Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit Plouay History
Over the years, the women’s Classic Lorient Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit, also known as the GP de Plouay, has grown into a prestigious fixture on the women’s professional cycling calendar. This French race has garnered significant attention for its challenging course that threads through the undulating Breton landscape. The rolling terrain offers plenty of chance to attack, with it often left to the final ascent before the finish line. The sprint isn’t an easy one to call either. A downhill section into a rise makes it very easy for riders to go early and be caught out before the line.
In the 2022 Classic Lorient Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit, Mavi Garcia of UAE Team ADQ put on an attacking show late on. She waited for the right moment, then gave it everything as the group looked set to wait for a sprint. This tactical move set her apart from the rest and gave her the opportunity for a sprint finish against Amber Kraak, which the Spaniard won.
Elisa Longo Borghini won the 2021 race with a solo finish that left spectators in awe. Riding for Trek-Segafredo, the Italian star managed to create a 12-second gap between herself and the rest of the riders. Gladys Verhulst took second place, just beating Kristen Faulkner.
The 2020 race saw an all-British highlight featuring Lizzie Deignan and Lizzy Banks. Deignan racing for Trek-Segafredo and Banks for Équipe Paule Ka, who would be defunct a few months later. They broke away from the pack together, working well as a team, but it was the more seasoned Deignan who took the win in the end. It was her first major win since the 2019 Women’s Tour GC.
Elisa Longo Borghini
Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit Plouay 2023 Profile
Saturday 2nd September 2023
Live on Eurosport/GCN
Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit Plouay 2023 Contenders
Let’s start with last year’s Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit (it’s such a mouthful compared to the old name of GP Plouay!) winner, Mavi Garcia. It was a great attacking move that saw her win in 2022 but it feels slightly tough to see a repeat this year. The Spaniard is going well without quite hitting the same heights as last year. 10th in the World Champs was a strong finish after having to leave the Tour de France Femmes early. She’ll be a contender but the peloton will surely be wise to her this time.
Runner-up last year was Amber Kraak, a rider who appears to be getting into more and more form as she picks up cycling experience. The former rower just finished 3rd in GC at the Tour of Scandinavia and also won La Périgord Ladies for her first race win recently too. Clearly in a rich vein of form, the Dutch rider can certainly repeat last year’s ride. Her teammate Karlijn Swinkels will also be very useful here. Swinkels will probably get the nod if it all ends up being a bunch sprint or chasing the minor placings behind a winning break.
Eva van Agt will probably be encouraged to attack from further out but also represents a good option herself.
For FDJ-Suez, this is quite a hard one to pick. Grace Brown is clearly in some form at the moment but hasn’t had a top-10 result in a non-time trial race since mid-June now. She was 5th in the GC at Scandinavia but that one-day racing run of results might see another be the best shot. Gladys Verhulst has always done well at the Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit. She was 2nd in 2021 and 5th last year, both times doing well in the sprint behind the winning break. Verhulst’s last race was a win at La Picto-Charentaise, her 2nd of the year after winning her home race back at Tour de Normandie.
Canyon SRAM will certainly have a few options. Kasia Niewiadoma has been in good form this year with 3rd at the Tour de France Femmes a highlight. She was forced to pull out of the World Championships at the last minute with an illness. She may be back to full strength now and ready to contend. Also in that boat is Chloe Dygert. The American was clearly ill during the Worlds TT and whilst it didn’t stop her from winning, it did stop her from the road race. If she’s sprinting as well as she did at the Giro Donne, she will be a strong contender at the finish.
Elise Chabbey will be a strong attacking option after picking up yet another Queen of the Mountains jersey in Scandinavia. Soraya Paladin will probably work out very similarly to how Dygert would’ve been. A good climbing option on these rolling roads, she will also have a fast finish if given the nod.
The big pre-race favourite is going to the be rider in the world champion bands. Lotte Kopecky will be back racing at the highest level again at the Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit. She’s already won once as world champion, albeit at the non-UCI level Schaal Sels race. That combination of being able to attack the climbs and sprint hard makes her ideal for this race. Teammate Marlen Reusser will be looking to find the fun in racing again after reaching a head in the World Championship time trial. She might be able to attack and go clear here but I can see her more in the peloton policing role to ensure Kopecky wins. Niamh Fisher-Black is another option on the short, sharp climbs here. The Kiwi had a solid Tour of Scandinavia finishing 15th in GC as the TT swayed her away from the top positions. She was 12th here in 2021.
Lidl-Trek is in an interesting spot coming into this race. They have big names but Elisa Balsamo is still finding her way back to 100% and suffered another crash in Scandinavia. 3rd on the final day there is an encouraging result coming into this race. At her best, Amanda Spratt would be a strong contender here but she was forced to leave the Tour of Scandinavia early. She often finishes just outside of the top-10 but has a best of 5th back in 2018. After finishing 6th at the World Championships, it was a fairly quiet week in Scandinavia for Lizzie Deignan. That feels like a case of looking ahead to this race though. Deignan is a 3-time winner of the Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit in 2015, 2017 & 2020. Only once has she not finished in the top-10 since 2014.
UAE Team ADQ’s Silvia Persico should be a good threat here. Finishes of 11th and 14th previously feel like an opportunity for improvement, especially as she has a decent kick at the end of the race and can climb too. She’s similar to Mavi Garcia in some ways this year. A good season but without the same highs of last season just yet. Teammate Eleonora Gasparrini is another option in a similar vein. She got a great set of results a couple of months ago, including a win at the Tour de Suisse and a pair of 5th places at RideLondon Classique. However, since then it’s all been a little quieter. It’s possible we see her be a threat but it’s tough to be confident about.
Arlenis Sierra had a quieter Tour of Scandinavia than I thought she might. It was a strange quirk that her best result was actually in the time trial than any of the uphill sprints. Somehow, this will be her first edition of the Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit but it feels right in her wheelhouse. Teammate Liane Lippert should get the lead duty, however. She was 4th in GC at Scandinavia whilst making sure Annemiek van Vleuten won the race. Her best result here over the years is 12th but she has a shot at doing something like Mavi Garcia’s winning move here last year.
This is a bit of an in-betweener race for Clara Koppenburg. The hills aren’t tough enough for long enough for the German to really excel but a recent 6th place at the flat La Périgord Ladies may mean a few more options are available this time. A sprint finish won’t suit so hopefully we see her attack and attack. Pretty much the last time we saw Victoire Berteau before the World Championships was the French national championships that she won. Now back racing on French soil, in the French colours, hopefully, Berteau still has the road form she had before the enforced break to earn Worlds medals.
Simone Boilard will be full of confidence after taking a first win at the GP Oetingen recently. The Canadian was able to go clear with a small group, then ditched them and was never caught again. She certainly has a chance here, especially if a small group goes clear again. Coralie Demay is always a potential threat and took a top-10 at the Tour de France Femmes and Dilyxine Miermont‘s 4th place at the Alpes Gresivaudan Classic makes her someone who can do well on these climbs too.
A pair of options with Israel-Premier Tech Roland are Tamara Dronova and Claire Steels. Dronova should be able to contest any final sprint, whereas Steels can attack the climbs. 4th on the final day of the Tour of Scandinavia is encouraging for Dronova, as it’s her first top-10 result since the start of the Tour de France Femmes. It feels like the peak of form Steels had around the nationals is waning but her consistency across all 5 days still saw the Brit finish 11th in the GC at the Tour of Scandinavia. The pair will work well in tandem here.
Christina Schweinberger had a great World Championships. The Austrian finished 3rd in the TT and then followed it up with 5th in the road race too. She’s been a strong one-day racer all season and whilst not a big-name favourite, will quietly be a rider that could very well end up on the podium in this year’s Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit. She’s supported by Yara Kastelijn who is still going strong after her stage win at the Tour de France Femmes and finished 10th at the Tour of Scandinavia. We might see her go attack and then Fenix-Deceuninck can fall back on Schweinberger if it does come down to a sprint.
The Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit has always been a race that Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has threatened to do really well in. She was 4th in Plouay back in 2015. She’s flirted with the top-10 here ever since. She’s unquestionably the leader here for her team unlike previous years elsewhere which may help. She seems to have found a sprint as well, which has helped her to 3 wins already in 2023. There’s surely potential for a podium. The team also has a solid sprinting option in Ally Wollaston who has shown that she likes hilly parcours. Track obligations heading into the World Championships mean we haven’t really seen her on the road since the Giro Donne.
Ane Santesteban would’ve been a strong contender and might still yet take part as she’s on the startlist. The Spanish rider tested positive for Covid in leaving the Tour of Scandinavia early.
Classic Lorient Agglomération Tropheée Ceratizit Plouay 2023 Outsiders
It’s been a tough set of months results-wise for Maria Giulia Confalonieri but she appeared to come good again with 4th at the GP Oetingen. If that’s a good sign then maybe Confalonieri is able to contest the sprint finish here. Teammate Anouska Koster deserves a win as well after the season she’s been having. Seemingly always willing to attack, we saw it again in Scandinavia last week. A top-10 is certainly possible for her here.
The Tour de France Femmes white jersey winner Cedrine Kerbaol is on the startlist here and would normally be a threat. Something that tempers expectations is that she’s taking part in the Tour de l’Avenir this week, which ends the day before this race. As a Breton, Kerbaol will be keen to race in her home area though, despite the travel.
Alison Jackson had a strong result here back in 2018 where the Canadian finished 6th. It’s always hard to predict just which races Jackson will be on form for but where she will be a threat is in any sprint for the finish. She might end up supporting Letizia Borghesi, who was 7th on the last day in Scandinavia. There might’ve been other strong finishes too but she was accidentally taken out by Elisa Balsamo in her crash on the uphill sprint. Krista Doebel-Hickok is the more natural climber on the team but is on the road back to 100% after crashing in May and breaking her collarbone at Itzulia. She could be a threat if she has the good legs back.
Anastasiya Kolesava had a strong week at the Giro Toscana recently. The Arkea rider finished 3rd in GC at that race, taking a stage win along the way. She was 9th at La Périgord Ladies as well this year, making up for a late start to the racing year due to her nationality.