Spratt leaves Tour de France after crash

Amanda Spratt’s shocking luck continues, with the Australian cycling star forced to withdraw from the Tour de France Femmes because of injury.

Her latest setback after a crash in stage two comes as a media report stunningly claimed Spratt would leave BikeExchange-Jayco, her only professional team, at the end of the of the season.

Spratt was one of the casualties in the crash chaos that marked the end of Monday’s second stage and she lost nearly 10 minutes.

“Not how I imagined my TdF ending,” Spratt tweeted.

“Feels like one thing after another at the moment. I finished the stage after a crash and hard impact, but woke up not being able to move well or breathe properly. I need time to recover now.”

Spratt also hit the deck during stage one in Paris.

Earlier this month she was in the top 10 overall at the Giro d’Italia Donne, another major race, when COVID-19 forced her out.

Also, Spratt is returning to top form after major surgery late last year to fix Iliac artery endofibrosis, a condition that has afflicted several professional cyclists.

“Luckily, no broken bones, but with the pain she’s in and the lack of movement, she’s not capable of going on the bike today,” team director Martin Vestby said.

“That’s sad for Spratty, she’s had a lot of bad luck lately and this comes on top of it, in the biggest race of the season.”

Separately, Spratt’s management declined to comment on the report on her future, from respected cycling media website VeloNews.

It would be a stunning development if true, given the 34-year-old’s loyalty to the squad.

A BikeExchange-Jayco spokesman said they are unaware of her plans.

The story emerged only a day after team owner, prominent Australian sports benefactor Gerry Ryan, confirmed he would continue

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Lizzie Deignan believes first women’s Tour de France reflects change in society

Lizzie Deignan believes the launch of the Tour de France Femmes reflects a bigger change in society (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Lizzie Deignan believes the launch of the Tour de France Femmes reflects a bigger change in society (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan believes this weekend’s launch of the first Tour de France Femmes reflects a “turning point in society” as demands for women’s equality are heard.

The first proper women’s Tour de France, an eight-day race which will conclude on La Super Planche des Belles Filles on July 31, will begin in Paris this Sunday, a few hours before the men’s race rolls into town.

Since 2014, the Amaury Sports Organisation who run the Tour had staged La Course, a one or two-day race which Deignan won in 2020, but the event attracted much criticism for being “tokenistic”.

The fact demands for a proper event have finally been answered is, Deignan believes, representative of broader changes.

“I think we’re at a turning point in society in terms of women’s equality,” Deignan told the PA news agency. “There’s a continuous fight that will never stop but I think the age of social media has made people more accountable.

People are able to call out inequalities more easily so women have got more of their own voice to be able to challenge things.

“Whenever a race has been badly organised or not at all, there has been a backlash.”

Backed by virtual cycling platform Zwift, the Tour de France Femmes will offer 250,000 euros (£213,000) in prize money to the 144 women who will race over 1,029 kilometres in eight days.

The fight for yellow will come down to the final weekend in the mountains but before then riders will tackle gravel on stage four, and a 176km long stage five from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-die-des-Vosges which is the longest day to ever feature in the

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Lorena Wiebes gets yellow jersey as inaugural Tour de France Femmes starts

Lorena Wiebes pulled on the first yellow jersey of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes after beating Marianne Vos in a sprint finish to the opening stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Vos had been on the attack first after her Jumbo-Visma team led the peloton out of the final corner, but Team DSM’s Wiebes held back and launched herself forward at the right moment to beat her fellow Dutchwoman to the line.

It was a 16th victory of the season for Wiebes, the standout sprinter in the peloton right now, but certainly the most significant in this much anticipated new race – with the might of Tour de France organisers the Amaury Sports Organisation finally behind a proper women’s edition of the famous race.

Tour de France Women Cycling

Lorena Wiebes, 23, explained she took a friend’s baby on to the podium ‘as a bet’ (Daniel Cole/AP)

“I’m really happy that I was finally able to race on the Champs-Elysees,” said the 23-year-old, who delivered on her status as the pre-stage favourite.

“As expected it was a hard race. It feels really special to ride here in Paris and even more special to wear the yellow jersey.

“I was fine with the pressure because I directly put the most pressure on myself.”

One hundred and forty-four riders signed on in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower before completing 12 laps of a circuit up and down the famed cobbles of the Champs-Elysees.

In 2014 a similar route was used for the inaugural La Course, the one-day women’s race organised by ASO but much criticised for being tokenistic. Three-time world champion Vos, 35, won it that day but had to accept second place to a rider 12 years her junior this time.

Several riders, no doubt inspired by the occasion, had attempted breakaways but

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