Despite La Course’s annual denunciations as a lackluster nod to equality from ASO, the race itself is still far from missing. Saturday was no different, and with wall-to-wall coverage, viewers were able to witness the non-stop attrition of the women’s races as the relentless attacks came and went even before the final fireworks display on the Côte de the Wolf Pit. In the end, it was the apparently unstoppable juggernaut that is Demi Vollering (SD Worx) who beat none other than Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) to win at Landerneau.Before the Giro d’Italia Donne which kicks off on July 2 and the Olympic Games later that month, what have we learned from the race?
Fewer miles means more action
A lingering observation around women’s cycling is that the races are more spectacular and exciting, one of the contributing factors being the generally shorter distances run. The Race has been a case study in this area for the last few years, especially because most of the editions have been covered live from start to finish, meaning the first breaks and attacks are broadcast.
Last year in Nice there was less than 100 km, but there was not a moment to catch your breath during the whole race. At 107km, this year’s edition was one of the shortest Women’s World Tour races on the calendar, but a lack of miles doesn’t equate to a lack of action.
There was nothing like waiting for the circuits and the climb before starting the race. The first stages of Saturday’s race were marked by the determination of the French continental teams Arkéa and Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime to make it a movement. Cédrine Kerbaol d’Arkéa finally broke away solo but hers was one of the many movements of the day in the continuous oscillation of the order of things.
The composition of the leading groups was constantly changing with larger teams putting riders on the road as well as continental teams looking for their chances. The final climb of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups was grueling but the rest of the race was not lacking in action.
Regardless of the distance, women’s races are almost always thrilling throughout, but it’s the short and explosive nature of races like The Race that provides the most compelling argument for staying short but sweet.
Demi Vollering can do it all
It would have been a fitting piece of symmetry for Marianne Vos, who was part of the movement to start the race in 2014, to secure the victory of what could be the last The Race in history. It wasn’t for leader Jumbo-Visma, however. For the second year in a row, the woman widely recognized as the greatest cyclist of all time was passed at La Course and at the mercy of a two-man tactic. This year it was the SD Worx duo of Anna van der Breggen and Demi Vollering – rather than Trek’s Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini – and with the unflappable World Champion acting as her super maid, Vollering finished the job. precisely.
“It almost went wrong because Vos was going all right and I was kinda stuck. Anna has been speeding up and has already forced Marianne to go. Then I could go in Marianne’s wake and come over her, ”Vollering said after the race.
With Jumbo-Visma, a team that is still finding its marks, against the best team in the peloton, Vos was at a disadvantage against Vollering and co, having to lead the sprint. She’s been there before and won but her climbing legs let her fall on the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups.
The result at Landerneau calls into question the tactics of the Dutch Olympic team. On paper, Vollering is the young contender who should rightfully be involved for three of the best and most experienced riders in the peloton. However, his recent accomplishments and versatile abilities mean Vollering could be the Netherlands’ best chance to win a gold medal in Tokyo.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is on fire
Her charm and exuberance make her one of the most convincing personalities in the peloton, although she is a constant rider, however, the media profile of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig had, until recently, somewhat belied her record. . That was until the Danish rider won her first race of the Women’s World Tour this season in the third stage of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas.
The confidence resulting from this result was evident in the way the 25-year-old raced yesterday as she battled against the best in the world on the final ascent to the finish. Finding herself stuck in a squad with quick finishers, she threw out one final attack that looked quite dangerous until Anna van der Breggen decided to shut her down in her usual effortless style.
Nevertheless, Uttrup Ludwig kept his cool and his position in the group of favorites, eventually overtaking Marianne Vos in the final sprint to take second place behind Demi Vollering. With such an impressive spectacle of form, the FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope rider should score a big result at the Giro d’Italia Donne next week and even at the Olympic Games.
Canyon-SRAM and Trek-Segafredo had the tactics but not the finish
Canyon-SRAM and Trek-Segafredo both executed some of the race’s most successful tactics at La Course, but the sheer difficulty of the climb left their respective leaders, Kasia Niewiadoma and Lizzie Deignan, unable to finish the job.
Trek-Segafredo is known to play its cards well and it was in this same race last year that Elisa Longo-Borghini and Deignan beat Marianne Vos. Lucinda Brand and Ruth Winder were particularly helpful this time around, throwing themselves into moves and stopping anything that was too dangerous, but Deignan admitted after the race that the advantage just wasn’t there: “To be honest , today was just a bad day from the start. at the finish. I was feeling bad. So I knew it was just a matter of suffering and I just didn’t have it when I needed it. I didn’t have the finish like the girls in front, ”she said in a post-race interview.
Usual Canyon-SRAM suspects Mikayla Harvey, Elise Chabbey and Omer Shapira animated the race for Niewiadoma from the start while Tiffany Cromwell launched a powerful attack at the bottom of the final climb to set up her teammate. As things got serious towards the top of the Fosse aux Loups, Niewiadoma was well placed in the top group, but his best chance would have been a solo move against quick finishers like Vos and Vollering. Stuck in the select group, the Polish rider finished 6th out of the 8 riders.
However, it’s not a big blow to either team, with mitigating factors like Deignan still coming back to form after a difficult spring strewn with disease, and Niewiadoma fresh off the altitude. The two riders have one week left to regroup before the Giro d’Italia Donne with its ten stages offering ample opportunity to promote the same tactics.
This was the last edition… or was it?
It is widely believed that yesterday’s race was the last edition of The Course. ASO has yet to confirm its intention to remove the one-day race in favor of the new Tour de France Women, but La Course has not been added to the 2022 UCI calendar. With the eight-day race starting on the last day of the men’s Tour, it seems unlikely that La Course will make a comeback.
A women’s race under the banner of the Tour de France has the potential to create untold opportunities for women’s cycling. The Tour brand transcends the sport of cycling and whatever pitfalls women perceive following in the wheels on the male side of the sport are guaranteed to raise the profile of women’s racing.
Many riders themselves have expressed their joy at finally being able to respond in the affirmative when asked if they would participate in the Tour de France. Marianne Vos, one of the four women who contributed to the creation of La Course and who will surely have hoped that this moment would come sooner, declared: “It is very good that the women’s Tour de France is back on the calendar as a full-fledged stage race. With opportunities for different specialists and all the elements that make cycling so beautiful. So that boys and girls can dream of the yellow jersey.
Whether or not that signals the end of La Course, it will be a new start for women’s races.