In 2014 Marianne Vos, alongside Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine and Chrissie Wellington, added her voice to a petition to the ASO for women’s cycling teams to be able to compete in the Tour de France. The outcome of the movement was the first edition of La Course by Le Tour de France, which took place as a circuit race on the Champs Élysées. Fittingly, it was won by Vos herself.
“The first edition was very special. I can still remember how great it felt to arrive there with the peloton and race through the historic streets of Paris in front of the world,” said Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in a team press release. “The beautiful arrival on the Champs-Élysées was something I only knew from TV and now we were riding there ourselves.”
Since then, La Course has taken myriad shapes and forms through the years. Two more years on the Champs Élysées followed, won by Anna van der Breggen and Chloe Hosking.
Later, the race moved to the Alps, first on the Col d’Izoard in 2017 and the Col de la Colombière in 2018. Vos won again in 2019 when the race started and finished in Pau, and last year was narrowly beaten in a sprint by Lizzie Deignan in Nice.
This year, Vos and the rest of the women’s peloton will take on what may well be the last edition of La Course. The race has not been scheduled into the 2022 UCI calendar at the moment and with the inaugural Tour de France Femmes taking place it looks unlikely to make a reappearance.
“It’s very nice that the Tour de France for women is coming back to the calendar as a full-fledged stage race,” said Vos in the team statement. “With opportunities for different specialists and all the elements that make cycling so beautiful. So boys and girls can dream of the yellow jersey.”
Tomorrow’s course is a lumpy 108 kilometres from Brest to Landerneau, which features four ascents of the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups.
“The course this year will make for a tough race”, Vos said. “In Brittany, generally no stretch of road is flat and it will make for an exhausting race. On the local laps with the climb of La Fosse aux Loups, there will be a lot of attacks and the riders with the best legs will fight for victory.”
Following La Course, Vos will race the Giro d’Italia Donne from July 2 to 11, where she will hope to add to her tally of 28 stage wins.
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