Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) added another victory to her palmares by winning La Course by Le Tour de France. She passed Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) with less than 50 metres to go after a high-speed chase on the descent from the Col de la Colombière. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) finished in third place 1:22 minutes behind the winner.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) opened up proceedings on the penultimate climb, the Col de Romme, attacking solo with 33 kilometres to go. The young Dane stayed ahead for much of the Colombière climb but was eventually caught by an elite trio 2.5km from the top. Moolman-Pasio attacked immediately but could not shake off Van Vleuten and Van der Breggen. Van der Breggen then made her own move with one kilometre left to climb and crested the pass with a ten-second gap on van Vleuten.
Van Vleuten never let the gap grow any bigger and always had van der Breggen in sight on the descent into Le Grand-Bornand. In the final kilometre, van Vleuten used her time trial skills to pace herself well, and when van der Breggen struggled on the steep 200 metres to the line, van Vleuten gave it one last push in a big gear. Van der Breggen faltered, and van Vleuten drew alongside and went past the Olympic champion in the last 50 metres to take a magnificent victory.
Having defended last year's win on the Col d'Izoard, the 35-year-old Dutchwoman was very happy in the winner's TV interview. "Last year was super nice, but this was a great race. It was unbelievable. With 200 metres to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her fighting, and to win like this … I know I am in good shape, but Anna van der Breggen is also a really good cyclist, so it was a really tough ride. Beautiful."
Van Vleuten explained that she never lost faith in herself. "The gap was really small, and I know she is also a very good descender, but I always keep on dreaming and believing in myself. I could have given up with 500 metres to go, but I kept going. Always believe, everything is possible. This one is really beautiful, I think. I won on the Izoard last year, I won the Giro Rosa last week, and this one, in this way, is really high on my list."
How it unfolded
Organised by the ASO and held on the same day as stage 10 of the men's Tour de France, the prestigious La Course also used much of the course of the men's stage on its 112.5-kilometre route from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand. Most importantly, the women also raced the last 55km with two category 1 climbs, the Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombière, and the fast descent into the finishing town.
Starting early in the morning, the women's peloton went on a long neutral section along the western shore of Lac d'Annecy before the real start outside Duingt. No moves got away on the first 35km, although the category 4 Côte de Bluffy significantly thinned out the peloton.
On the category 2 Côte de Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, a group of four riders took flight. Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb), Malgorzata Jasinska (Movistar Team), Leah Thomas (UnitedHealthcare), and Anna Christian (Trek-Drops) were joined by Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) after the Finnish sprinter bridged to the break on her own.
Together, these five riders built a gap of around two minutes on the peloton that was led by Boels Dolmans and Mitchelton-Scott. Christian was dropped from the break halfway into the race, Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) bridged to her, and the two formed a chase duo in between the peloton and the front quartet for a while but were eventually caught.
Going into the Col de Romme, the peloton was led by Team Sunweb and Canyon-SRAM. The break held an advantage of 1:23 minutes at the foot of the climb but soon disintegrated as the four escapees rode uphill according to their abilities.
The 8.8-kilometre Col de Romme with an average gradient of 8.9 per cent whittled down the peloton to twenty riders while Leah Thomas emerged as the strongest climber in the break and was leading solo halfway up the climb.
Five kilometres from the mountain sprint and 33 kilometres from the finish, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) opened up proceedings by attacking from the group of favourites on a stretch that climbed 10 per cent. The 22-year-old Dane quickly passed the remnants of the breakaway, Kirchmann and Thomas, who had built a 30-second advantage over the favourites' group at the top of the climb. Three kilometres from the top of the climb, Giro Rosa mountain classification winner Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) had tried an acceleration in the group of favourites, but had Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) and Moolman-Pasio on her wheel in a matter of seconds and sat down again.
Ludwig increased her gap on the descent and started the Col de la Colombière 1:07 minutes on Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) who had attacked on the downhill and was 1:45 minutes ahead of the group of favourites. One kilometre into the 7.5-kilometre, 8.5 per cent climb, Spratt attacked again and was followed by Moolman-Pasio and Margarita Victoria Garcia (Movistar Team). Guarnier was late to respond but made it to the other three after a quick chase. When Guarnier had just bridged across, Van Vleuten also increased the pace, reeling the four riders in again.
At the 20 kilometre mark, Ludwig still enjoyed a lead of 1:25 minutes. In the favourites' group, Garcia made a move and stayed a few seconds ahead of the group for 500 metres. When Garcia was almost caught, it was time for Van der Breggen to put in her first attack. Van Vleuten and Moolman-Pasio were the only ones who could follow the Olympic champion whose acceleration blew the group apart into twos and threes.
Van der Breggen, Van Vleuten, and Moolman-Pasio rode up to Brand and took a short breather, allowing Ludwig to keep her advantage stable at 55 seconds. Van Vleuten attacked with just under 4km to go to the mountain sprint, and though Van der Breggen and Moolman-Pasio could follow, Brand was left behind and Ludwig's advantage was quickly reduced by 20 seconds.
The gap then stabilised again at just over 30 seconds for a while, but the pace of Van Vleuten and Van der Breggen brought the Danish climber back with 1.3 km to the top. Moolman-Pasio attacked the second her teammate was caught, but her acceleration only meant that Ludwig had no chance of staying with the three favourites as Van Vleuten and Van der Breggen kept up easily.
Van der Breggen pushed the pace even harder on the last kilometre of climbing, opening a gap first on Moolman-Pasio and then on Van Vleuten who looked as if she was struggling after a hard, ten-day Giro Rosa. At the mountain sprint, Van der Breggen was eight seconds ahead of Van Vleuten, with Moolman-Pasio another seven seconds back.
Van Vleuten never let the gap grow to more than fifteen seconds on the descent into Le Grand-Bornand and always had van der Breggen in sight while Moolman-Pasio did not descend as well as the two Dutchwomen and gradually lost ground. After the descent, there were still 2.5 flat kilometres to the finish, with the final kilometre slightly uphill and including a steep kick on the last 200 metres.
Van der Breggen pedalled smoothly on the flat part while Van Vleuten pushed a slightly higher gear with all her might, rocking back and forth. The Giro Rosa champion had closed the gap to only four seconds under the flamme rouge, but Van der Breggen looked like the winner as she held onto this narrow advantage.
But Van der Breggen faltered on the final kick to the line, slumping down in her saddle while Van Vleuten went all-out in one last attempt to close the gap. Van der Breggen's pedalling still looked smooth compared to Van Vleuten's, but the Mitchelton-Scott rider came closer with every metre and passed Van der Breggen on the last 20 metres to take a magnificent victory.
Moolman-Pasio finished third 1:22 minutes later, Ludwig could celebrate her fourth place after a strong performance 1:58 minutes after the winner. Guarnier won the sprint for fifth place from a group of seven 2:19 minutes back. With her second place, Van der Breggen defends her lead in the UCI Women's WorldTour standings, ahead of Van Vleuten and Spratt in second and third place. The race series continues with the Prudential RideLondon Classique on Saturday, 28 July.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott Women||3:20:43|
|2||Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:00:01|
|3||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:01:22|
|4||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:01:58|
|5||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:02:19|
|6||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|7||Katharine Hall (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women||0:02:22|
|8||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women|
|9||Ane Santesteban (Spa) Ale Cipollini||0:02:24|
|10||Erica Magnaldi (Ita) BePink|
|11||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:02:29|
|12||Nikola Nosková (Cze) BePink||0:03:03|
|13||Margarita Victoria Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team Women||0:03:35|
|14||Brodie Chapman (Aus) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:05:14|
|15||Edwige Pitel (Fra) Cogeas||0:05:24|
|16||Paulien Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team||0:05:42|
|17||Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Drops||0:05:46|
|18||Urska Pintar (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana||0:05:52|
|19||Omer Shapira (Isr) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:06:01|
|20||Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb Women||0:06:50|
|21||Grace Brown (Aus) Wiggle High5||0:07:04|
|22||Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:07:07|
|23||Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|24||Leah Thomas (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women||0:07:10|
|25||Eider Merino (Spa) Movistar Team Women||0:07:28|
|26||Mariia Novolodskaya (Rus) Cogeas||0:07:57|
|27||Urska Zigart (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana||0:09:11|
|28||Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:09:37|
|29||Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies|
|30||Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team|
|31||Antri Christoforou (Cyp) Cogeas|
|32||Lorena Llamas (Spa) Movistar Team Women||0:09:42|
|33||Asja Paladin (Ita) Valcar PBM||0:09:44|
|34||Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team||0:09:45|
|35||Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Astana Women's Team||0:12:04|
|36||Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Movistar Team Women||0:12:05|
|37||Juliette Labous (Fra) Team Sunweb Women|
|38||Victorie Guilman (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|39||Sheyla Gutierrez (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:12:08|
|40||Elizaveta Oshurkova (Rus) Cogeas|
|41||Anabelle Dreville (Fra) Lotto Soudal Ladies||0:12:11|
|42||Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:13:59|
|43||Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|44||Elise Chabbey (Swi) Cogeas||0:15:20|
|45||Emma Grant (GBr) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:15:36|
|46||Danielle Rowe (GBr) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team||0:15:42|
|47||Kelly Van Den Steen (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies|
|48||Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Sunweb Women|
|49||Riejanne Markus (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team|
|50||Daiva Ragazinskiene (Ltu) Ale Cipollini|
|51||Anouska Koster (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team|
|52||Lourdes Jimenez (Spa) Movistar Team Women|
|53||Liliana Moreno (Col) Astana Women's Team|
|54||Kathrin Hammes (Ger) Trek-Drops|
|55||Nicole Hanselmann (Swi) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team|
|56||Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek-Drops|
|57||Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team|
|58||Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|59||Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|60||Rozanne Slik (Ned) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|61||Ruth Winder (USA) Team Sunweb Women|
|62||Elizabeth Banks (GBr) UnitedHealthcare Women||0:16:32|
|OTL||Jessica Allen (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women|
|DNF||Jenelle Crooks (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women|
|OTL||Sarah Roy (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women|
|OTL||Eri Yonamine (Jpn) Wiggle High5|
|OTL||Elinor Barker (GBr) Wiggle High5|
|DNF||Grace Garner (GBr) Wiggle High5|
|DNF||Lucy Garner (GBr) Wiggle High5|
|DNF||Macey Stewart (Aus) Wiggle High5|
|OTL||Charlotte Bravard (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|OTL||Maëlle Grossetete (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|OTL||Kathryn Buss (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|OTL||Alice Cobb (GBr) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|OTL||Ingrid Drexel (Mex) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|OTL||Shannon Malseed (Aus) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|DNF||Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana|
|OTL||Olena Pavlukhina (Aze) BTC City Ljubljana|
|DNF||Mia Radotic (Cro) BTC City Ljubljana|
|OTL||Lotta Pauliina Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team|
|OTL||Marie Vilmann (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Karlijn Swinkels (Ned) Ale Cipollini|
|DNF||Anna Trevisi (Ita) Ale Cipollini|
|DNF||Liane Lippert (Ger) Team Sunweb Women|
|DNF||Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|OTL||Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|OTL||Tanja Erath (Ger) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|DNF||Leah Thorvilson (USA) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|OTL||Trixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon-SRAM Racing|
|DNF||Jelena Eric (Srb) Cylance Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Letizia Borghesi (Ita) BePink|
|OTL||Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) BePink|
|OTL||Katia Ragusa (Ita) BePink|
|OTL||Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) BePink|
|DNF||Caro Rodríguez (Mex) Astana Women's Team|
|OTL||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kaz) Astana Women's Team|
|OTL||Lara Vieceli (Ita) Astana Women's Team|
|OTL||Isabelle Beckers (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies|
|DNS||Valerie Demey (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies|
|OTL||Rushlee Buchanan (NZl) Unitedhealthcare Women|
|OTL||Lauretta Hanson (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Women|
|OTL||Janelle Cole (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women|
|OTL||Alicia Gonzalez (Spa) Movistar Team Women|
|OTL||Anna Christian (GBr) Trek-Drops|
|DNF||Hannah Payton (GBr) Trek-Drops|
|OTL||Elizabeth Holden (GBr) Trek-Drops|
|OTL||Dalia Muccioli (Ita) Valcar PBM|
|OTL||Silvia Pollicini (Ita) Valcar PBM|
|OTL||Alessia Vigilia (Ita) Valcar PBM|
|OTL||Chiara Zanettin (Ita) Valcar PBM|
|DNF||Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) Valcar PBM|
|DNF||Evgenia Augustinas (Rus) Cogeas|