La Course by Le Tour de France has taken on a few different guises since its existence. It started off as a race up and down the Champs Elysees, making the most of the crowds already waiting for the finish of the Tour de France. 2017 saw the race whisked off the Alpes. A summit finish on the Col d’Izoard was then complicated by only 19 of the riders getting to do a short race on the time-trial circuit prepared for the Tour de France the next day. Back down to 1 day in 2018, the riders crested the Col de la Colombière before a 15km drag to the finish. The epic final metres are still talked of as one of the best finishes in cycling history. Then last year it was a hilly course in and around Pau that suited Marianne Vos the most.
There are plans for a proper Women’s Tour de France, to match races from the past like the Grand Boucle, Route de France and Tour de l’Aude. This time with the organisers of the men’s Tour de France actually doing the organising, instead of suing the other races. Current talk is for a 1 week stage race, with the first stage taking place on the same day as the last stage of the men’s race on the Champs Elysees. After that the women carry on with their own route and race. It might happen in 2021, but 2022 is probably more likely.
This year’s parcours sees riders take on 2 laps around Nice for a total of 96km on 29th August. The laps include an ascent of the Côte de Rimiez, which is 5.8km long at an average of 5.1%. After the second summit, there will still be around 30km left to race. An elite group of climbers could maybe escape and stay away but we’re probably looking at a bunch sprint on along the beach in Nice.
2019 – Marianne Vos
2018 – Annemiek van Vleuten
2017 – Annemiek van Vleuten
2016 – Chloe Hosking
2015 – Anna van der Breggen
Channel: Eurosport 1
Time: 09:00-12:00 (BST), 10:00-13:00 (CET)
- Boels Dolmans
- Team Sunweb
- Ale BTC Ljubljana
- Canyon SRAM
- FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine
- Parkhotel Valkenburg
- Paule Ka
- Rally Cycling
- Lotto Soudal
- Hitec Products
- Aromitalia Vaiano
- Team TIBCO-SVB
- Team Arkea
- Bizkaia Durango
Women’s La Course by Le Tour de France 2020 Profile
Women’s La Course by Le Tour de France 2020 Favourites
Marianne Vos is the reigning La Course champion and an all-time great. She’s been steadily improving since the lockdown with 17th at Emakumeen Saria, 6th in Strade Bianche and then 4th in the Nat Champs. The course here suits her once again too. Marta Bastianelli has only raced La Course once, finishing 19th on the Champs Elysees in 2016. After a great start to the 2020 season, Vos returned to form with a 4th place in Plouay this week. She’ll be a strong contender in the sprint. Elena Cecchini is another with a strong result this week too. She finished just behind Bastianelli in 5th place in the GP de Plouay. Her best La Course finish is 14th in 2014, finding herself outside the time limit in the more uphill editions of the race recently.
There are plenty of pure sprinters in the mix as well. Aussie Chloe Hosking hasn’t raced since February but she had her usual strong start to the season on home roads in Australia. For a time she looked like the only rider who could cope with Annemiek van Vleuten’s acceleration on the Muur in Omloop too, before finishing 8th. Elisa Balsamo is the new U23 European Champion, outsprinting a large bunch to take the title in Plouay this week. She’s already outsprinted Bastianelli and Cecchini this season back in the Femenina Navarra. 3rd in the U23 race was Dane Emma Cecilie Norsgaard. She’s been having her breakout year in 2020, winning a stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and her national championships. Plus a pair of podiums at Omloop van het Hageland and the U23 Euros. A strong result here would confirm her talent.
Leah Kirchmann has just missed out on the win at La Course a couple of times, finishing 2nd and 3rd previously. She won the Points classification early in the season at the Tour Down Under, before finishing 5th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. This side of lockdown, she was 11th in GP de Plouay. Sunweb say she’s the alternative option to Lippert but in a sprint she’ll be the team’s option.
Jolien D’Hoore was 2nd in the 2015 La Course, another Champs Elysees finish. This will be her first race of 2020 so we’ve got no indicators of form at all. At her best, she’s a podium contender though. Another Belgian contender will be Lotte Kopecky. She was still a teenager when she finished 9th on the last Champs Elysees edition in 2016. She was 3rd in Le Samyn earlier in the year, before becoming National TT Champ recently. 23rd in GP de Plouay was slightly disappointing but the bumps in the profile near the end of that race aren’t replicated in this one.
Movistar’s Sheyla Gutierrez won La Perigord Ladies recently, breaking away from a small group very late on. She was unwell during GP de Plouay and ultimately abandoned the race. Hopefully there’s no reoccurrence on Saturday. We should see a strong sprint finish from Arlenis Sierra who was 2nd in the Cadel Evans race earlier in the year. She’s also taken a Herald Sun Tour stage win and podiums in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. She’s never done a La Course before but she’ll carry the Astana team’s hopes. Either Stine Borgli or Emilia Fahlin should be FDJ’s sprint option. Stine Borgli managed 10th in GP de Plouay whereas Fahlin was 4th back in the Omloop van het Hageland bunch sprint. In this field a top-5 finish would be great for either.
There’s also plenty of riders who’ll be looking to shake up the race and ensure that the race doesn’t come down to a bunch sprint. First and foremost will be Annemiek van Vleuten. Her winning streak was finally broken in GP de Plouay. Despite strong efforts to close the gap to the leading pair, no other rider wanted to help. Subsequently they were all swamped by the peloton. She certainly has the talent to attack on the mountain and not be seen again. Ashleigh Moolman has often kept a watchful eye on van Vleuten during La Course. She was chasing behind in the epic 2018 edition, but couldn’t close the gap. Despite finishing 6th in Emakumeen Saria, questions will be asked of her form. She needed 60 stitches after a training crash before Strade Bianche.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was one of the riders who couldn’t push on from van Vleuten’s efforts in Plouay. She’s just come off a win at the Giro dell’Emilia though so is clearly in some form. For her to win La Course, she’ll need to make sure she’s part of a small break after the top of the final climb. Another rider coming off a win is Lizzie Deignan who won GP de Plouay this week. She won 1v1 sprint at the end of that race, but would get soundly beaten in a big bunch sprint. She’ll be trying to make the race hard on the climbs. To help her with that is Elisa Longo Borghini. On the right day she is another who could attack on the final climb and not be seen again. Her form is good with 5th at Strade Bianche and 3rd at Emakumeen Saria.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma hasn’t had a great 2020 so far. Part of a training crash before Strade Bianche that saw her DNF the race, then attacking much too early in the Giro dell’Emilia final climb to finish 12th. Another crash in the rain at GP de Plouay saw her DNF that race too. With a flat finish, she’ll need the peloton to break up to secure a top result in La Course. Parkhotel’s Demi Vollering ended up 22nd in GP de Plouay after being part of the chasing bunch with van Vleuten. She’s struggled for a stand-out result since lockdown, after her impressive 3rd place finish in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. Like others, she’ll need to be part of a small group at the finish for success.
Lizzy Banks was an impressive 2nd in the GP de Plouay. Escaping with Lizzie Deignan before being made to lead out the sprint and overpowered by Deignan. After 6th at Omloop het Nieuwsblad earlier in the year, she’s showing that the punchy hills aren’t a problem. Unfortunately there aren’t too many in this race so she’ll need the race to get broken up. Teammate Leah Thomas got herself into a breakaway that stuck on the last stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. That stage had a fairly similar parcours to La Course with 2 climbs and then a downhill run to the finish line. She had enough power left to outsprint the small group of 5 riders by the finish. Her best bet is a similar set-up.
Sunweb’s Liane Lippert could win from a small group or also get involved in the sprint finish. With no punchy late hill to attack from, she could get outpowered. However she scored a 7th place in an outright sprint in 2020 already.
Women’s La Course by Le Tour de France 2020 Outsiders
Lucy van der Haar was sprinting well earlier in the season when she won the Dubai Women’s Tour back in February. She won a stage and podiumed twice more on her way to winning the Overall in that race. The hills in the middle of La Course might distance her though and she only finished 98th in Omloop van het Hageland. Teniel Campbell admitted that she wasn’t in the best form post-lockdown but that was around a month ago now. Balsamo will be the main option for Valcar, but it will be close between Campbell and Marta Cavalli for the second option. Campbell was good pre-lockdown, scoring a 5th in Omloop van het Hageland and 3rd in Vuelta CV Feminas. Cavalli herself was 5th in Emakumeen Saria.
Boel Dolman’s other sprint options are Lonneke Uneken and Jip van den Bos. Uneken just finished 2nd in the U23 European Road Race. She’s struggled in the hillier races with a string of DNFs, although she was 7th in Le Samyn des Dames in March. Jip van den Bos was 4th in that Le Samyn race, 3rd in a stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and 9th in Omloop het Nieuwsbland. D’Hoore should be the main option for Boels Dolmans, but they have plenty of options too.
If Lotte Kopecky is unable to sprint at the end of La Course, then her teammate Arianna Fidanza will take up the duties instead. Fidanza has quietly been notching up the top-10 results this season. She finished 4th in Vuelta CV Feminas, 8th in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, 8th in Omloop van het Hageland and 6th this week in GP de Plouay. Bizkaia Durango’s young Brit Elizabeth Holden is a longer shot for success. She finished 2nd in a Setmana Ciclista Valenciana Stage earlier in the year and also finished 6th in La Perigord Ladies recently too.
Paule Ka’s Mikayla Harvey is tough to ignore at the moment as well. The hills haven’t been a problem for her this season and even whilst doing a lot of work for teammates, has still be able to score some impressive results. The 21-year-old was 12th in Strade Bianche and sprinted to 13th in GP de Plouay. The break-out result feels like it’s coming soon.
Emma Cecilie Norsgaard