Preview: Classic Lorient Agglomération – Trophée Ceratizit

The final one-day of the 2022 Women's WorldTour season takes place Saturday in France.

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Classic Lorient Agglomération – Trophée Ceratizit, the one-day classic formerly known as the GP de Plouay, will take place on Saturday the 27th of August under (probably) sunny skies. It’s been a minute, or months, since the last Women’s WorldTour one-day and Classic Lorient Agglomération will also be the last of the season, with the Tour of Guangxi cancelled.

The hilly event has been a staple of the women’s calendar since 2002, and one of the more competitive races this time of year, since the professional peloton uses it as a test for the World Championships that usually come a few weeks later. This year will be a little different, with the Worlds all the way down in Australia the build-up is different for all the riders and it’s possible a few favourites won’t be on the start line.

Classic Lorient Agglomération has been won a few ways, as all good one-days are. Small breakaways, solo, reduced bunch sprints. It’s an interesting one because it can really depend on how the peloton feels on the day, and which teams choose to go for the win.

Since the introduction of the WWT in 2016, Lizzie Deignan has won the race twice (three if you include the World Cup format the women had prior to 2016). The first year the race was WorldTour Eugenia Bujak won from a group of 14, in 2017 and 2020 Deignan won from a two-person move, Amy Pieters took the win in 2018 from a group of 15, and Anna van der Breggen won solo by only 11 seconds in 2019 as did Elisa Longo Borghini in 2021.

Saturday’s race will be an interesting one, and with a new course it might be easy to predict, but rest assured it will be fun to watch. And we will (hopefully) get to see it from start to finish. More on that later.

The Course

For the last six or so years, the race has stuck to some technical circuits. This year, the peloton will venture south of the well-known area around Plouay to the coast before returning to the well-known loops.

The first 131 km before the race enters the circuits are hilly and technical. There is pretty much no let up. However, the climbs are small so it will likely be a relatively large group coming into the first pass of the finish with 23.4 km to go. The next 2 laps of the 11.7 km circuit will be brutal, with two short but challenging climbs and a few technical downhills.

There is basically no flat part of the circuit. The three climbs will entice adventurous riders to attack in the hopes of leaving any remaining sprinters, specifically Marianne Vos, behind. The Bosse de Rostervel, 1.5 km in length and 4.5%, will not be the leg-breaking climb it has been in the past couple of years. What made the climb hard was repetition. The peloton will only take it on twice in the final laps.

The second and third climbs are shorter and steeper than the first, and once the peloton reaches the top of the Bosse de Kerscoulic it’s 3 km downhill to the line.

The final kilometre is a false flat downhill on a pretty straight road, so if the race comes down to a reduced bunch look to the fast women to take it home.

Top Contenders

Interestingly, the one rider who would be almost guaranteed to win, Jumbo-Visma’s Marianne Vos, is not on the startlist. Instead, her Dutch team will look to Coryn Labecki and Anouska Koster. Labecki finished third behind Vos and Amy Pieters in 2018, the climbs are not big enough to take her out of the running and she has a very quick finish. That being said, the American is working her way back from COVID-19 so her form is a bit up in the air. She was recently named to the USA’s Worlds team so she will be using this race as a test ahead of Australia.

Koster rode very well at the Tour of Scandinavia. She spent a bit of time off the front before handing leadership over to Vos. Without the team’s number one star, Koster might get a chance to ride for her own result before she makes the move to Uno-X next season.

After securing second in the first stage and fourth in the second stage of the Tour of Scandinavia it looks like Team DSM’s Megan Jastrab is finding her legs in Europe. The American is only 20 but has an extensive list of impressive results. As she uncovers more confidence in the European peloton she will be one to watch in a handful of the WorldTour one-days, and depending on the rest of the startlist, Classic Lorient Agglomération – Trophée Ceratizit could be her first WorldTour podium. The team will also start Floortje Mackaij, who does well on shorter climbs as there will be in Saturday’s course.

Kasia Niewiadoma returns to the peloton after her successful third overall at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. It’s her first race since the Tour and one she should enjoy, with the technical descents on the circuit.

It would be no surprise to see Kristen Faulkner continue her incredible run this season with a result on Saturday. The American on Team BikeExchange finished third in last year’s edition and is coming in with a lot of confidence after an impressive Giro Donne.

Last year’s winner Elisa Longo Borghini is returning to the peloton after a post-Tour break. The Italian could try her hand on the final circuit, however, the presence of her teammate Elisa Balsamo means Trek-Segafredo is all in for a reduced bunch sprint, especially without Vos or Lorena Wiebes at the race.

FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope is bringing both Grace Brown and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to Plouay. Brown will be in top form as she prepares for the World Championships on home soil and Uttrup has already shown she’s found a new level this season. The French squad have a team tailor-made for attacking, with the inclusion of Brodie Chapman.

Interestingly, there’s not a clear leader lining up for SD Worx. Former world champ Chantal van den Broek-Blaak is the only stand-out rider the Dutch team is bringing, but she hasn’t had quite the form we are used to seeing this season. It will be interesting to see how they approach race.

Although her season didn’t have the same start as in 2021, Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard might be finding her legs. The Dane won the French one-day Kreiz Breizh on Thursday against a lot of the same riders who will race on Saturday.

Finally, should the race lend itself to a small selection or a solo breakaway, Silvia Persico might continue to show the WorldTour riders how it’s done. The Italian on Valcar-Travel & Service is having a dream season and a big win is just around the corner.

CyclingTips star ratings

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Balsamo, Brown
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Niewiadoma, Longo Borghini, Uttrup
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Faulkner, Labecki, Persico
⭐️⭐️: Jastrab, Mackaij, Norsgaard
⭐️: Koster, Chapman, Van den Broek-Blaak

How to watch

It looks like the race will be shown in its entirety on GCN+/Eurosport starting at 10:45 am local time. If that is not the case, updates can be found on Twitter using the hashtag GPPlouay. The final two hours of the race will definitely be live so make sure to tune in.

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