Lizzie Deignan wins La Course by Le Tour de France

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) has won La Course by Le Tour de France, beating Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) and Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) in the sprint of a group of six on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais. World champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) initiated the winning move when she went hard from the bottom of the Côte de Rimiez with 44km to go, and only five riders were able to stay with Van Vleuten over the climb.

After a technical descent, this elite group worked together well until the last kilometres when both Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Van Vleuten tried to anticipate a sprint, but their attacks were closed down by Vos. In the sprint, Longo Borghini went long from the back of the group, Vos got on her wheel and looked like the winner, but Deignan could wind up her sprint in Vos’ slipstream and just beat the Dutchwoman with a bike throw on the finish line.

“I was just relieved that I won it," Deignan said after the close finish. “What a performance from Trek-Segafredo today, Elisa and I just had to wait for the final. She did a perfect job there, forcing Marianne to sprint early, and I could take advantage of that.”

Deignan continued: “I also had the advantage of having two of the best sprinters in the world in the team car Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Giorgia Bronzini have both beaten Vos in sprints, and their advice was patience. So I waited.”

La Course was Deignan’s second victory in the space of five days after she had already won the GP de Plouay on August 25, and the Briton now takes the lead in the UCI Women’s WorldTour ranking.

“It is phenomenal,” Deignan concluded. “Sometimes you are training hard and things are not going your way, that is frustrating, but finally it feels like luck is on our side and I am peaking for the right time. It was a team victory, and wearing the Women’s WorldTour jersey is always an honour.”

How it unfolded

On the opening day of the men’s Tour de France, it was the women’s peloton that started proceedings with a 96-kilometre race around Nice, consisting of two laps of a circuit beginning with the 5.8km, 5.1% climb of the Côte de Rimiez, followed by an uncategorised ascent, a technical descent, and about 23km of flat roads towards the finish.

Despite a few early attacks, the peloton largely stayed together on the first climbs. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) used the descent to split the group and was joined by Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal), Anna Henderson (Team Sunweb), and Longo Borghini. 

Speeding along the Mediterranean coast next to a regional train, these six riders enjoyed an advantage of up to 45 seconds on a chase group of 25 riders. However, when an even larger group came back to the chase group from behind and joined in the chase, the gap quickly dwindled, and the breakaway was caught shortly before the peloton crossed the finish line with one lap to go.

Van Vleuten made the most of the Côte de Rimiez climb, accelerating right from the bottom and blowing the peloton to pieces. Although several riders could hold the world champion’s wheel, she never stopped setting a ferocious pace, and at the mountain sprint 39km from the finish, only Longo Borghini, Deignan, Vos, Vollering, and Niewiadoma were still with her. With Van Vleuten still pulling, their advantage to the next group on the road rose to 1:15 minutes just before the start of the descent.

Deignan attacked over the top and into the downhill, and the technical descent briefly led to splits in the group, but by the time they had reached the valley, all six riders were back together. Several teams tried to organise a chase in the group behind, but despite the best efforts by FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope and Valcar-Travel & Service, the gap grew further to 1:45 minutes with 18km to go and stayed like that to the finish.

In the front group, Niewiadoma was not taking turns, and it looked like she was preparing an attack. But the Pole had been tired by her efforts on the first lap, and the high pace that Vos and Longo Borghini in particular set in the final kilometres prevented any long-range attacks.

With her teammate Deignan watching Vos, Longo Borghini made her first move 2.5 kilometres from the line but was quickly brought back by Vos. Van Vleuten counterattacked, Vos was on the world champion’s wheel, and Longo Borghini took over pace-setting duties again. Van Vleuten made another attempt under the flamme rouge, with Niewiadoma on her wheel, but Vos was attentive again. When Longo Borghini launched her sprint from the back, Vos went after her, too.

Coming out of the Italian’s slipstream, the CCC-Liv rider was far ahead of Deignan, but the Briton closed this gap on the final metres and threw her bike across the finish line to beat Vos by a narrow margin. Emilia Fahlin (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) won the bunch sprint for seventh place.

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Full results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Elizabeth Deignan (Gbr) Trek-Segafredo 2:22:51
2Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv
3Demi Vollering (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
4Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram Racing
5Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott
6Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:07
7Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:01:50
8Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
9Soraya Paladin (Ita) CCC-Liv
10Liane Lippert (Ger) Team Sunweb
11Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies
12Mikayla Harvey (NZl) Equipe Paule Ka
13Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Ale' BTC Ljubljana
14Katia Ragusa (Ita) Astana Women's Team
15Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon // Sram Racing
16Aude Biannic (Fra) Movistar Team Women
17Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) CCC - Liv
18Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank
19Hanna Nilsson (Swe) Parkhotel Valkenburg
20Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) Ceratizit - WNT Pro Cycling Team
21Sandra Levenez (Fra) Team Arkea
22Omer Shapira (Isr) Canyon // Sram Racing
23Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb
24Marta Cavalli (Ita) Valcar - Travel & Service
25Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam
26Evita Muzic (Fra) Fdj Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope
27Erica Magnaldi (Ita) Ceratizit - Wnt Pro Cycling Team
28Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) Valcar - Travel & Service
29Elizabeth Banks (GBr) Equipe Paule Ka 0:01:55
30Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:01:58
31Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope
32Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) Equipe Paule Ka 0:02:08
33Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:05:50
34Rasa Leleivyte (Lit) Aromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano
35Danielle Christmas (GBr) Lotto Soudal Ladies
36Laura Asencio (Fra) Ceratizit - WNT Pro Cycling Team
37Nancy Van Der Burg (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
38Riejanne Markus (Ned) CCC - Liv
39Teuntje Beekhuis (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies
40Grace Brown (Aus) Mitchelton Scott
41Greta Richioud (Fra) Hitec Products - Birk Sport
42Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Ale' BTC Ljubljana
43Karlijn Swinkels (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
44Alice Arzuffi (Ita) Bizkaia - Durango
45Juliette Labous (Fra) Team Sunweb
46Leah Thomas (USA) Equipe Paule Ka
47Paula Patiño (Col) Movistar Team Women
48Leigh Ann Ganzar (USA) Rally Cycling
49Urška Žigart (Slo) Ale' BTC Ljubljana
50Ruth Winder (USA) Trek - Segafredo
51Jip Van Den Bos (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam
52Vita Heine (Nor) Hitec Products - Birk Sport
53Amalie Lutro (Nor) Hitec Products - Birk Sport 0:05:55
54Sara Poidevin (Can) Rally Cycling 0:09:15
55Leah Dixon (GBr) Team Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank
56Chloe Hosking (Aus) Rally Cycling
57Heidi Franz (USA) Rally Cycling 0:10:12
58Alison Jackson (Can) Team Sunweb 0:10:17
59Anna Henderson (GBr) Team Sunweb
60Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam
61Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar - Travel & Service
62Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) CCC - Liv

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