Race organisers ASO revealed limited details of their Women’s WorldTour one-day race La Course by Le Tour de France. The race will shift away from the route that boasted a mountainous race from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand this year to a hilly circuit race in Pau that is more suited to the puncheurs of the peloton.
The UCI announced the 23 events that would make up the 2019 Women's WorldTour in June, where La Course by Le Tour de France was initially listed as "to be confirmed" on the July 23 date, but it seems likely that date could change given Thursday's announcement.
The July 23 date does not currently align with the Tour de France stage 13 in Pau. The ASO revealed the men's Grand Tour route at the Palais des Congrès in Paris on Thursday, with the 27km individual time in Pau scheduled for July 19. On July 23, the Tour de France's stage 16 takes place in Nimes, some 500km away from Pau. Logistically, however, it seems likely that the ASO would want to hold both races using the same infrastructure on the earlier date.
Conflicting races on the Women's WorldTour calendar this year caused some problems for race organisers, such as the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race and Emakumeen Bira, that overlapped. The UCI told Cyclingnews that it aimed to avoid such conflicts for the 2019 season.
Next summer, the biggest stage race for women – Giro Rosa – will take place from July 5-14. There is room for La Course to move to a July 19 slot without conflicting with the Giro Rosa, and it would then align with stage 13 of the Tour de France in Pau. The July 19 date would, however, overlap with the UCI 2.1-ranked BeNe Ladies Tour.
Cyclingnews has reached out to ASO and the UCI for comment to confirm the date of La Course, but at the time of publication received no reply.
Punchy circuit race in Pau
In a press release posted on the Tour de France website, ASO provide some brief details about the 2019 La Course race.
The women will race along a circuit, the same course as the men's 27km time trial. They will complete five laps for a total of 120km. The route will include a climb over the Côte d’Esquillot, making the circuit a challenge but one that could suit the one-day Classics specialists and possibly even the sprinters.
"After the sprinters on the Champs-Elysées, the climbers on the Col de l’Izoard pass, and then at Grand-Bornand, this time the puncheurs will be in the limelight," read a statement on the Tour de France website.
La Course by Le Tour de France was established by ASO in 2014 as a circuit race on the Champs Elysées on the final day of the Tour de France. Those races were won by Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Chloe Hosking.
The race shifted to a two-day experiment in 2017, which saw a summit finish on the Col d'Izoard, held on the same day as stage 18 of the men’s race, followed by a handicapped time trial in Marseille, both won by Annemiek Van Vleuten. And last year’s event returned to a one-day format, a mountainous road race linking Annecy and to Le Grand-Bornand, won by Van Vleuten in a showdown against runner-up Van der Breggen.
Below is a profile of stage 13's 27km individual time trial for Tour de France