Route De France 2008
Rouen - Rouen 98.3km
Luise Keller (Team Columbia) had not worn a stage race leader's jersey before this tour. She finished in the best possible position - overall winner. The twice German RR Champion is small, but powerful and stamped her authority on the Route De France by winning the individual time trial - stage 6. This was after she broke away solo on Stage 3 to win the stage and take the jersey, which she wore through to the finish Team Columbia dominated the event, winning stages, winning the team competition and wearing the leader's jersey on all but one of the stages.
Magali Macquery (Équipe Nord Est) was most aggressive rider on the stage, breaking away early and staying away over the first main climb. Team Columbia were attentive to the moves, though, and brought the race back together before the peloton returned to Rouen for 4 laps of a finishing circuit. It was a procession worthy of merit, too. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg led the bunch through the start / finish line each time, followed by her team-mates, with Luise Keller sitting at the back of their line, simply trying to finish to safely in the bunch and take her crown in style.
Teutenberg had won three stages of this race already and worn the leader's jersey too. She was clearly not working for herself by spending so much time on the front in the closing kilometres. Waiting calmly at the back of the Columbia train near Keller was another team-mate, Swede, Emilia Fahlin. With a lap to go, Titanedi-Frezza began moving forwards, placing Giorgia Bronzini in position for the sprint.
When it came to it a few kilometres later, the young Swedish RR Champion did not have the legs against the speed of Bronzini. Bronzini timed her sprint to perfection and didn't give up. She was still accelerating, having passed Fahlin and in chase Monia Baccaille (Fenixs) who was at the front and sprinting hard in the final 100m. Baccaille later told journalists that she had looked right, seen Fahlin beaten and not looked left. Had she done so, she might have seen Bronzini approaching under her left shoulder. As it was, Baccaille sat up well be fore the lien and gave a victory salute. Just as her arms reached vertical, Bronzini came past and the Italian realised her error. Bronzini carried on accelerating and began her own victory celebration just a few metres before the finishing line. Baccaille coasted in second and Fahlin third.
Daiva Tuslaite (Michela Fanini) won the young rider competition and Rosane Kirch (Michela Fanini) took the mountains competition.
"I'm really happy to win my first stage race, said winner, Luise Keller. "It was a really nice race and I found out what it feels like to be a GC rider. I didn't have to do anything after I got the yellow jersey except eat and drink. My team mates did everything else."
Team director Ronny Lauke was extremely happy with the whole race. "It was amazing," he said. "The girls rode really well together and came up with a very exciting victory."
"It was also very rewarding for me as this is my first tour win as a director in women's cycling," he added.
1 Giorgia Bronzini (Titanedi-Frezza)
2 Monia Baccaille (Fenixs)
3 Emilia Fahlin (Team Columbia)
1 Luise Keller (Team Columbia)
2 Rosane Kirch (Michela Fanini) @ 2'19"
3 Edwige Pitel (Pro Team Les Carroz) @ 2'25"
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