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Grande Boucle Feminine (2.2)
 
By Bart Hazen
Date: 6/25/2008
Grande Boucle Feminine (2.2)
 

Grande Boucle Feminine (2.2)
Round up of the Women's tour de France. Seven stages of action - the final victory would be decided on the legendary tour climb of Col de L’Izoard on the final day

The Grande Boucle Feminine was won this weekend by Cervelo-Lifeforce’s Christiane Soeder. The bronze medalist of the 2007 TT Worlds bested team mate Karin Thürig and former team mate Nicole Cooke.

The Grande Boucle Feminin (June 17- 22) is a less demanding continuation of the former Tour de France for women. Diana Ziliute dominated the first stages while Cervelo-Lifeforce dominated in the Time-Trial and the mountains. The race contained seven stages in which one time-trial, two mountain stages and sprint stages.

Stage 1: Gent - Wattrelos, 73.2km
The first stage in the Grande Boucle Feminine was 73,2 km long in distance between Gent and Wattrelos. During the stage the women had to do the climbs, Hoogberg (km 35) and the Kluisberg (km 46).

Jolanta Polikeviciute (USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo) attacked on the hills but didn’t get away. The next to attack (at km 50) was from former world time-trial champion Karin Thürig (Cervelo-Lifeforce). Thürig kept her a gap until about 4 km before the finish; a counter attack was launched by Elisabeth Braam (Team Flexpoint) but her effort proved unsuccessful as the sprinter upped the pace controlling the peloton for the eventual mass finish.

Diana Ziliute (Safi-Pasta Zara) was the fastest ahead of Loes Markerink (Team Flexpoint) and Pascale Schnider (Cervelo-Lifeforce). Ziliute went into the second stage as race leader with the maillot jaune on her shoulders.

Stage 1 Results
1 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 1.51.30
2 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint
3 Pascale Schnider (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team

4 Edita Unguryte (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
5 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
6 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
7 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint
8 Bettina Kuhn (Swi) Swiss National Team
9 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
10 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
11 Paola Munoz (Chi) Pratomagno Colombia
12 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
13 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
14 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing
15 Alessandra Borchi (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan

Stage 2: Wallers - La Louviere, 59.5km
The second stage was from Wallers to La Louviere over 59,5 rolling kilometers. The first escape of the stage came from Grace Verbeke (Lotto-Belisol), Pascale Schnider (Cervelo) and Alessandra Borchi (Safi-Pasta Zara). The early break was without the blessing of the peloton or sprinters and was chased back as was the late attempt by Sarah Düster (Cervelo).

The stage once again, ended in a bunch sprint. This time it was Dutch Loes Markerink (Team Flexpoint) who had the fastest legs at the line. Brit Nicole Cooke finished second and Diana Ziliute third. Due to the time bonuses Markerink slipped into the race leadership and yellow jersey over a tightly packed G.C. after two sprint finishes.

Stage 2 Results
1 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint 1.31.04
2 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing
3 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan

4 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
5 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
6 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
7 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
8 Loes Sels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
9 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
10 Bettina Kuhn (Swi) Swiss National Team
11 Pascale Schnider (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
12 Edita Unguryte (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
13 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
14 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing
15 Tatiana Stiajkina (Ukr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo

Stage 3: La Louviere - Fourmies, 88.9km
The third stage to Fourmies would prove to be more selective with a few climbs in the last quarter of the stage. After 44 km of racing Pascale Schnider (Cervelo) and Bianca Knöpfle (Team Flexpoint) attacked. A few kilometers later they were joined by Evelyn Garcia (USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo), the three worked well together and built a good gap... but, with 22 km to go in the stage Karin Thürig (Cervelo) attacked.

The former World TT Champion got a maximum gap of 26 seconds but was caught by eleven others with 6 km to go. The stage ended up in a sprint with twelve riders of which Diana Ziliute proved the best. For the Lithuanian it was her second stage win in the tour. Nicole Cooke finished a consistent second day in a row and Loes Markerink equally consistent with third place. Ziliute traded the leaders jersey again, off Markerink shoulders.

Stage 3 Result
1 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 2.31.43
2 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing
3 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint

4 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
5 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
6 Bettina Kuhn (Swi) Swiss National Team
7 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
8 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
9 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
10 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint
11 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
12 Evelyn Garcia (ESa) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 0.06
13 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 0.35
14 Jessica Schneeberger (Swi) Swiss National Team
15 Fabienne Sommer (Swi) Swiss National Team

Stage 4: Montdidier - Drancy, 108.5km
The fourth stage from Montdidier to Drancy over 108,5 km was animated by more than a few crashes. Three riders were taken to the hospital namely Carla Ryan and Pascale Schnider (both Cervelo) and Elise Bazourdy (Bourgogne Selection).

The first real break of the day came near the closing kilometers of the stage when Loes Sels (Topsport Vlaanderen) launched an attack with 23 kilometers to go. Sels made a good effort, but only gained 20 seconds on the chase led by Zilute's Zara Pasta team. The brave escapee was denied with 3 km to go as the sprinters trains set up the stage for a sprint finish.

Diana Ziliute once again dominated at the finish taking her third stage, relegating Loes Masrkerink to second. Zilute's fellow Lithuanian, Jolanta Polikevicute finished in third. Again due to the time bonuses Ziliute increased her overall lead on her rivals.

Stage 4 Results
1 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 3.03.27
2 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint
3 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo

4 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
5 Edita Unguryte (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
6 Bettina Kuhn (Swi) Swiss National Team
7 Jessica Schneeberger (Swi) Swiss National Team
8 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint
9 Fabienne Sommer (Swi) Swiss National Team
10 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
11 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team
12 Ine Beyen (Bel) Swift Racing
13 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam
14 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing
15 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint

Stage 5: Domaine De Chalain - Clairvaux-les-Lacs (ITT), 43.3km
The fifth stage a 43,3 km long time-trial in Domaine de Chalain was dominated by the Cervelo-Lifeforce specialist Karin Thürig and Christiane Soeder. Thürig won with a 36 seconds lead on Soeder while Nicole Cooke finished third 2.40 down on the winner. Loes Gunnewijk clocked the fourth best time while race leader Ziliute finished as fifth 3.20 down on Thürig.

Thürig became the new overall leader with a 39 seconds gap on Soeder and 2.35 on Cooke. The 43,3 km long time-trial was the longest time trial in the Grande Boucle history having the desired effect of making a selection before the climbing stages started.

Stage 5 ITT Results
1 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 55.34
2 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 0.36
3 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing 2.40
4 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint 2.41
5 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 3.20
6 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spa) Multijaca 3.30
7 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 3.41
8 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint 3.53
9 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 3.55
10 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint 4.22
11 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 4.39
12 Sereina Trachsel (Swi) Swiss National Team 5.04
13 Bianca Knöpfle (Ger) Team Flexpoint 5.22
14 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 5.38
15 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing 5.47

Stage 6: Lac D'Aiguebelette - Villard-de-Lans, 102.8km
The sixth stage from Lac D’Aiguebelette to Villard-de-Lans over 102,8 km was the first of two concluding mountain stages in the 2008 Grande Boucle Feminine.

Dutch Suzanne van Veen (Team Flexpoint) attacked on the Col du Blanchet (Km 25) and crossed the top with a lead of 18 seconds on Rasa Polikiveciute (USC Chirio) and Priska Doppmann (Cervelo-Lifeforce).

On the descent Van Veen was caught by Polikeviciute who had used her descending skills to chase down the Dutch rider after 40 km in the race. The duo continued to increase their gap that went to 3’40 after 60 km of racing. The pace in the bunch was led by the women of Cervelo-Lifeforce.

25 km before the finish Van Veen  was dropped by Polikeviciute while the bunch was closing in at: 1.40 down on the Lithuanian. With about 20 km to go Van Veen was caught and joined by first Maria del Rosario Rodriguez and not much longer by a chase group of 15.


Karin Thürig in the maillot jaune.
Photo © 2008 Michel Studer

In the final 15 km the gap of Polikeviciute was able to keep her gap and won the stage after an impressive solo. Attacks of Maribel Moreno and Dorte Lohse Rasmussen were not enough to bridge across to the front. 27 seconds later, Diana Ziliute finished second in the uphill sprint ahead of Christiane Soeder who finished third.

Race leader, Karin Thürig finished in sixth 30 seconds down on Polikiviciute and remained in the lead. With only the final stage to Sestriere to go Thürig has 32 seconds on her team mate Soeder and 2.33 on Nicole Cooke. The final G.C. victory would be decided on the legendary tour climb, the Col de L’Izoard

Stage 6 Results
1 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 3.19.15
2 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 0.27
3 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team

4 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing 0.28
5 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 0.30
6 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
7 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spa) Multijaca
8 Sereina Trachsel (Swi) Swiss National Team 0.33
9 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint 0.35
10 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 0.37
11 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
12 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing 0.44
13 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint
14 Evelyn Garcia (ESa) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 0.55
15 Elena Berlato (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 0.48


Priska Doppmann climbs. Photo © 2008 Michel Studer

Stage 7: Guillestre - Sestriere, 83.9km
The seventh and final stage in the Grande Boucle Feminine was 83,9 km long in distance between Guillestre and Sestriere. During the stage the major difficulty, or opportunity was the 2360 meter Col de L’Izoard.

Spanish Champion Maribel Moreno was the first to take command, but she was not able to surprise her rivals with the attack. Another Champion, Swiss champion Sereina Trachsel went over the summit of  the L’Izoard first ahead of Jolanta Polikeviciute, Soeder, Thürig, Cooke and Moreno. The second position secured Jolanta Polikeviciute win in the mountains ranking.

On the descent of the L’Izoard Grace Verbeke (Lotto-Belisol), Diana Ziliute (Safi-Pasta Zara) and Rasa Polikeviciute (USC Chirio) were able to bridge across to the six riders in front. During the descent and on the valley floor, Soeder, Cooke, Jolanta Polikeviciute and Thürig worked to drop their break mates. Spanish Champion Maribel Moreno tried to stay in front but had to drop on the flat section unable to keep the pace.


Christiane Soeder on the attack on the final stage.
Photo © 2008 Michel Studer

In the final 10 km of the race Christiane Soeder and Nicole Cooke attacked. The duo managed to get a maximum gap of around the 1.00. Rivals Polikeviciute and Thürig joined forces and the gap was brought back to 8 seconds with 1 km to go. In the uphill section to the finish in Sestriere Christiane Soeder attacked Cooke and once again, none could follow her furious attack.

Soeder won the stage with a 29 seconds gap on Cooke and 34 seconds on Jolanta Polikeviciute and Karin Thürig. Maribel Moreno rounded off the top 5 coming in at 2.48.

Due to her win, her advantage on Thürig and the time bonuses Christiane Soeder took the yellow jersey and overall victory of the 2008 Grande Boucle Feminine.

Karin Thürig finished as second 12 seconds down on her team mate. Nicole Cooke, who won this event the past two years, is now third. Jolanta Polikeviciute and Maribel Moreno rounded off the top 5.


2008 Podium: Karin Thürig, Christiane Soeder,  & Nicole Cooke
Photo © 2008 Michel Studer

Stage 7 Results
1 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 3.08.05
2 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing 0.29
3 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 0.34

4 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team
5 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spa) Multijaca 2.48
6 Sereina Trachsel (Swi) Swiss National Team 4.58
7 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan
8 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 5.56
9 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo
10 Elena Berlato (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 13.32
11 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint 13.33
12 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing 13.35
13 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint 13.37
14 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 13.40
15 Inma Rafael Salas (Spa) Debabarrena - Kirolgi 18.15


Christiane Soeder with her 2008 Grande Boucle Trophy
Photo © 2008 Michel Studer

2008 Grande Boucle Feminine
General Classification (final)

1 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce 16.21.35
2 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 0.12
3 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Swift Racing 2.29

4 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 5.42
5 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spa) Multijaca 6.35
6 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 7.13
7 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 9.39
8 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 13.58
9 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint 16.01
10 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 17.09
11 Sereina Trachsel (Swi) Swiss National Team 17.42
12 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint 18.00
13 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Swift Racing 19.53
14 Elena Berlato (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 20.47
15 Evelyn Garcia (ESa) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 28.33
16 Eneritz Iturriagaechevarria Mazaga (Spa) Safi/Pasta Zara Manhattan 29.22
17 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 35.15
18 Helen Wyman (GBr) Swift Racing 37.31
19 Laeticia Gil Parra (Spa) Multijaca 37.45
20 Suzanne Van Veen (Ned) Team Flexpoint 37.49
21 Rosario Rodriguez Gomez (Spa) Multijaca 40.15
22 Loes Sels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 43.18
23 Monika Furrer (Swi) Swiss National Team 47.35
24 Emma Silversides (GBr) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 48.16
25 Inma Rafael Salas (Spa) Debabarrena - Kirolgi 49.01
26 Emilie Aubry (Swi) Swiss National Team 50.14
27 Ana Ramirez (Spa) Multijaca 51.41
28 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 51.45
29 Toni Bradshaw (NZl) Swift Racing 52.19
30 Loes Markerink (Ned) Team Flexpoint 53.26
31 Jessica Schneeberger (Swi) Swiss National Team 54.13
32 Paola Munoz (Chi) Pratomagno Colombia 54.44
33 Katrien Van Looy (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson  55.19
34 Bettina Kuhn (Swi) Swiss National Team 59.14
35 Fabienne Sommer (Swi) Swiss National Team 59.30
36 Elizabeth Agudelo (Col) Pratomagno Colombia 1.00.55
37 Debby Van De Berg (Ned) Swift Racing 1.03.18
38 Line Foss (Nor) Bourgogne Selection 1.05.46
39 Sylvie Gaillon (Fra) Bourgogne Selection 1.05.56
40 Alessandra Borchi (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 1.07.45
41 Yolandi Du Toit (RSA) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 1.14.42
42 Saioa Olitc Caluo (Spa) Debabarrena - Kirolgi 1.15.14
43 Kim Schoonbaert (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 1.22.55
44 Odette Bertolin (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 1.29.13
45 Ine Beyen (Bel) Swift Racing 1.30.18
46 Adeline Gourgin (Fra) Bourgogne Selection 1.31.05
47 Patricia Perez Gimenez (Spa) Multijaca 1.41.14
48 Itsaso Leunda Coni (Spa) Debabarrena - Kirolgi 1.41.29
49 Silvia Tirado Marquez (Spa) Multijaca 1.41.45
50 Isabelle Moulis (Fra) Debabarrena - Kirolgi 1.55.27
51 Claire Maugras (Fra) Bourgogne Selection 2.22.39

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