Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
The 2020 season has been full of successful breakaways, and the sprinters of the peloton have not yet had an opportunity to show off their form. That could change on Saturday at La Course by the Tour de France.
When La Course started in 2014 it was solely a one day race, held on the Champs-Élysées. Marianne Vos took home the honors that year. Although many pushed for a full women’s Tour de France, La Course remained on the Champs-Élysées until 2017, when it moved into the mountains. The 2017 edition of the race was different, to say the least. The 67.5km parcours climbed from Briancon to Izoard and was won by Annemiek van Vleuten.
In 2018, La Course followed rolling roads from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, finishing in a nailbiter, where Annemiek van Vleuten caught Anna van der Breggen within the final 50 meters. Last year the course favored a classics style rider. A punchy climber who could handle their bike, aka, Marianne Vos, who was coming off a string of wins at the Giro Rosa.
This year, it’s one for the sprinters. Probably.
For three years La Course has not been for the sprinters. Until this year. With a 19km completely flat, if not slightly downhill, run in to the line, the event is one for the sprinters to lose.
Starting and finish in Nice, the riders start climbing at kilometer one. Averaging 5% for 5.8km, the climb likely can’t break the sprinters who have been chomping at the bit since racing got underway again. The second run up this climb, the Côte de Rimiez, could widdle down one or two of the sprinters, but there’s more than enough time for them to get back to the front with a strong team around them.
Chloe Hosking – Rally Cycling Women
This is a year full of newness for Hosking, who opted for a relatively small American team instead of her usual European outfit. She started off the year on flying form by winning the first stage of the Tour Down Under. Hosking won La Course in 2016 with Wiggle High5 when it was still on the Champs-Élysées. She’s one of the fastest sprinters in the world, and this is her year.
Alison Jackson and Leah Kirchman – Team Sunweb
After spending two years with the American Team Tibco SVB, and consistently landing herself among the top of the field, Alison Jackson made the jump to Team Sunweb for 2020. So far this year Jackson has barely been able to race, only competing in the GP de Plouay on Tuesday, since the season was put on hold, where she still finished 18th. She’s quick, and a darkhorse for La Course.
Jackson will start La Course with her Canadian and Team Sunweb teammate Leah Kirchman, who has shown already in sprints that she can get amongst it. Last year Kirchman finished second to Vos at La Course, not the first time landing herself on the podium at the women’s Tour de France one day, as she finished 3rd in the first edition on the Champs-Élysées. Already in 2020, Kirchman took home the points jersey at the Santos Tour Down Under. The two of them could be an incredible team and it will be exciting to see how they work together this year.
Arlenis Sierra – Astana Womens Team
Sierra’s results were extensive even before she signed for Astana Women’s Team in 2017. After joining the team her results continued to pile up, including stages of the Tour of California, the Pan American Championships, and the Cadel Evans Great Oceanic Road Race in 2019. After winning stage 1 and placing 5th on stage two of the Women’s Herald Sun Tour this year she claimed 3rd on GC and the points classification. Sierra placed 2nd at the first World Tour race this year, the Cadel Evans Great Oceanic Road Race, but did not compete in the other two World Tour races, Strade Bianche and GP de Plouay. Her form is unknown, but she would be far from a surprise winner.
Emma Norsgaard – Paule Ka
Newly crowned Danish national champion Emma Norsgaard has had a bit of success already in sprints this year. In February she won the first stage of Setmana Ciclista Valencia against a strong sprinting field. On top of that, she placed third in Omloop van het Hageland and just this week 3rd in the U23 European Championships. Winning La Course would be an incredible result for this young rider, who has signed for Movistar for the next two years.
Other riders to watch…
Alongside this handful of sprinters, there are other strong riders who have a good chance of a result on Saturday. Marta Bastianelli of Alé BTC Lubjijana was 4th just this week at GP de Plouay, but really made her mark last year winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Trek-Segafredo will bring a strong team to the race as well, although they might need to use some aggressive tactics to take the win. After their performance at GP de Plouay it’s clear they can shake things up from what we expect.
Some teams are not fielding full rosters for the event, bringing five riders, instead of the usual six. CCC-Liv, for example, have announced their five rider roster that includes Marianne Vos.
Some riders are definitely finding their form now with a few races under their belts, while others may be finding the peak too early. La Course could go one of two ways: complete and utter chaos due to the still-insecure season ahead, or riders will want to have a little of a calm race after a hectic week, with the GP de Plouay and also the European Championships.
Where to Watch
Live streams of La Course will be available on various different networks.
The GCN Race Pass app will show almost three hours of coverage, from 10.05 local time, in the UK and Australia. The UK can also watch on ITV4.
In Europe, it will be shown on the Eurosport Player.
FloBikes will have the race in Canada.
For Americans, the NBC Sports Gold package, for $55, gets you La Course and the Tour de France (plus a lot of other ASO races).