drop it off to my contact after the line."
    "Elisa! What if you get caught! What is it, anyway?"
    "Carlton Kirby's little book of anecdotes. Street value of three thousand euros. Apparently reading more than a page at once has been known to send people insane."
    Just then a wailing noise started up behind them.
    "Shoot! It's the rozzers!" Elisa hammered the pedals and shot off in the other direction to the other girls.
    "Elisa! It's onl-"
    "WOO! WOO! WOO!" whooped Cicilie. "Sprinting's fun!!! Oh! Where's Elisa going!?"

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    Today saw the longest stage of the tour, and the riders wasted no time in providing top quality entertainment. No, I mean literally. No time at all.

    Okay, that's a bit harsh - it's a grand tour and long sprint stages are always going to involve a certain amount of pedalling tempo, but unless a load of fireworks went off when the cameras were absent the decision to show less than half the stage doesn't seem to have been a bad one.

    Naturally there was still action in the Lanterne. HPH came up with a plan for Malacotti so cunning you could put a moustache on it and, I dunno, have a plan with a moustache on it or something. Taking inspiration from Garcia's super sticky bottles yesterday, the team car dropped back from today's sacrificial break and attempted to pace her backwards through the field.

    Unfortunately they decided to cover their tracks by pretending to repair her bike, giving the commissaires an easy excuse to disqualify her for "irregular repairs". Now look, I know the sort of hacks engineers resort to. It keeps me busy on Twitter for hours. So for repairs to count as "irregular" implies some pretty dodgy spanner handling indeed. I can only assume they were caught fiddling the brake pads to rub or something - in fact, the mechanical doping we've all been fearing - and there will be more to come out in the wash.

    Also coming out in the wash will be a fair bit of blood, after a crash in the peloton blocked the road from side to side and saw riders falling over like dominoes. Scraped knees and elbows were tended for the rest of the stage as people saw a way to lounge around with the medical car, but in the chaos nobody saw Letizia Borghesi sneak off the back.

    However further back still was Lily Williams, apparently sent back to work for Malacotti and unaware that her colleague had been unceremoniously booted off the race. By the time she wandered over the line to ask where everybody was she'd taken over 19 minutes and 42 places on LR. A superb display of malingering that redeemed the stage entirely.

    Ludwig still leads, but the competition is heating up and the hills they are a-coming...

    La Vie en Rose:

    120 THOMAS Leah Trek - Segafredo 2:22
    121 KOCH Franziska Team DSM 2:31
    122 DOEBEL-HICKOK Krista EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:00
    123 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 5:34
    124 LOUW Anya AG Insurance - NXTG Team 6:43
    125 VERHULST Gladys Le Col - Wahoo 6:48
    126 VAN 'T GELOOF Marjolein Le Col - Wahoo ,,
    127 BORGHESI Letizia EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 14:54
    128 WILLIAMS Lily Human Powered Health 19:47

    Ennui en Vosges:

    119 124 ▲5 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 37:23
    120 116 ▼4 VERHULST Gladys Le Col - Wahoo 38:08
    121 121 - RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 39:07
    122 126 ▲4 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 39:12
    123 128 ▲5 ALLIN Pauline Arkéa Pro Cycling Team 39:55
    124 127 ▲3 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 40:50
    125 83 ▼42 WILLIAMS Lily Human Powered Health 40:58
    126 105 ▼21 BORGHESI Letizia EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 41:38
    127 129 ▲2 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 41:46
    128 130 ▲2 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 46:22
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "Does anybody else feel like we're not actually learning very much French on this trip?" asked The Other Lizzie.
    "I've censored learned some censored vocubulary," said Ashleigh. "You lot can't stop censored swearing all the censored time."
    "I meant French, silly"
    "Well I'm fed up of hearing about Marianne," said Katarzyna. "It's all 'gagner' this and 'gagner' that as far as she's concerned. It makes me sick."
    "Well why else do you think they call it a gag reflex?" asked Demi. Behind her Katarzyna made a gesture as The Other Lizzie frantically tried to stop herself turning pink.
    "WHAT?" accused Demi, turning around.
    "Nothing, nothing." Katarzyna tried to look innocent. "I just found it hard to swallow."
    The Other Lizzie found her ginger beer exiting rapidly through her nose as Demi tried to work out what was so funny.
    "Well I do feel a bit awkward seeing all these people looking at us," said Elisa.
    "Yes, but you've always been a bit gauche," Demi said. "Especially yesterday."
    There was a sudden bang. The girls stared at Elisa's knife quivering in the table top.
    "I think," said Marianne, "that we probably ought not to play cards tonight."
    The girls started to grumble.
    "Oh come on, Marianne!" chirped Cecilie. "I almost had Mr Bun the Baker last night!"

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    Disaster in today's Lanterne as Hannah Ludwig, who had seemed to have everything under control, suddenly found herself having a jour avec and losing time to her rivals.

    Elsewhere Lorenna Wiebes wobbled and then fell down (yeah, I'm doing this one twice), apparently as part of a refocussing of her efforts towards a competition that Vos will actually let her win.

    Gasparrini, Lach and Van't (short for Bob) Geldof failed to start the stage after yesterday's pile-ups, and Alzini climbed off midstage. That left India Grainger to pick the baton up for Stade Rochelais and take the prime position with just two stages and the dirty dirty mountains to come and neutralise the race.

    Can she hold the jersey to Paris the Plank? I mean, no, obviously, but let's see who takes over tomorrow in the race for the sun a n all expenses stay in a dingy Blackpool B&B.

    Strike a pose, there's nothing to it:

    116 REUSSER Marlen Team SD Worx 15:10
    117 NEWSOM Emily EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 15:45
    118 ERAUD Séverine Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime ,,
    119 VERHULST Gladys Le Col - Wahoo ,,
    120 DE BAAT Kim Plantur-Pura ,,
    121 VIGIE Margaux Valcar - Travel & Service ,,
    122 GAFINOVITZ Rotem Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad ,,
    123 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 16:04
    124 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 18:12


    115 126 ▲11 BORGHESI Letizia EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 44:12
    116 112 ▼4 BARIL Olivia Valcar - Travel & Service 45:37
    117 121 ▲4 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 46:51
    118 127 ▲9 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 47:03
    119 114 ▼5 NEWSOM Emily EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 1″ 48:40
    120 128 ▲8 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 48:56
    121 118 ▼3 LOUW Anya AG Insurance - NXTG Team 51:56
    122 120 ▼2 VERHULST Gladys Le Col - Wahoo 54:03
    123 124 ▲1 VAN ROOIJEN Anne Parkhotel Valkenburg 57:04
    124 122 ▼2 GRANGIER India Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime 57:34
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "I'm so excited !!!" yelled Cecilie. "No cycling today! We're going up in a big balloon!!!"
    "Hand me that map," said Marianne. She frowned at the route pencilled across it. "I think," she said, "you're about to be disappointed."
    "It's not a big balloon?"
    "Oh censored! I bet the weasel place isn't open either?"
    "What weasel place?"
    "Look! Platzerwasel! That's German for weasel place?! Please tell me that's a weasel place?!"

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    And so to the hills, where Annemiek van Vleuten entirely expectedly turned the Tour de Femmes into three races - Annemiek, daylight, and everyone else. This caused certain problems down at the important end of the race, not least as Pro Cycling Stats and the Tour de Femmes currently disagree as to the top ten and the small matter of how many riders finished the stage within the time cut. Normally I'd suggest that the official website would have the definitive version, but my experience based on La Course suggests this would be an overly optimistic statement of their interest in the race.

    The introduction of proper mountains did however allow a new cast of names to shine, as well as apparently removing several riders who had been high on LR. Nobody seems to be reporting those riders who were outside the official time cut, which raises the intriguing possiblity that they either arrived after the timing gantry was removed - and therefore never officially finished - or that they're still somewhere out on the course.

    Amongst those names to progress were today's top three - Bujak Horseman, John Donne's No Man Is A Ysland, and Toni Braxton's Unbrea-K de Baat. De Baat races into the top three, but the LR is currently sat with Louw after another solid performance. Hannah Ludwig rounds out the top three and cannot be ruled out of contention just yet.

    Join us tomorrow for the plank of the pretty ladies and a potentially fascinating battle for the lanterne, with five riders sat within just over five minutes. Easily gained and lost on the final climb, and with the time cut almost certainly in play as well, this one will go down to the wire.

    Grand balloon:

    102 M. VALLIERES MILL EF EDUCATION-TIBCO-SVB 04h 16' 58'' + 00h 29' 56'' - -
    103 L. KOPECKY TEAM SD WORX 04h 16' 58'' + 00h 29' 56'' - -
    104 S. LEVENEZ COFIDIS WOMEN TEAM 04h 20' 40'' + 00h 33' 38'' - -
    105 A. CHRISTOFOROU HUMAN POWERED HEALTH 04h 22' 22'' + 00h 35' 20'' - -
    106 L. MEERTENS AG INSURANCE-NXTG TEAM 04h 24' 29'' + 00h 37' 27'' - -
    107 I. PLUIMERS AG INSURANCE-NXTG TEAM 04h 25' 00'' + 00h 37' 58'' - -
    108 O. ZABELINSKAYA ROLAND COGEAS EDELWEISS 04h 25' 00'' + 00h 37' 58'' - -
    109 E. BUJAK UAE TEAM ADQ 04h 25' 00'' + 00h 37' 58'' - -
    110 A. YSLAND UNO-X PRO CYCLING TEAM 04h 25' 04'' + 00h 38' 02'' - -
    111 K. DE BAAT PLANTUR-PURA 04h 25' 22'' + 00h 38' 20'' - -

    Big delay:

    102 K. SCHWEINBERGER CERATIZIT - WNT PRO 24h 25' 46'' + 01h 07' 15'' - -
    103 H. BARNES UNO-X PRO CYCLING TEAM 24h 27' 09'' + 01h 08' 38'' - -
    104 R. GAFINOVITZROLAND COGEAS EDELWEISS SQUAD 24h 27' 48'' + 01h 09' 17''
    105 L. WILLIAMS HUMAN POWERED HEALTH 24h 28' 20'' + 01h 09' 49'' - -
    106 O. BARIL VALCAR - TRAVEL & SERVICE 24h 32' 49'' + 01h 14' 18'' - -
    107 N. RÜEGG TEAM JUMBO VISMA 24h 34' 03'' + 01h 15' 32'' - -
    108 A. AVOINE ST-MICHEL AUBER 93 24h 34' 15'' + 01h 15' 44'' - -
    109 H. LUDWIG UNO-X PRO CYCLING TEAM 24h 36' 08'' + 01h 17' 37'' - -
    110 K. DE BAAT PLANTUR-PURA 24h 37' 56'' + 01h 19' 25'' - -
    111 A. LOUW AG INSURANCE-NXTG TEAM 24h 39' 08'' + 01h 20' 37'' - -
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,082
    "Where's Annemiek?" asked Marianne, suspiciously.
    "She's gone ahead," said The Other Lizzie. "She said she wanted to get home in time to watch the football."
    "Football!?" exclaimed Cecilie. "A load of smelly boys running around a field?!"
    "They let girls play too now, you know," said Katarzyna.
    "Gosh," said Demi. "Well that's a bit of a turn up for a gentle pastiche of a 1950s girls' school novel. Whatever next? England winning a tournament?"
    "Well this is still fiction," said Marianne. "It might just about happen here if the readers can suspend their disbelief long enough."
    "censored!" Cecilie suddenly interjected. "You know what this means?"
    "What?" asked the others.
    "We still won't manage to get women's cycling on the flipping back pages, will we?!"

    From The Girls of Pedally Towers and the Grand Tour, by Beryl Blyton

    And so to the final stage, which you might remember had five riders all with a decent shout of taking the title.

    The first shock was a late competitor for the Lanterne, and from a completely unexpected quarter. Annemiek van Vleuten frantically tried to throw time away via a succession of bike changes, but was unable to find the winning combination of rubbing brakes and flat tyres that she so badly needed. Obviously distraught, she took her frustrations out on the road and will have to console herself with the minor honours instead.

    That left our fearsome fivesome to fight their private battle at the right end of the field. The first to crack was the Jumbo Visma rider, who in an eerie echo of the men's GC a couple of years ago found the Rüegg pulled out from underneath her. 76th on the stage left Noemi rounding out the bottom five.

    Hannah Ludwig left contention next, with that troublesome form still causing issues. Having held the lead for a couple of days she'll be disappointed, but no doubt wiser and more exhausted for the experience.

    That leaves our top three, and in third place was Anya Louw from ARGH! Insurance. Going into the final stage with a lead of just over a minute, Louw appears to have ridden far too conservatively to avoid the cut and paid the price. Hopefully as the women's peloton gets more experience of the peculiar "Tour Effect" these sort of freak results will start to disappear, though for now it does at least have the virtue of making every stage meaningful.

    With Ludwig and Louw ruling themselves out of contention, Alison Avoine had an open goal and duly slotted home. Having started fourth on LR this morning I suspect she'll be pleased with the second place whilst wondering what might have been, especially as she got to wear the LR for a stage earlier in the race.

    That leaves quiet Baat person Kim de Baat as the victor of this year's reestablished Lanterne Rouge. Forming an alliance with her fellow countrywoman, the one and only Lone Meertens, de Baat gifted the stage and took the title. A winning time of 1:54 over an eight day stage compares fairly well with this Ewan's 5:40 over 21 stages, and suggests that women's racing is every bit as hard fought as the men's.

    In fact, with several changes of leader and riders continually attacking and counter-attacking, the women's race this year has provided one of the most enjoyable lanterne rouge competitions that I can remember. Whilst the degree to which they're making history can be debated, and perhaps be overstated, the real measure of whether a race is worth watching is whether it makes entertainment - and on that metric the women have delivered in spades.

    Here's to next year's race, those who made it, and to this year's champion, Kim de Baat - my warmest congratulations.

    Lone Meertens:

    100 FORTIN Valentine Cofidis Women Team 23:33
    101 GERRITSE Femke Parkhotel Valkenburg 23:37
    102 GUTIÉRREZ Sheyla Movistar Team 23:48
    103 BIANNIC Aude Movistar Team ,,
    104 ZABELINSKAYA Olga Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 26:02
    105 FAULKNER Kristen Team BikeExchange - Jayco 26:52
    106 BUJAK Eugenia UAE Team ADQ 28:14
    107 AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 28:35
    108 DE BAAT Kim Plantur-Pura 34:31
    109 MEERTENS Lone AG Insurance - NXTG Team ,,

    Group photos:

    100 103 ▲3 BARNES Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 1:31:21
    101 104 ▲3 GAFINOVITZ Rotem Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 1:32:50
    102 87 ▼15 MEERTENS Lone AG Insurance - NXTG Team 1:33:18
    103 99 ▼4 BUJAK Eugenia UAE Team ADQ 1:34:06
    104 106 ▲2 BARIL Olivia Valcar - Travel & Service 1:34:22
    105 107 ▲2 RÜEGG Noemi Team Jumbo-Visma 1:35:37
    106 109 ▲3 LUDWIG Hannah Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 1:38:41
    107 111 ▲4 LOUW Anya AG Insurance - NXTG Team 1:42:00
    108 108 - AVOINE Alison St Michel - Auber93 WE 1:44:29
    109 110 ▲1 DE BAAT Kim Plantur-Pura 1:54:06
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