Back for its eighth edition, the Women’s Race of the Tour will tackle the same demanding and technical terrain that the men face during the first stage of the Tour de France 2021.
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A one-day race, not a women’s Tour de France
The Race was first held in 2014 after a petition was presented to ASO asking for a women’s Tour de France to coincide with the men’s.
The one-day race allows the female peloton to participate in one of the 21 men’s stages of the Tour de France and the stage varies from year to year. The Race, however, is not the Women’s Tour de France. The French organization recently announced that the long-awaited return of the Women’s Tour de France will arrive in 2022 after the end of the men’s edition.
The inaugural edition took place on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a loop of 13 laps totaling 89 km, before the grand final of the men’s event in 2014. Marianne Vos was the first woman to celebrate the victory.
In 2017, the race climbed the Col d’Izoard, offering a stark contrast to the inaugural edition of the Champs-Élysées. Annemiek Van Vleuten won her first La Course victory this year.
Britain’s Lizzie Deignan won La Course in 2020 in a tactical sprint against Vos on a two-lap hilly circuit in Nice.
The Race starts the tour again
As in 2020, this year’s Race will be held on the opening day of the Tour de France. The women will run a similar route from Brest to Landerneau as the men.
The hilly and technical terrain of Brittany will favor specialists in hard-hitting classics. The 2021 route will take the runners on a hilly 107.4 km course, with a 14 km finish circuit to be covered three times before the finish.
The race was originally scheduled to take place in tandem with the second stage of the Tour de France, but was moved due to logistical issues.
The organizers did their best to mimic the planned finish at the top of Mûr-de-Bretagne, instead finishing the short Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, which climbs 14% at the start of the climb of 3 km. Mûr-de-Bretagne.
Who to watch
Expect to see Movistar’s Annemiek Van Vleuten in top form for La Course. Van Vleuten had a successful spring campaign, winning both the Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Women’s Tour of Flanders. She remained consistent as she is known to do, finishing on the podium both at Amstel Gold in third place and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in second. His young Movistar team took off, showing their prowess in supporting Van Vleuten and others like Danish sprinter Emma Norsgaard. Expect her and American Leah Thomas to support her.
The Trek-Segafredo women’s team produced a tactically masterful race in 2020 to secure victory over Lizzie Deignan. While Deignan has had a quiet season so far, the Olympics are one of his major goals. Expect to see Deignan’s form increase significantly for La Course.
Deignan is not the only Trek-Segafredo card to play, however. US National Road Champion Ruth Winder and Italian National Road Champion Elisa Longo Borghini racked up podium places. The team in blue will be one to watch.
Current world and Olympic champion Anna Van Der Breggen has been a dominant force in 2021. The Dutch runner plans to retire after the Tokyo Games, but has proven she has no plans to go out quietly.
Van der Breggen has had four wins so far in 2021. She opened the year by simply walking away from the pitch at Omloop He Nieuwsblad. She then won her seventh consecutive La Flèche Wallonne, before once again beating all her rivals in the Basque Country in two 1.1 one-day events. His SD Worx team has no shortage of potential winners, but expect Van der Breggen to do something special in his The Race final.
Marianne Vos will of course be a big favorite on the classic-style field at this year’s La Course. In her new yellow and black colors of the Jumbo Visma women’s team, Vos stepped out of the gates this season, winning Gent-Wevelgem in March, and for the first time in her illustrious career, Amstel Gold a week later.
Double winner of La Course, Vos will have all eyes to mark it as the women face off before the return of a full women’s Tour de France next season.
While La Course will continue in the coming seasons, directly after the arrival of the men in Paris. In the meantime, catch all the action, live on FloBikes on Saturday June 26e.