Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) has a lot of pressure on her shoulders ahead of La Course by Le Tour de France. Her team is relying on her to bring her dominant form from the Giro Rosa, where she won four of the 10 stages, to the new puncheur-style one-day race in Pau on Friday.
"In Pau, we will cycle rounds on the course on which the Tour riders will finish their time trial," the team's director Jeroen Blijlevens said. "Only the last round will be different. This ending is difficult, a lot of curves and a steep bend. This is what our riders can do well. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio was improving during the Giro Rosa and can maybe try something here.
"But we are counting on Marianne Vos, who has already shown in Italy that she can do well when there’s a difficult ending. The team needs to make sure that our riders get a favourable position in the final," Blijlevens said.
This year's parcours for La Course is not as mountainous as the previous two editions, won by Annemiek van Vleuten, and many believe it will better suit puncheurs and sprinters. Vos, who won the inaugural edition on the Champs-Elysées in 2014, showed impeccable form in July after winning four stages at the Giro Rosa. She therefore lines up as the favourite to win the race.
Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Chloe Hosking won the first three editions that were circuit races on the Champs-Elysees in Paris from 2014-2016. Van Vleuten went on to win the two-day race in 2017 and last year's one-day race in Le Grand-Bornand.
This year's race is on the same hilly 27km circuit that the men will use for their stage 13 time trial of the Tour de France.
The women will race is 121km that covers five laps of the circuit, which includes a climb over the Côte d'Esquillot and Cite de Gelos, making it challenging but one that could suit the one-day Classics specialists and possibly even the sprinters.
CCC-Liv's team for La Course also includes Moolman-Pasio, Pauliena Rooijkkers, Riejanne Markus, Jeanne Korevaar and Valerie Demey.