Some of the world’s best riders are making their way to Paris for the second edition of La Course by Le Tour France. With the world’s eyes on the Champs-Élysées and a generous prize purse up for grabs, everyone wants a chance of glory on one of cycling’s most iconic avenues, especially the sprinters.
Among them will be Belgian national road race champion, Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle Honda), who in recent weeks has shown to be in excellent form, winning three of the four stages at BeNe Ladies Tour and claiming the overall win as well.
In fact, she has been in great form all season.
Back in March, d’Hoore sprinted to her biggest road result yet by winning the Ronde van Drenthe, a career-first World Cup victory. Ever since, she has been a real danger in the final metres of the biggest fast finishes on the women’s professional calendar.
Primarily a track racer since she was just 12 years old, d’Hoore is having her best road season yet, and there are still a few months, and big goals, ahead.
“I am surprising myself a bit, too,” d’Hoore told Ella CyclingTips in a recent interview. “I was completely surprised when I won Drenthe. I had never thought I could win a World Cup race. Everything has been going well since, and that’s helped me build confidence in myself and my sprint.”
Most of the credit however goes to her team, said d’Hoore.
“I am surrounded by a very strong team. At BeNe Ladies Tour, we had only four of us but counted for six. As a sprinter, having a strong team makes a big difference,” she said. “I am very happy [at Wiggle Honda] and things just click.”
The team has been honing their lead-out and sprint finishes in races all year, and all that practice should come to fruition on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday.
“La Course is a big goal for me. Last year, I finished seventh after having crashed with two laps to go. Luck does play a factor on a course like that. People are nervous and twitchy. The stakes are high and everyone wants to prove themselves,” she said. “If luck is in my favour and I can stay upright, then I’m certainly shooting for a podium spot.”
Following La Course, the focus will be on the World Championships in Richmond.
“Yes, the big target for this season is the World Championships in Richmond. It’s my first World Championship, which is exciting. I have never raced at that level of competition before,” she said.
And instead of being intimidated, the 25-year-old is looking forward to it.
“With lots of turns, a couple small climbs and even some cobblestones, the course is almost Belgian,” she said. “I very much look forward to it.”
Yet despite her success on the road this season, her biggest goals lie on the velodrome.
“Until after Rio, my real focus in on the track. I won the omnium at a [Track] World Cup race, got second at the European Track Championships and in general made my way in the top five most races last season. This year, I want to be a consistent podium finisher,” she said.
Given these ambitions, it’s unlikely that d’Hoore will spend her spring on the road.
“But what I’ll do after Rio…I do not know yet. It could very well be that I’ll move around my goals a bit to include more road,” she hinted.
When asked if she likes road or track racing better, d’Hoore laughed.
“That’s a question people often ask me. And it’s difficult to say. I actually very much enjoy the combination of road and track,” she said. “During the road season, I look forward to the track and when I’m on the track, I look forward to the road. They keep each other balanced. But the moment I’m very much enjoying racing on the road.”
Follow Jolien as her journey on the road continues this Sunday at La Course.
HOW TO FOLLOW LA COURSE ON SUNDAY
- The official hashtag is #LaCourse
- Sarah Connolly has her twitter list that all the accounts that might live-tweet during the race.
- The official social channels for La Course may be a good source of information on the day: Twitter, Facebook, Daily Motion
- Specialized is the official performance bike sponsor of La Course by Le Tour, and, as such, will have access to behind-the-scenes information that they will share on their social channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
LA COURSE ON ELLA
- What you need to know about La Course
- A ‘ Le Grand Boucle’ throwback with Meredith Miller on racing the women’s French Grand Tour in 2003. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t all that glamourous
- Live Twitter updates at CyclingTipsLive. We’ll be live tweeting Champs-side from the Specialized VIP Tribune.
- An Ella Instagram Takeover from one of the Boels-Dolmans La Course riders.
- A race report – of course! This is your place for a run through of all the basic action from the day, including full results and early images.
- A big beautiful photo gallery put together in conjunction with Balint Hamvas of cyclephotos.