Photo gallery: The emotion of that thrilling finish at La Course 2018

by Simone Giuliani

It looked like it was all over. With 500 metres to go even the tenacious Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was convinced she wouldn’t be defending her La Course title at this year’s mountainous 112.5 kilometre event, which ran alongside stage 10 of the Tour de France.

The Giro Rosa winner had just flown down the Col de la Colombiere in pursuit of Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, but the Boels-Dolmans rider was still holding the pace and a gap that just wouldn’t evaporate. Chasing down van der Breggen — who had the advantage of fresh legs after skipping the Giro Rosa — looked like too big an ask.

But then, with the finish line so close, the gap between van der Breggen and van Vleuten started to contract. Van Vleuten had put it in a big gear and was rocking as she wrestled her bike powerfully up the final pinch to the line. In the meantime van der Breggen was spinning away, asking her legs to give her just a little more for a few metres, but they just weren’t responding.

This was the chance that van Vleuten had held on for. Willing her body and mind through the accumulated fatigue from a brutally tough Giro Rosa, she passed van der Breggen mere meters from the line. The jubilation written all over her face soon turned to exhausted, joyful tears.

It was so different from van Vleuten’s comfortable solo run to the line last year — the suspense probably made the win all that much sweeter, for the rider and fans alike. The world was watching, and the women’s peloton had delivered a thrilling, emotion-filled performance.

Here’s a selection of images from the race, courtesy of Cor Vos.


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