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JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Annemiek van Vleuten wins 2022 Tour de France Femmes
The 39-year-old athlete emerged victorious on Sunday at Super Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges, finishing the race more than three minutes ahead of the runner-up Demi Vollering, a fellow countrywoman. In third place was Poland's Katarzyna "Kasia" Niewiadoma.
Prior to her win, Van Vleuten told reporters she was feeling under the weather, and dealing with a debilitating stomach issue. According to VeloNews, the cyclist took a handful of breaks to use the bathroom on stages two and three and told reporters she was "super close" to quitting the race.
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"It's a little bit of a miracle," the cyclist said of her win after the eighth and final stage of the race.
🏁 🇳🇱@AvVleuten claims the win in La Super Planche des Belles Filles and wins the #TDFF!💛
🍿 Relive the last kilometre of stage 8.
🏁 🇳🇱@AvVleuten s’impose à La Super Planche des Belles Filles et remporte le #TDFF !💛
🍿 Revivez le dernier de la dernière étape.#WatchTheFemmes pic.twitter.com/WgOqRgON4l
— Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (@LeTourFemmes) July 31, 2022
Van Vleuten called her sickness "a bad situation" and revealed that teammates had to help her pack her suitcase. "My teammates had to push me also all the time, so I was really in a bad situation," said the cyclist.
After the win, van Vleuten told Yahoo Sports, "It was not an easy stage. It was not an easy week. It's been a super-big rollercoaster for me, and even today it was not easy. To finish here, solo, it's the best way."
The 2022 edition of the Tour de France Femmes was the first in 33 years. While the highly celebrated men's race happens each year, there hadn't been a women's version since 1989. After years of pushing to reboot the event, organizers were finally able to find a sponsor and put on the 2022 race.
"I'm super proud to be the first winner of the Tour de France for the women when it's back on the calendar, in this new version, Van Vleuten said. "I hope it's a big start, and we can build this event into a bigger event for women. It's a milestone to win this first one."
The tour impressed Van Vleuten from the start. On Tuesday, she said, "It's exceeding my expectations, the Tour de France Femmes. Especially it's exceeding on how it's organized. I really want to shout out to the organization."
And much like the men's event, the Tour de France Femmes had a few major moments that drew headlines. On Thursday, 16 cyclists on the tour were injured after a chaotic crash involving almost half of the participants. The riders suffered injuries that included "cuts, scrapes, abrasions and bruises," according to Cycling News.
"It was chaotic, people were screaming everywhere, and mechanics, directors and doctors came running," cyclist Magdeleine Vallieres Mill told the publication.
At least one woman, Danish cyclist Emma Norsgaard, required medical attention, but has since reported that she's okay. She suffered trauma to her head, shoulder and cervical vertebra and was transported to the hospital for evaluation, per the cycling outlet.
The accident happened on a straight road, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) from the end of the 109-mile (175 km) stage, which is one of the flattest of the Tour, according to CNN. "It was a crash, it was a slow day, a long day. Someone touches a wheel and they crash, it's like the guys, it's like the Tour de France," Trek-Segafredo head director Ina Teutenberg told Cycling News.