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The seventh running of the La Course by Le Tour de France start list is a whos-who of elite women’s cycling. Two-time La Course winners Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Marianne Vos (CCC Team), former world champion Lizzy Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) who is fresh off a win at the GP de Plouay, and Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling) — who won this race in 2016 — will captain their respective teams when they line up for this Saturday race.
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Marianne Vos, with La Course wins last year and in 2014, has expressed confidence and that she feels this year’s parcours suits her well.
“Last year’s was a fantastic win for me personally. After the first time on the Champs-Elysées, it was a different course but the same sensations and feelings crossing the line,” the Dutchwoman said. “The course [this year] does not seem to be made for a specific type of rider. It’s not for the sprinters, it’s not for the climbers, it gives possibilities for a breakaway, it gives possibilities even for a sprinter if she survives but also the stronger climbers or classics riders can make a difference.”
La Course’s 96-kilometer course, which uses part of the route from the men’s race, will be raced along two large loops. It starts along the Mediterranean coast and heads north toward the category 3 Côte de Rimiez, located just 8 km into the race.
Lizzie Deignan, fresh from her third victory in the Grand Prix de Plouay, commented, “I think it’s actually a good course, a good racing course, I know Annemiek [van Vleuten] was very vocal by saying it was not a WorldTour level [route] but this year was an easy year for ASO to back out from having a woman’s race, and I’m pleased that there’s still a race”.
Race director Jean-Marc Marino is confident that the 7th edition of La Course will be exciting to watch and he warns that tactics, more than strength, will be the key on the 96-km course designed in the hills around Nice.
“It’s a pretty hard course at first, with a 5.5-km climb (Côte de Rimiez) at 5 percent and then it goes on climbing. It’s the Nice hinterland and we know how bumpy it is. Then there is a really steep descent — very technical — and then 20 km on the flat,” said Marino. “We can expect a big battle in the climbs. The big question is whether a sprinter can survive or whether a breakaway can go all the way. We noticed in the past that if we made too hard a course, it was always the same [women] who won. This time, it might not be the strongest who wins, but certainly the most clever,” he added.
La Course by Le Tour de France start list:
CCC – LIV
FDJ Nouvelle – Aquitaine Futuroscope
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
Annemiek Van Vleuten
Leigh Ann Ganzar
Canyon // SRAM Racing
Trek – Segafredo
Elisa Longo Borghini
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
Jip van den Bos
Chantal van den Broek-blaak
Movistar Team Women
Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling Team
Ane Santesteban Gonzalez
Ale’ BTC Ljubljana
Valcar – Travel & Service
Équipe Paule Ka
Maria Vittoria Sperotto
Team Tibco – Silicon Valley Bank
HiTec Products – Birk Sport
Lucy Van Der Haar
Fatima El Hayani
Nancy Van Der Burg
Astana Women’s Team
Arlenis Sierra Canadilla
Charente – Maritime Women Cycling
Aromitalia – Basso Bikes – Vaiano
Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team
Marie Soleil Blais
Bizkaia – Durango