Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands clinched the Tour de France Femmes on Sunday, bringing home the yellow jersey in the historic race.
The 39-year-old beat out her fellow Dutch rider Demi Vollering by 3 minutes and 48 seconds, with Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma finishing third.
The eight-stage race was the first women’s Tour de France since 1989, serving as a turning point for the sport.
“I’m super proud to be the first winner of the Tour de France for women, of this new version,” Van Vleuten said. “I hope it’s a big start and we can build this into an even bigger event. It’s a milestone to win the first one of, hopefully, many more.”
That she finished the race at all — let alone took the victory — is a testament to her perseverance. She battled through a stomach bug in first half of the week and came close to quitting, the Guardian reported, and she called her win “a little bit of a miracle.”
Forty-four racers from 24 teams competed in the Tour de France Femmes, which kicked off as the men’s race wrapped on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and covered 639 miles in eastern France.
“The real relevance of us having a Tour de France is that now young girls or women in general can turn on the TV and watch women racing for the biggest race in the world,” veteran cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio told Just Women’s Sports. “And that’s when the sport really grows. Because then the depth grows, and suddenly you have young girls who aspire to become pro cyclists.”
The race marks a significant push for progress, but more work still needs to be done, with the competition’s purse a tenth of men’s €2.2 million prize.
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