Just a day after the concluding stage of the Simac Ladies Tour and with barely a moment to catch a breath, the Women’s World Tour peloton heads to France for the Grand Prix de Plouay Lorient Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit.
A long standing event on the women’s calendar, Plouay is an aggressive and exciting race and will serve up a thrilling 14th round of the WWT series.
‘The’ summer classic has used similar circuits since its inception in 2002 and the punchy, challenging terrain makes for a battle of attrition where only the strongest triumph. This year the 150km race comprises 11 laps of a tough 13.7km loop and will see the peloton tackle over 2300m of climbing.
With three classified climbs sprinkled over the lap – Côte du Lézot (1.4km, 3.9%), Monté de Lann Payot (1.3km, 2.6%) and Côte du Pont-Neuf (1.5km 4.2%) – the climbing comes in quick succession. The narrow Bretton roads will also intensify the fight for position too, making the run-in to the base of every climb as equally hard fought as the climb itself. With a total of 33 classified climbs as well as the numerous drags and kickers, the 20th edition of the race will certainly be a relentless affair.
Riders to Watch
All eyes will be on the undisputed queen of Plouay – Lizzie Deignan (Trek – Segafredo). The 32 year old Brit, thrives in races of attrition and is the only rider (male or female) to have amassed three career wins at Plouay. Winner in 2015, 2017 and 2020, the defending champion will be bidding to make it a historic fourth victory this Monday.
Deignan’s teammate, Elisa Longo Borghini, will also be another card for Trek-Segafredo to play. 2nd at the European championships in Plouay last year, the Italian climber is well suited to the demanding nature of Breton roads. The 29-year-old national champion has had a great season this year with a win at Trofeo Alfredo Binda alongside multiple podiums including 3rd at Fleche, Liege and most recently taking home an Olympic Road Race bronze. 4th in the WWT rankings she’ll be hoping to accumulate some more points with a result at Plouay.
SDWorx’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is another climber who will fare well on this unrelenting course. The South African comes to Plouay off the back of two consecutive second places in the WWT series (Norway and the Giro) and she’ll be hoping to rise to the top step of the podium this Monday. Teammate Anna van der Breggen will also be vying for the win. The winner of Plouay in 2019, the 31 year old ‘Queen of the Ardennes’, always excels on punchy climbs and in races of attrition. Having had a post Olympic break, van der Breggen will return to racing refreshed and looking to add another victory to her impressive 2021 tally.
French team, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, will be led by Marta Cavalli and Evita Muzic and they’ll be hoping for a win on home soil. Muzic sits second in the WWT youth rankings and bedecked in the tricolour jersey as French National Champion, she’ll be motivated to perform well. Is 2021 the year FDJ can secure their first ever podium at Plouay?
Team DSM’s French rider – Juliette Labous – will also be a rider to watch. The 22-year-old won the best young rider jersey at the Giro, Tour of Brittany and Tour of California in 2019. A rider who enjoys hilly parcours she’ll be looking to be at the head of affairs on Monday. Teammate Coryn Rivera provides another tactic for Team DSM to play too. The Californian has achieved two podiums at Plouay in the last few years with a 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in 2019. She’ll be hoping her run of great form continues and she can power her way to the top step of the podium this time round.
Compatriot, Kristen Faulkner (Team Tibco) is having a breakthrough season and she’ll look to build on the impressive form she’s displayed this year. A former venture capitalist, the 28 year old Alaskan, had a great debut European spring campaign with top 10s at Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders. After her third overall at the recent Tour of Norway, confidence will be high and Faulkner will be hoping for another great performance.
Fellow American, Leah Thomas (Movistar), will also be a rider to watch. In Van Vleuten’s absence she’ll likely assume leadership of the Spanish team and spearhead their bid for a result. A puncheur, the 32 year old is well suited to Plouay and will be hoping to make the key selections.
Other riders who could feature include Soraya Paladin (Liv Racing), Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) and Canyon-Sram’s Mikayla Harvey.
When: 30th August, 12:10pm CET
Where: Plouay, North-West France
What: 150km road race
Riders to watch:
Lizzie Deignan ****
Anna van der Breggen ****
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio ****
Kristen Faulkner ***
Elisa Longo Borghini ***