Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) suffered an untimely mechanical on Stage 8 of the Tour de France Femmes that saw her change bikes three times.
The 39-year-old had to swap bikes ahead of the descent of the Cote d’Esmoulieres and, on team-mate Sheyla Gutierrez’s bike, she descended more cautiously than usual.
However, the drama did not end there. Shorn of team-mates – Gutierrez returned to the team car to change bikes – Van Vleuten fell 30 seconds behind the polka dot jersey group of Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and had to chase back on herself.
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But again the drama had not ended as she changed bike a further two times.
At the time of the original issue, Eurosport commentator Marty MacDonald said: “This is no procession into Paris.
“This is a big stage with the mountain-top finish. She herself was very realistic in our interviews on what she can expect from today and [having to] ride defensively.”
Dani Christmas added that riding on a different big bike would impact her ability to descend.
“You can just see the way that she is descending pretty cautiously,” said Christmas.
“She looks a little bit nervous on the bike.”
Van Vleuten re-made contact with the peloton on the climb of the Ballon d’Alsace, and then changed back on to a bike provided to her by the team car – her yellow one, but still not the bike she had started the day on.
In the end, Van Vleuten had to change her bike three times, as revealed by Iris Slappendel in her role on the moto. The changes were as such:
  • Change 1: Issue with the bike – her black model – she started on. Gutierrez dropped back to change her bike for Van Vleuten’s spare. They then swapped bikes.
  • Change 2: Van Vleuten changed to the yellow bike after getting back on the peloton at the base of the Ballon d’Alsace.
  • Change 3: Van Vleuten then changed back on to her original black bike that appeared to have had an issue with its back wheel.

'Finally she is on the right bike' - Van Vleuten changes bike three times as drama hits Stage 8

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