Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) had been a main proponent in the campaign to get a women's race concurrent with the men's Tour de France. She then sprinted to victory in the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées in 2014. On Friday, Vos won her second La Course, this time on the hilly circuit around Pau that was also used for the men's stage 13 time trial later in the day.
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Vos gave credit to her teammates for controlling the race and reeling in solo attacker Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) on the final kilometres. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio had followed attacks throughout the race, and in the final, Jeanne Korevaar and Pauliena Rooijakkers went to the front to work for their leader, knowing full well that Vos is virtually unbeatable at the moment on a short, steep climb like that of the Rue Mulot on the final kilometre.
"We were in control with the team, but you still have to do the work. All my teammates did a great job to go with the moves and in the chase. The team was constantly in control and that kept me at ease. In the final, they did a really good job of keeping me in the right position and helping me over to the move of Spratt."
Spratt had gone solo with 25km to go, launching from a break of five just before they were caught by the peloton. After a strong first part of the final lap, the flat ten kilometres before the finish were her undoing as CCC-Liv, Team Sunweb, and Trek-Segafredo chased behind to get their leaders back in contention.
"We could constantly see her but of course she's a really strong rider," Vos said. "The final part wasn't perfect for her. My team and some other teams had too much power and that was the ideal scenario."
Vos has had a very successful season so far. After the Trofeo Binda, she won a rain-soaked second stage and the general classification at the Women's Tour de Yorkshire. In June, Vos won stage 2 at the OVO Energy Women's Tour and took the overall lead but crashed out of the race the following day.
Two silver medals at the European Games in Minsk and the Dutch road race championships followed. Remarkably, she went on to win four of the 10 stages at the Giro Rosa. Her victory at La Course was her ninth of the year.
"I've been getting better and better during the season, but the last few weeks have been unbelievable. It's the shape that you dream of."
It is well possible that Vos' winning form can continue even further.
In early August, the European Championships are held in her home country. The road race on a flat city circuit in Alkmaar will be on her list, but the World Championships in late September in Yorkshire suit her even better.
As part of a very strong Dutch team, Vos has to be considered among the big favourites and could win her fourth road race rainbow jersey to add to her seven cyclo-cross and two track world titles.