Hugs all round for SD Worx – it was a fine, attacking team performance that allowed Demi Vollering to sprint to victory atop the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, denying Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig in second and Marianne Vos in third. A fine race – next year’s eight-stage women’s Tour de France will no doubt bring much more excitement. That’s all for today’s La Course blog – we will post the race report here shortly – and come back soon for our coverage of Tour de France stage 1.
We’ve got a race report from La Course coming up shortly. The TV coverage on ITV4 and Eurosport has switched to looking ahead to the men’s race, which is what I’ll be doing on a separate MBM in around an hour’s time.
Well … this is nuts:
“Lachlan Morton, the maverick Australian adventure racer signed to the EF Nippo team, will ride every stage of this year’s Tour de France — including all transfers between stages — not among his peers, but on his own behind the race convoy, with the aim of reaching the Champs Élysées in Paris on 18 July ahead of the Tour peloton.”
Demi Vollering, who is understandably still out of breath, speaks to Eurosport: “I was not expecting that from today … I was really looking forward to it, this morning … yeah, I don’t know … it was an awesome race! It’s awesome … she [teammate Anna van der Breggen] did it again. It almost went wrong, because Vos was going to all the way to the right … but Anna forced Marianne to go, and then I could come over her, so it was really cool. It gives really much confidence for the future … Now I’ve won it, I’m looking forward to next year.
“The plan was to make it a hard race … it was quite hard from the beginning, and that was good for us … Niamh [Fisher-Black] did a really great job, she was in the breakaway … and Anna of course at the end … it was great teamwork and that I could finish it off, it’s super-cool.”
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig snatched second, Vos was third, Van der Breggen fourth. Lizzie Deignan of Trek-Segafredo, who won last year was ninth, but she would have been hoping for far more than that.
Vollering high-fives her teammates after a great team performance. The race almost came to a standstill on the flatter section just before the finish line … Van der Breggen made her move, but in the end Vollering had time to sit up and double-punch the air as she crossed the line.
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) wins the sprint! Van der Breggen produced a powerful attack in the closing metres … Vos responded, and edged ahead, but Vollering comes past her Dutch compatriot and takes the win! Great ride.
1.2km to go: Van der Breggen, Ludwig and Grace Brown are momentarily at the front … and now the group of eight has re-formed. Demi Vollering is there too. Deignan is trying to bridge across! And the front group is slowing down and starting to play a bit of cat and mouse …
1.5km to go: Ludwig dropped back, as if she was struggling, then launched a massive attack, but she is shut down by Van der Breggen the world champion.
2km to go: Eight riders together at the front. The winner will come from this group. Vos is there for Jumbo-Visma, after she nearly lost contact. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig attacks!
2.5km: Niewiadoma attacks from behind Cromwell! Brown, Van der Breggen, Vos are all giving chase. Niewiadoma managed to forge a little gap but it was shut down.
3km to go: On to the final climb now, 3km all uphill to determine the winner of La Course 2021! Tiffany Cromwell attacks for Canyon/Sram! She gets a gap on the less steep start of the ascent, but then almost immediately starts to toil on the steeper part.
5km to go: The 11-rider break is about to be caught! They are desperately trying to hold off the chasing bunch but to no avail. This is a far less selective race, at this stage, than many expected. It looks like a whole peloton there ready to do battle on the final climb!
7km to go: Down to 26” now … this will come back together. We will see a big bunch attack the final climb together, it looks like, and there will be some fireworks. This could play into the hands of the favourites such as Deignan and Vos. Niewiadoma is also a world-class climber and she will fancy a tilt at the win.
11km to go: It’s 11 riders at the front: Fisher-Black (SD Worx), Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), Thomas (Movistar), Bertizzolo (Liv Racing), Guderzo (Alé BTC Ljubljana), Winder (Trek-Segafredo), Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service), Brown (Team BikeExchange), Labous (Team DSM), Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Faulkner (Team TIBCO-SVB). The gap is back up to 54”.
14km to go: The bell rings for the final lap. The gap is 42”. The pace in the front group seems to have eased up a bit, but they’ve managed to maintain a healthy lead for the final lap. Anyway, it looks far more likely that this will come back together before the finish (before, presumably, blowing up all over again).
14.5km to go: The gap between the front group and the peloton is down to 47”. The break is nearing the summit of the ‘Wolf Pit’ climb.
15km to go: A bit of men’s race news – the UCI have put a press release out saying that Alpecin-Fenix have been given permission to wear a special jersey in tribute to Raymond Poulidor on TdF Stage 1:
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is pleased to announce that it has exceptionally granted permission to UCI ProTeam Alpecin-Fenix to wear a special jersey in honour of Raymond Poulidor on today’s opening stage of the Tour de France.
“At the Team Presentation in Brest, Brittany (France) on Thursday, Alpecin-Fenix riders sported a ‘Poupou’ Team jersey in honour of Raymond Poulidor, grandfather of team member Mathieu Van der Poel. Although it had been agreed between the team, the UCI and organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), that the jersey would be worn at the Team Presentation only, the UCI has now allowed the riders to wear the jersey on Saturday’s first stage between Brest and Landerneau.”
16km to go: On the official route map, the climb is in fact listed as 3km long, with an average gradient of 5.7%. There is movement on the front of the splintered peloton now, with riders attacking each other, and the gap is now down to under a minute.
17km to go: I’m not 100 per cent sure how many riders are in the break, but it’s between 10 and 12. Anyway, riders that are definitely there: Anna Henderson, Ruth Winder, Mikayla Harvey, Niamh Fisher-Black, Grace Brown, Sofia Bertizzolo, Brodie Chapman, Juliette Labous, Leah Thomas, Silvia Persico. There are now powering up the climb.
18km to go: The gap is still growing – out to 1’15” now. If it stretches any further, surely there won’t be time to bring this back and the victory will be contested by the riders in the front group. Approaching the climb for a third time now.
19km to go: The gap between peloton and break has flown out to a minute. There are 12 riders in the break.
22km to go: Henderson, Winder, Fisher-Black, Chapman, Labous, Harvey and Brown are all among the attacking group, which is growing all the time.
24km to go: The climb of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups is 2.63km long with an average gradient of 6.3%. It’s a punchy climb to say the least, and it will be a select group that makes it to the finish to contest the win …
26km to go: There is plenty of cloud cover around in Brittany this morning and it looks like a bit of moisture on the roads, but the racing conditions are good overall. We’ve now got a strong attack off the front again – Vos is there, as is her Jumbo-Visma teammate Henderson …
28km to go: The peloton has been split in two, and the breakaway group has been caught by the front section of the peloton following that big attack by Van der Breggen. All the main favourites seem to be present and correct in the front group. The race has just passed the finish line again at the crest of the climb.
30km to go: On the front of the peloton, world champion Anna van der Breggen has attacked as they hit the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups for a second time. She is clearly trying to test the legs of her main rivals in the main bunch.
31km to go: Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is the leading rider on the women’s UCI World this season, but she has opted to skip today’s race as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics.
33km to go: Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) produced the attack that led to this group bridging across to the lone leader. The riders in the group are: Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Mikayla Harvey (Canyon/Sram), Liane Lippert (DSM), Ana Santesteban (Team BikeExchange), Marta Bastianelli (Alé BTC Ljubljana), Valerie Demey (Liv Racing), Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling), Silvia Persico (Valcar – Travel & Service), Elena Pirrone (Valcar – Travel & Service), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) and Brand …
Lizzie Deignan, an Olympic silver medallist in 2012, won this race in thrilling style last year in a final sprint showdown against Marianne Vos. Will we see a repeat today?
37km to go: Pirrone is now being closed down by a chasing group that has bridged across from the peloton – so we now have a lead group of about 10 riders.
Welcome to our coverage of La Course, the one-day women’s Tour de France race, which this year takes the form of a 107.7km route between Brest and Landernau in Brittany. This is set to be the last edition of La Course, but that does not signal bad news for women’s cycling, because 2022 will see the long overdue reintroduction of a multi-stage women’s Tour de France.
Favourites for today’s La Course include Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma), Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon/Sram Racing). With 40km to race, we have a lone leader – Elena Pirrone (Valcar – Travel & Service) has half a minute on the peloton after the first ascent of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups.
There should be plenty of excitement on the remaining three ascents of the same climb …