Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course

Dutchwoman pips Van der Breggen at the last

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.
 

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott Women3:20:43 
2Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:00:01 
3Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team0:01:22 
4Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team0:01:58 
5Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:02:19 
6Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
7Katharine Hall (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women0:02:22 
8Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women  
9Ane Santesteban (Spa) Ale Cipollini0:02:24 
10Erica Magnaldi (Ita) BePink  
11Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb Women0:02:29 
12Nikola Nosková (Cze) BePink0:03:03 
13Margarita Victoria Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team Women0:03:35 
14Brodie Chapman (Aus) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank0:05:14 
15Edwige Pitel (Fra) Cogeas0:05:24 
16Paulien Rooijakkers (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team0:05:42 
17Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Drops0:05:46 
18Urska Pintar (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana0:05:52 
19Omer Shapira (Isr) Cylance Pro Cycling0:06:01 
20Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb Women0:06:50 
21Grace Brown (Aus) Wiggle High50:07:04 
22Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope0:07:07 
23Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
24Leah Thomas (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women0:07:10 
25Eider Merino (Spa) Movistar Team Women0:07:28 
26Mariia Novolodskaya (Rus) Cogeas0:07:57 
27Urska Zigart (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana0:09:11 
28Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope0:09:37 
29Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
30Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
31Antri Christoforou (Cyp) Cogeas  
32Lorena Llamas (Spa) Movistar Team Women0:09:42 
33Asja Paladin (Ita) Valcar PBM0:09:44 
34Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team0:09:45 
35Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Astana Women's Team0:12:04 
36Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Movistar Team Women0:12:05 
37Juliette Labous (Fra) Team Sunweb Women  
38Victorie Guilman (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
39Sheyla Gutierrez (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling0:12:08 
40Elizaveta Oshurkova (Rus) Cogeas  
41Anabelle Dreville (Fra) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:12:11 
42Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling0:13:59 
43Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
44Elise Chabbey (Swi) Cogeas0:15:20 
45Emma Grant (GBr) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank0:15:36 
46Danielle Rowe (GBr) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team0:15:42 
47Kelly Van Den Steen (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
48Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Sunweb Women  
49Riejanne Markus (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team  
50Daiva Ragazinskiene (Ltu) Ale Cipollini  
51Anouska Koster (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team  
52Lourdes Jimenez (Spa) Movistar Team Women  
53Liliana Moreno (Col) Astana Women's Team  
54Kathrin Hammes (Ger) Trek-Drops  
55Nicole Hanselmann (Swi) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
56Eva Buurman (Ned) Trek-Drops  
57Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team  
58Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
59Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam  
60Rozanne Slik (Ned) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
61Ruth Winder (USA) Team Sunweb Women  
62Elizabeth Banks (GBr) UnitedHealthcare Women0:16:32 
OTLJessica Allen (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women  
DNFJenelle Crooks (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women  
OTLSarah Roy (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women  
OTLEri Yonamine (Jpn) Wiggle High5  
OTLElinor Barker (GBr) Wiggle High5  
DNFGrace Garner (GBr) Wiggle High5  
DNFLucy Garner (GBr) Wiggle High5  
DNFMacey Stewart (Aus) Wiggle High5  
OTLCharlotte Bravard (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
OTLMaëlle Grossetete (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope  
OTLKathryn Buss (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
OTLAlice Cobb (GBr) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
OTLIngrid Drexel (Mex) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
OTLShannon Malseed (Aus) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFEugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana  
OTLOlena Pavlukhina (Aze) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFMia Radotic (Cro) BTC City Ljubljana  
OTLLotta Pauliina Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
OTLMarie Vilmann (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
DNFKarlijn Swinkels (Ned) Ale Cipollini  
DNFAnna Trevisi (Ita) Ale Cipollini  
DNFLiane Lippert (Ger) Team Sunweb Women  
DNFPauline Ferrand-Prévot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
OTLElena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
OTLTanja Erath (Ger) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
DNFLeah Thorvilson (USA) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
OTLTrixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon-SRAM Racing  
DNFJelena Eric (Srb) Cylance Pro Cycling  
DNFLetizia Borghesi (Ita) BePink  
OTLTatiana Guderzo (Ita) BePink  
OTLKatia Ragusa (Ita) BePink  
OTLSilvia Valsecchi (Ita) BePink  
DNFCaro Rodríguez (Mex) Astana Women's Team  
OTLNatalya Saifutdinova (Kaz) Astana Women's Team  
OTLLara Vieceli (Ita) Astana Women's Team  
OTLIsabelle Beckers (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNSValerie Demey (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
OTLRushlee Buchanan (NZl) Unitedhealthcare Women  
OTLLauretta Hanson (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Women  
OTLJanelle Cole (USA) Unitedhealthcare Women  
OTLAlicia Gonzalez (Spa) Movistar Team Women  
OTLAnna Christian (GBr) Trek-Drops  
DNFHannah Payton (GBr) Trek-Drops  
OTLElizabeth Holden (GBr) Trek-Drops  
OTLDalia Muccioli (Ita) Valcar PBM  
OTLSilvia Pollicini (Ita) Valcar PBM  
OTLAlessia Vigilia (Ita) Valcar PBM  
OTLChiara Zanettin (Ita) Valcar PBM  
DNFIlaria Sanguineti (Ita) Valcar PBM  
DNFEvgenia Augustinas (Rus) Cogeas  

 

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