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La Course by Le Tour de France 2021 - Preview

Lizzie Deignan beats Marianne Vos to win 2020 La Course
Lizzie Deignan beats Marianne Vos to win 2020 La Course (Image credit: Getty Images)

The bike throw between Lizzie Deignan and Marianne Vos in a final sprint at last year's race has kept cycling fans wanting more as we head to La Course by Le Tour de France set to take place on Saturday in Brest.

It has been one of the most popular events on the Women's WorldTour but this year could mark its last - at least on the top-tier calendar - as it will be replaced by the official launch of the Tour de France Femmes in 2022.

This year's race was originally scheduled to take place on circuits at Mûr-de-Bretagne on June 27, and was shifted to June 26 and a route similar to that of the Tour de France stage 1 from Brest to Landerneau.

La Course by Le Tour de France will embark on its eighth edition in Brest. The event was launched in 2014 after a successful petition to ASO to include women's racing alongside the Tour de France. What started out as a circuit race on the Champs Élysées, has evolved over the years with a two-day experiment at Col d'Izoard and in Marseille in 2017, a shift back to a mountainous one-day race into Le Grand-Bornand in 2018, a circuit race in Pau in 2019, and a move to Nice in 2020.

La Course by Le Tour de France marks the 10th stop on the Women's WorldTour, however, it is the only round of the top-tier series held during the month of June. The Women's Tour in Great Britain, which traditionally takes place in June, has been postponed until October.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is leading the Women's WorldTour, however, she has opted not to race at La Course or Giro d'Italia Donne as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Join Cyclingnews for live coverage of 2021 La Course by Le Tour de France, and check in after the race for our full report, results, gallery, news and features, and find out more details about How to Watch live broadcasting of La Course by Le Tour de France.

How the race unfolded in 2020

Who to watch

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) - Deignan will lead a powerful six-rider team that includes Ruth Winder, Lucinda Brand, Tayler Wiles, Shirin van Anrooij and local favourite Audrey Cordon-Ragot. Cordon-Ragot told Cyclingnews that she was pleased that the one-day race will finally become the stepping stone to the Tour de France next year. Deignan has told Cyclingnews that she is excited about her form heading into La Course, which is on the rise after an illness-marred spring campaign.

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) - We would all love to see another sprint showdown between Deignan and Vos.  Vos has taken a bit of a break from racing as she met with her Dutch National Team for a training camp to prepare for the Olympic Games. She will return to racing at La Course, and likely, with the the same impeccable form that she used to net victories at Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race. She will have a series of support riders and opportunistic teammates that include Anna Henderson.

Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) - The double world champion won 2015 La Course with a rare solo victory on the Champs-Élysées. This year's punchy route suits her to perfection but she lines up with several contenders in Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Demi Vollering. Van der Breggen won the last round of the Women's WorldTour at Vuelta a Burgos before securing the time trial title at  the Dutch Road Championships last week.

Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) - Many of the successful Spring Classics contenders are back to racing at La Course, including Brown. She won Brugge-De Panne and the opening stage of Vuelta a Burgos, before being named to Australia's women's road team set to compete at the Olympic Games. She lines up with fellow contender and Olympian Amanda Spratt, who is a bit of an unknown after having a rare sub-par spring campaign.

Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) - She is one of the most exciting riders competing on the Women's WorldTour in 2021. Cavalli is missing that big top-tier victory but she is an aggressive racer and has been among the top 10s in many of the punchy races this spring.  She will have a co-leader in Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig on the start line in Brest, and the pair could prove to be an unbeatable pair.

Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) - The new US road champion should not be under-estimated on her return to European racing at La Course. Stephens finished in the finals of many of the one-day races this spring, with a 10th at Gent-Wevelgem, before winning the 100-mile event at Unbound Gravel. She then proved impeccable form to win the women's road race title at the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships last week. Watch Stephens, and her team, to excel at La Course.

Read our in-depth feature highlighting the riders to watch for La Course by Le Tour de France.

The route

La Course by Le Tour de France

La Course by Le Tour de France - Profile (Image credit: ASO / La Course by Le Tour de France)

The women's peloton will race a 107.4km course starting in Brest and finishing with three laps of a 14-kilometre circuit with the finish line atop the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups in Landerneau.

The peloton will begin Brest and race for 59.3km into Landerneau, where each of  the three final circuits includes a climb over the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups.

Côte de la Fosse aux Loups is three kilometres with an average gradient of nearly six per cent.

The peloton will climb the ascent three times as part of the finishing circuits, before then tackling it a fourth and final time where the finish line is located at the top.

What to expect

Fans following along with La Course by Le Tour de France on Saturday can expect to see an explosive return to Women's WorldTour racing.

The best teams, with their best riders, in the world will be on the start line but the race will cater to the puncheurs of the peloton; those who can both climb and sprint, and who are not afraid to create a winning breakaway - think Anna van der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan, Marta Bastianelli, and Marianne Vos.

It's also a short race, at just over 100km, and that will make it an aggressive race rather than a race of attrition like some of the longer spring classics.

Last year's route was also punchy, and so we can expect to see a similar style of race, where teams and riders will play their cards early on.

Unlike last year's run-in to Nice, however, this year finishes at the top of the circuit's ascent on Côte de la Fosse aux Loups. That means we can expect to see a winning breakaway, or perhaps a breakaway caught ahead of the final climb, but in any scenario, we will see an all-out battle on the final slopes of La Course by Le Tour de France.

Teams

  • Movistar Team
  • Trek-Segafredo Women
  • Alé BTC Ljubljana
  • Canyon SRAM Racing
  • FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
  • Liv Racing
  • Team BikeExchange
  • Team DSM
  • SD Worx
  • Team Jumbo-Visma Women
  • Team Arkéa Samsic
  • A.R. Monex Women's Pro Cycling Team
  • Bizkaia Durango
  • Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
  • Drops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR
  • Massi - Tactic Women Team
  • Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • Rally Cycling Women
  • Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime Women Cycling
  • Team TIBCO - Silicon Valley Bank
  • Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
Kirsten Frattini

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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