The most highly anticipated one-day races on the new Women's WorldTour, La Course by Le Tour de France, will kick off on July 24 along the Champs-Elysees in Paris, finishing just ahead of the final day of the Tour de France.
The 12th round of the series offers the women's field a high-speed circuit race along the famed city blocks of Paris, looping around the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. It's a deceptively hard 89km, 13-lap race, held on a course mixed of flat sections, uphill drags and cobbles that make it a tough one-day event.
"Every country has its something special, and the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées is that for France," said Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM), who will be on the start line. "I love racing on the cobblestones in Paris. If you raise your head it's a special view and it's a pleasure to be part of this race."
In it's third edition, organisers of the event, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), announced a 21-team line-up for the event, and on the start line will be former winner Marianne Vos for team Rabo-Liv, world champion Lizzie Armitstead for her team Boels-Dolmans, but notably absent from the start line will be WorldTour leader and Giro Rosa winner Megan Guarnier and defending champion Anna van der Breggen.
Guarnier has extended her lead at the top of the Women's WorldTour rankings following her first Giro Rosa overall victory in July. She leads the standings with 886 points while teammate Elizabeth Armitstead remains in second place on 545 points.
As one of the most anticipated events on the calendar, riders can expect a strong field with teams Orica-AIS, Lensworld-Zannata, Lotto Soudal Ladies, Topsport Vlaanderen – Etixx, Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86, Selection Nationale Francaise, Canyon SRAM Racing , Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team, Ale Cipollini, Bepink, Astana Women's Team, Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team, Team Liv-Plantur, Hitec Products, BTC City Ljubljana, Wiggle High5, USA National Team, Cylance Pro Cycling, Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank and Unitedhealthcare.
"La Course in general is a fast race due to the nature of the course making breakaways challenging to stick. I think it'll be an aggressive race as everyone wants their time to shine. But in the end it'll likely be a bunch kick to the finish when we see those with the strongest trains and those with the fastest, most powerful legs succeed," said Guarischi's teammate Tiffany Cromwell.
Vos won the inaugural edition in 2014, while last year her teammate van der Breggen won the rain-soaked race after holding off the entire chasing pack. Jolien D'hoore (Wiggle Honda) finished second with Amy Pieters (Team Liv-Plantur) in third in the bunch sprint.
Click here for the 2016 La Course by Le Tour de France start list.