This Saturday sees the 8th edition of La Course by Le Tour de France avec FDJ roll out on the roads of Brest. Although rerouted and rescheduled to accommodate local voting, the new course still looks set to elect a worthy winner.
Starting in Brest, the peloton will wind its way out of the city, over the iconic Pont de l’Iroise. Upon reaching the Southern side of the Élorn river the neutral flag will be dropped on what is set to be a challenging 107.4km race.
The first climb of the day comes just 8km into the race with the category 4 Côte de Trebeolin. At 900m in length and a gradient of 5.1% it is bound to provide the ammunition for the opening salvos of attacks as teams look to animate the race early on.
After 45km of undulating racing through the western Britanny department of Finistère, the peloton will enter the finishing circuit via the first of 4 ascents of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups (3km at 5.1%). The category 3 climb is a ‘leg-sapper’ with the opening 500m ramp at 9.4% especially testing. The climb is likely to shape the race herein; first whittling down the bunch and later as a launch pad for potentially race winning moves.
After the first ascent, the peloton faces 3 laps of the finishing circuit around Landerneau with the finish line atop the final summit of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups. With a total of 1800m of climbing and the summit finish, the race has an Ardennes classic feel to it favouring the punchy and powerful climbers.
Riders to Watch
Defending champion, Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), will be looking to retain her title this year and the course certainly plays to her strengths. The Brit had a slow start to the season due to illness, but with her recent win at the inaugural Tour de Suisse she is clearly finding her form at the right time. With the Olympics around the corner she’ll be looking to continue this upwards trajectory with another win at La Course on Saturday. Teammate Elisa Longo Borghini will also be a rider to watch. The Italian had a great spring campaign and with her recent National Road and TT titles she’ll be another strong card for Trek-Segafredo to play.
Former winner in 2014 and 2019, Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) was just pipped to the line in Nice last year and so she’ll be motivated to go one better this time round. The 34 year old Dutch woman returns from a block of altitude training in Sierra Nevada so will be hoping she can capitalise on the ‘oxygen boost’ to notch up a third career La Course victory.
As ever the SD Worx squad is impressively strong and they line up with several race-winning candidates amongst their midst. World Champion, Anna van der Breggen, comes into the race fresh off her National TT win and an overall GC victory at the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. The ‘Queen of the Ardennes’ thrives on courses like this and with 6 wins already this season she is undoubtedly a pre-race favourite. Teammate and compatriot, Demi Vollering is also one to watch and after her victory at Liege Bastogne Liege in April, she’s a proven winner on terrain such as this. They’re joined by this year’s Strade Bianche winner, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and newly crowned Dutch road champion – Amy Pieters.
4th in last year’s race, Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM), will be hoping to rise to the top spot on Côte de la Fosse aux Loups this weekend. The 26 year old has had a solid season this year but is yet to raise her arms aloft in 2021 – will this be the weekend?
Australian squad Team BikeExchange bring a strong team to the race. Led by Amanda Spratt and Grace Brown they’ll look to animate the race. 28 year old Brown has had a great year thus far with victory at De Panne and 3rd in Flanders and the finishing climb should suit her strengths well.
French team, FDJ, will certainly want to take home the honours on home soil and with Cecillie Ludwig Uttrup they have a good chance. The 25 year old Dane, took her much anticipated first World Tour win on Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas last month, and she’ll be hoping her winning form continues on Saturday. Alongside Uttrup, Evita Muzic will also be motivated to christen her new tricolour jersey as French national champion with a strong result too.
Other riders to watch include neo-pro Kristen Faulkner (Team Tibco-SVB), Spanish Champion Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana) and Julliette Labous (Team DSM).
When: 26th June, 8.40am (CET)
Where: Brittany, France
What: 108km hilly road race
Who to watch:
Anna van der Breggen *****
Lizze Deignan ****
Marianne Vos ****
Demi Vollering ****
Top Outsider: Mavi Garcia
TV Coverage: GCN+