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La Course: Deignan edges out Vos in sprint finish

Trek-Segafredo make numbers count as Deignan and Longo-Borghini work together to deny Vos.

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Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) won La Course by Le Tour de France from a reduced bunch sprint Saturday.

The British rider responded to Marianne Vos‘ (CCC-Liv) stinging early acceleration in the final 200-meters of the one-day race, bridging onto the Dutchwoman’s wheel and edging past her by a tire’s width. Deignan’s sprint came perfectly-timed as Vos began to fade having made her move from so far out.

Vos took second and Demi Vollering (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) finished third.

The win was Deignan’s first at La Course, adding to a prestigious palmarès that already includes a world title and numerous major one-day races.

“It’s really special to win here,” Deignan said. “I know that my husband and daughter are watching on television –  I can’t wait to pick up the phone and speak with them.”

“I think I had an advantage that I had two of the best sprinters in the world in the team car in [sport directors] Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Giorgia Bronzini – they’ve both beaten Marianne Vos in lots of sprints. I had their best advice and their advice was: ‘patience.’ So I took it and waited.”

Deignan’s victory comes off the back of a roller-coaster restart to the race season, having crashed out of three of her past six races, but rallying to win GP Plouay earlier this week.

“It’s phenomenal to win this,” she said. “Sometimes when you’re training hard and things aren’t going your way, it’s really frustrating, now finally it feels the luck is on our side. To be part of Trek-Segafredo is the best feeling because it’s a team victory.”

Annamiek van Vleuten had forced the selection with a move midway through the 96-kilometer race, attacking up the Rimiez climb to draw out the six that would play out the final.

The world champion’s move pulled out a who’s-who of riders she likely had not wished to be left with, with super-sprinter Vos and Trek-Segafredo pair Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini still in contact, along with Vollering and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM).

The world champion applied her big motor through the dragging climb but was unable to split the group. Deignan was the first to roll the dice and come off Van Vleuten’s wheel, putting in a fierce attack over the summit of the climb with 30km to go, but the group remained together.

Van Vleuten forced the selection. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images.
Van Vleuten forced the selection. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images.

With a flat 20km run-in to the city center finish, a group of around 20 chased hard behind the attackers on the wide, fast roads, with Sunweb leading the charge. Despite the pace-setting in the group behind, the leaders rotated well through the long highway drag back into Nice, stretching their advantage to toward two minutes.

Coming into the final 3km, the Trek-Segafredo duo started to pile on the pressure as they looked to work their numerical advantage and shed sprint threat Vos. With Deignan and her Dutch rival the two fastest-finishers in the bunch, Longo Borghini repeatedly attacked, forcing Vos to respond as Deignan marked her wheel.

Van Vleuten attacked in the final kilometer, anticipating that she would not take victory from a sprint, but was unable to make the gap.

With 200 meters to go, Vos launched her massive early sprint and looked to have distanced the pack. However, Deignan was able to drag herself onto Vos’ wheel just as the CCC-Liv rider began to fade, and edged past to win by the finest of margins.

“It was such a relief that I won it,” Deignan said after the race. “What a performance from Trek-Segafredo today, every single rider played their part, then me and Elisa only had to wait for the finale and she did the perfect job: she forced Marianne to sprint early and I took advantage of that.”

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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