GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomeration Trophée Ceratizit History
The GP de Plouay is closing in on 25 years of racing, which makes it one of the longest running major races in the women’s cycling calendar. The lumpy Brittany parcours has favoured climbers and puncheurs over the years, depending on the course layout. Delving into the list of former winners, you have the likes of GC winner Fabiana Luperini and Brit Nicole Cooke before the modern generation takes over with Annemiek van Vleuten’s win in 2011. Peak Marianne Vos took a pair of victories but it’s Lizzie Deignan who has the most victories in recent years with wins in 2015, 2017 & 2020. Amongst all the major names is Slovene Eugenia Bujak who won in 2016 – it remains the only Women’s WorldTour victory in her career.
This year’s GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomeration Trophée Ceratizit has a slightly different parcours compared to last year. The race has removed some of the earlier climbing and back-ended the climbs into the finishing circuit late on. That should allow for potentially a bigger peloton hitting the ‘start of the end’ and maybe make attacking and getting clear slightly harder. The steep climbs reward attacks though, so maybe we won’t see a solo or pair reach the end but rather the bunch sprint we normally see behind a successful break. The balance may be swung closer to the bunch than normal. I can see it being a repeat of 2018’s race where 15 riders contested the finish with classics sprinters like Marianne Vos and Amy Pieters the favourites from that group.
GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomeration Trophée Ceratizit 2022 Contenders
A good place to start is with last year’s winner Elisa Longo Borghini. The Italian was able to burst clear and hold onto a gap ahead of the chasing pack. She’s had a solid block of racing with the Giro Donne and Tour de France Femmes, finishing 4th and 6th overall across both races. After the best part of a month off, she should be fresh again for an attempt at a repeat. Audrey Cordon-Ragot is a local favourite but doesn’t have the best set for results at this race so should be on domestique duty despite her recent win at Vargarda. 11th in 2014 is her best GP de Plouay result. The climbing may be too much for Dideriksen and Hosking, so Trek’s best sprint option could be Shirin van Anrooij. A hugely impressive season saw her win the youth jersey at the Tour de France Femmes and both European U23 titles recently. She should be able to crest the climbs fine and contest the sprint, her chances of a good result increase as purer sprinters are dropped.
FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope is as stacked as you’d imagine for a home race. The Dane and recent winner of the Tour of Scandinavia Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be the main focus. She’s started to work out how to win regularly with her 4 wins this season her highest since 2016 and at a much higher level than then. The finish doesn’t particularly suit her so she will need to create some distance on the climbs. Grace Brown won Stage 4 of the Women’s Tour with similar finishing parcours. She is the rider who will be encouraged to attack often and early to see if a move sticks. She showed in Britain that she can outsprint Niewiadoma and Longo Borghini so a sprint against most breakaway companions will suit. Evita Muzic can never be ignored as an option but I quite like her fellow French rider Marie Le Net here. She recently won La Picto-Charentaise on a similar type of course and could be a decent option for FDJ in a sprint finish.
Team DSM come with a full range of options but leave Lorena Wiebes at home after her European Championships win. The likes of Juliette Labous, Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij will all provide attacking opportunities as they will try to force the bunch open. Labous is the purer climber option after finishing 4th at the Tour de France Femmes but we’ve seen her made attacks in big races plenty of times. Liane Lippert is in good form, as her 2nd place at the Tour of Scandinavia showed. She’s the punchier option who is more likely to force a gap on the climbs. Floortje Mackaij is the swiss army knife option, able to climb but also able to sprint too after making the top 10 on the flat in Scandinavia and the top 10 on the summit finish at the Tour de Suisse. And if it does come down to a sprint then they’ve always got Megan Jastrab who is champing at the bit for a first win after 2nd places at MerXem and Scandinavia.
It’s not been a particularly ground-breaking season for Elena Cecchini, but when it comes to the GP de Plouay she’s always worth mentioning. She’s finished in the top-10 in each of her last 6 editions here with a best of 2nd in 2016. We’ve seen that when she does get the nod from SD Worx that she can get results this year, as 5th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda showed. She’s likely to do best the smaller the bunch sprint is.
She’s supported by Marlen Reusser, who you figure can always go for a long one, similar to her Tour de France Femmes stage victory. For some attacking punch on the climbs there’s the Kiwi Niamh Fisher-Black who hopefully is fully recovered now from the crash that saw her not finish the Tour of Scandinavia.
For Jumbo-Visma, Anouska Koster feels a bit like a dark horse for the win here to me. She’s certainly climbing well and we know she’s got a decent sprint as well, both of which we saw at the Tour of Scandinavia. With no Vos to work for, I can see Koster attacking and being clear in a small group this year. Her teammate Coryn Labecki has raced since June but has finished on the podium here twice in 2018 and 2019. Her ideal scenario is a bunch sprint or picking up the best possible result from the sprint behind a winning lead group.
Valcar’s Silvia Persico continues to be the breakout star of the 2022 season. Consistently high placed on pretty much all terrain, she was 7th at the Giro Donne and 5th at the Tour de France Femmes. She’s still in form after those major GC races and has been 3rd twice in the last week at Konvert Kortrijk Koerse and MerXem Classic. She is going to be sneaky good here and it could be a chance for her first Women’s WorldTour win. I also need to mention her teammate Eleonora Gasparrini who won the MerXem Classic at the weekend and so should be in the mix for a bunch sprint too.
The winless streak for Kasia Niewiadoma keeps getting longer and longer and is over 3 years now. She’s in good form though with 3rd place GC finishes at the Women’s Tour and the Tour de France Femmes. A likely possibility is that Kasia will get into the right move but it will contain someone with a stronger sprint finish and the Pole will be on the podium again. She’s been 4th her before, in 2016, and that feels close to the best possible result for her here.
I’m assuming that it will be Maria Giulia Confalonieri who gets the nod for Ceratizit WNT here. The Italian was 5th on the lumpy Tour de France Femmes stage into Rosheim and so she shouldn’t be distanced by the climbs here. She’s supported by Marta Lach who we saw do really well in May, picking up repeated top-10s but she will no doubt be supporting her leader here.
A fit again Amanda Spratt can do well at the GP de Plouay, with a previous best for 5th coming back in 2018. If she has recovered from the injuries she took in a crash at the Tour de France Femmes then we can look forward to seeing the Australia attack on the climbs here. I quite like the more all-round option of Kristen Faulkner, although she isn’t the strong sprinter. We’ve seen her do well on rolling courses and could give BikeExchange-Jayco a Grace Brown-esque option here. Faulkner was 3rd in last year’s race as well. She will also be relentless in chasing down attacks if the team is rolling the dice for Spratt here.
Similar to Silvia Persico, Roland-Cogeas’ Tamara Dronova can get results on pretty much all terrain. She’s confirmed she will be staying on the team with an new contract in her pocket. 4th in GC at the Tour of Scandinavia, she is almost single-handedly keeping her team in the hunt for a Women’s WorldTour spot at the next reshuffle at the end of 2023. A top-10 should be in the bag for the Russian at the GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomeration Trophée Ceratizit.
Somehow this is a race that Movistar’s Arlenis Sierra has never raced before. That’s probably down to her previous team Astana not being high on the list of teams to invite in the past but this parcours should really suit the Cuban. Always a rider who sprints well after some hills, we’ve only seen fleeting glimpses of that since she won the Ruta del Sol back in May. Maybe not in the best of form, she should do well in the bunch sprint, even if that’s not the front of the race again. Movistar will rely on Emma Norsgaard for the sprint after Sierra was a scratch from the roster. Norsgaard took an impressive win at Kreizh Breizh Elites this week, her first win since Le Samyn des Dames back in March. Maybe against the bigger name punchers here, she may not be able to go with the front group but will be a contender for the sprint.
The Canadian Simone Boilard continues to impress this season with a successful weekend at La Périgord and La Picto-Charentaise where she finished 2nd and 4th respectively. She has shown herself to be a strong one-day racer and whilst maybe against this sort of Women’s WorldTour opposition she will do well to make the top-10, it is certainly a possibility for the St Michel-Auber 93 rider.
Gladys Verhulst was 2nd here last season, effectively winning the bunch sprint and it might’ve been a first Women’s WorldTour win if Elisa Longo Borghini hadn’t already escaped and crossed the line ahead of her. She’s certainly knocking on the door, with 2nd in the French nationals behind Cordon-Ragot, top 10s in the Tour of Scandinavia and another at the European Championships. This is the sort of race we should expect the Le Col-Wahoo rider to do best in.
GP de Plouay Classic Lorient Agglomeration Trophée Ceratizit 2022 Outsiders
The Human Powered Health pair of Nina Buijsman and Antri Christoforou probably can’t be considered contenders but both can animate this race. Buijsman looked good on her way to 7th at the CIC-Tour Féminin Pyrénées recently. She can certainly climb and be in the mix here. Whereas Christoforou won the La Classique Morbihan earlier in the year against the likes of Brown and Le Net who are also here. The Cypriot
Parkhotel Valkenburg’s Quinty Schoens is on a bit of a run since the Tour de France Femmes. 12th, 12th, 12th and 15th is a solid return and if she got that sort of result again at the GP de Plouay it would be a major breakthrough. Already impressive in last year’s U23 Watersley Challenge, Schoens still races high-level triathlons alongside her cycling career.
Coralie Demay is another rider with an impressive CIC-Tour Féminin Pyrénées behind her, finishing 5th in that race. We’ve seen the French attack plenty, including giving it a few goes at the European Championships this weekend for France. She was 2nd behind Christoforou at La Classique Morbihan earlier in the year.
Eva van Agt has been quietly impressive since joining Le Col-Wahoo this year. The Dutch rider rode consistently at the Tour of Scandinavia to finish 16th in GC, after just dropping out of the front group late on during the climb to Norefjell. Maybe temper expectations of a high finish but she’s a rider worth keeping an eye on.
Finally, IBCT’s Loes Adegeest is always worth mentioning in a race like this. She’s impressively sufficiently this season to get a contract with FDJ-Suez from next season, a far cry from when she touted for a new contract via Twitter at around this time last season. Always strong and willing to attack, we’ve not seen her at UCI race since she finished 6th on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, taking the mountains jersey at the Lotto Belgium Tour. She has won a pair of non-UCI races since then, so clearly retains some good form.