Annemiek Van Vleuten was a worthwhile winner of the two-day race but females cyclists deserve more than a shortened mountain stagecoach and a novelty pursuit
Anyone who watched Annemiek van Vleutens sickening, bone-crunching gate-crash as she was heading for gold in the womens superhighway hasten at the Olympics last-place summer will have been roaring her over the line in the concluding theatre of La Course on Saturday. Van Vleuten was a worthwhile winner, having duelled back to fitness after suffering three spinal ruptures and a severe concussion in Rio. Her win signifies a Dutch equestrian has won the race in three of the last four years.
The previous three editions of La Course took place on the final Sunday of the Tour de France, with a sprint on the Champs-lyses, but the organizer initiated a new format this year. On Thursday, riders hastened a 67 km mountain stagecoach from Brianon to the top of the fearsome Col dIzoard. The top finishers from Thursday qualified for a 22.5 km pursuit-style individual meter trial in Marseille on Saturday.
The first attack on Thursday came from world time-trial champ Linda Villumsen as the race neared the foot of the Izoard, rearing up out of the Alps and clambering to 2,360 m through the spooky parched landscape of the Casse Dserte, the backdrop for so many magnificent exploits on the Tour de France. Boels-Dolmans, the team of British champ Lizzie Deignan swept to the front of the hasten, limiting things perfectly for Deignan to propel her own brutal attack on the lower gradients, shedding all but four members of the elite group of 20 equestrians still left in assertion: Megan Guarnier, Shara Gillow, Elisa Longo-Borghini and Van Vleuten.
However, despite having a team-mate as experienced and capable as Guarnier who won the Giro Rosa and the Tour of California last season Deignan could not keep pace with Van Vleuten with only over 4km turn left climb. Van Vleuten has been focusing on her climbing since Rio and her recent training at altitude paid for by richly. She knew she had to build a cause before Saturdays pursuit stage and her tactics paid for by. You likewise have to think about the leg, she supposed after the hasten. In the end it turned out large and provide proof the right time to go.