2013 GP de Plouay World Cup - why it's a great race and how to follow it

http://www.grandprix-plouay.com

On Saturday 31st August, it’ll be the final round of the 2013 Road World Cup, one of the most prestigious titles in the women’s cycling calendar. This year’s series was already won by Marianne Vos, as her Open de Suède Vårgårda win gave her unbeatable points, but the GP de Plouay is still always an exciting, brilliant race to watch – and it’s sometimes streamed live outside France, too!

Before I tell you how to follow it, here are some of my favourite Plouay moments - in 2010, Vos was in a breakaway with Emma Pooley, Judith Arndt and Emma Johansson, and has this amazing moment just before the final climb, where Vos looked back over her left shoulder to check where the others were, just as Pooley launched a beautiful attack up the right....  Gorgeous riding!  Here's the clip, or fast forward to 1:40 for POOOOOOOOLLEEEYYY!!!

Then there was 2011, when Pooley was in a break that included Annemiek van Vleuten and Evelyn Stevens, and had attacked off the front...  Vos leapt out of the chasing group, descended like a demon, reached the group, worked her backside off for AvV to catch Pooley, and then, a superb finale battle between Stevens and Van Vleuten....  so much happiness, watching that! (Plouay starts at 17:45)

So much great riding!  So, what will 2013 be like?

The course

I have to admit, last year they changed the course from what you see in those two videos - from 6 laps of 19km, to 5 x 27km - adding the extra loop, so there's more of a flat to hill ratio.  Here's the map from last year, with profiles - or go to the excellent Velofocus preview for the google map and the profiles he's worked out.  It's nice and hilly, and as with all the World Cup circuit races, every time they hit one of those hills, they'll burn off whole groups of riders - and of course, when you have those descents, and riders like Vos there, the hills are just the start of the problems...

Last year, Tiffany Cromwell came second, so I was very happy to read her preview of the race on the ORICA-AIS website. There will be stacks of great information on Le Blog de Gwéna and VeloNova, two fantastic French women's cycling websites - and I'm sure if streams appear, the VeloNova twitter will tell us.

There are also previews on Les Déesses de la Route and Velorooms.  Of course, there's a lot of information about the whole Plouay weekend on the race website.  The best startlist is on Cycling Fever....  watch out for Vos, Johansson, Cromwell, Stevens - and for riders back in the peloton after injury, if they have their form back, Ash Moolman and Elisa Longo Borghini...

How to follow the race

The race is shown on French tv, France 3, from 15:20 CEST (or 2:20pm BST; 9:20am USA EDT; 11:20pm Aus AEST).  It'll apparently be streamed on France 3 Bretagne, but it may be geo-restricted, but if you can't see it, there may be streams of it.   Here's the tv guide for the whole Plouay weekend.

I have no idea what the Plouay tv website is (except it launches with music!) but this may be worth watching on Saturday, too.

There will be a live-thread here on Podium Café, where people will chat through the race - and people are really great about posting any links they see in the comments, so on Saturday, head to the women's section and look for the post.

If you can't follow it with video, you can follow on twitter - my live-tweeting list is updated for the race.  I won't be able to watch it live, but of course I'll post links to the videos I find here afterwards.   How did I manage to double-book myself on the weekend with Plouay and the MTB World Champs being streamed?  I've no idea, but I'm kicking myself!

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