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What a women's cycling week! Thüringen Rundfahrt, Tour de Bretagne and BeNe Ladies Tour

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You'd think that after the Giro Rosa finished, the women's peloton would have a bit of a break, but no! It split into three parts and was racing all over Europe....and we have lots of video to prove it! Huge thanks to JohnnySteeler for finding most of the links in this one!

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Thüringen Rundfahrt, 14th-20th July 2014

Thüringen is one of the biggest and best races of the year, and one that riders absolutely love to race and spectators to come to, as everything's easy and fun - and former Olympic star Vera Hohlfeld and her team make it a wonderful race.  A lot of people have questioned why it's so close to the Giro, and at the same time as the Tour de France, but they have had this spot on the calendar for years - it's just that the Tour, and therefore the Giro, moved, and Thüringen couldn't.  A 7-day race in 7 different towns, with the whole race staying in one hotel, that's run by volunteers just can't skip around the calendar willy-nilly, and so this year they really suffered.  It's a huge shame, but if the UCI calendar is going to be reformed (and we all know it needs to be) changes need to be planned with a lot more notice.  Anyway, I'll get off my soap-box and get on with the racing!

Please note - the German news videos might not stay around forever, so apologies if you're reading this and they're broken links!

It's a race with a lot of hills, in some gorgeous parts of Thüringen, in east Germany.  Each stage starts, finishes and passes through the same town - and these towns have lots of cobbles that are often sharp-edged.  There can be some really technical sections, and big crowds out to celebrate, with beer and sausages - and lots of podium fun, especially for riders who've never tasted the strong German beer that they celebrate with instead of fizzy wine!

The biggest teams were Boels-Dolmans, whose star Lizzie Armitstead skipped the Giro for this race, and Specialized-lululemon, who not only had last year's third-placed rider Lisa Brennauer, but also two riders racing their very own Grand Tour in Evelyn Stevens and Trixi Worrack.  They finished the Giro on Sunday and raced the Thüringen prologue on Monday...

Prologue, 4.1km, Gotha

Video from German news MDR.de

No big surprise in the results - well, except for Lizzie Armitstead finishing in the top 10 despite a puncture mid-race!

Full Prologue results

1.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 0:05:58
2.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:09
3.   Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
4.   Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Germany, s.t.
5.   Sarah Roy (Aus) Australia, + 00:10
6.   Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, + 00:16
7.   Romy Kasper (Ger) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:18
8.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr)  Boels-Dolmans, s.t.
9.   Elke Gebhardt (Ger) Bigla, + 00:20
10. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Maxx Solar, + 00:21

***

Stage 1, 105.4km, Erfurt

Fun, steep hills - and lots of attacking before a three-woman break from Armitstead, Brennauer and Stevens, with Armitstead out-sprinting the two Spec-lulus.  Boels-Dolmans race report, with great finish-line photo, German short report and Lisa teaches Evie about local culture.

Full Stage 1 results

1.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr)  Boels-Dolmans, 2:47:25 + 16" bonifications
2.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t., + 9" bonis
3.   Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:01, + 4" bonifications
4.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:47, + 3" bonis
5.   Sarah Roy (Aus) Australia, s.t.
6.   Riejanne Markus (Ned) ParkHotel Valkenburg, s.t.
7.   Elise Delzenne (Fra) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
8.   Katarzyna Wilkos (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun, s.t.
9.   Annelies van Doorslaer (Bel) Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, s.t.
10. Beate Zanner (Ger) Maxx Solar, s.t.

***

Stage 2, 103.7km, Schleiz

Video here - German race report - and Boels mini-report with happy finish-line photo

It had been a two-woman dual between 2 Germans - another Boels rider Romy Kasper and local heroine, 8-time World Champion, and the rider who was the equivalent of Marianne Vos when Vos was learning her trade - the incredible Hanka Kupfernagel, riding for Maxx-Solar, a team set up by race organiser and Hanka's former rival and German national team-mate Hohlfeld.  They attacked around the 30km mark, and were joined by Kupfernagel's Kiwi team-mate Reta Trotman with about 40km to go. Unfortunately Kupfernagel crashed on the final descent, and Kasper showed us once again that Boels have a ton of strings to their bow, while Armitstead won the sprint for third out of a group of 16, with the GC bonifications taking her 2nd on GC, 6 seconds behind Brennauer.

Stage 2 results

1.   Romy Kasper (Ger) Boels-Dolmans, 2:55:25, + 13" bonifications
2.   Reta Trotman (NZl) Maxx Solar, + 00:02, + 6" bonis
3.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:29, + 5" bonis
4.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.,
5.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.
6.   Deisree Ehrler (Swi) Bigla, s.t.
7.   Gracie Elvin (Aus) Australia, s.t.
8.   Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, s.t.
9.   Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Germany, s.t.
10. Annelies van Doorslaer (Bel) Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, s.t.

***

Stage 3, 21km ITT, Gera


More video - German.

It's a hard TT course, out and back on the same hilly road, with a loop over a hill in the middle - and showing their TT power, it was all-Specialized, all the time - and Stevens back into second place on GC, 51" behind Brennauer, with Armitstead in third again, +1:48.

Stage 3 results

1.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 0:28:59
2.   Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:17
3.   Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:49
4.   Esther Fennel (Ger) Koga Ladies-Central Rhede, + 01:23
5.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 01:29
6.   Gracie Elvin (Aus) Australia, + 01:39
7.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 01:42
8.   Reta Trotman (NZl) Maxx Solar, + 01:58
9.   Madeleine Ortmüller (Ger) Germany, + 02:08
10. Elke Gebhardt (Ger) Bigla, + 02:13

Here's a video from the Boels team car following the latest scion of a great Dutch cycling dynasty - young Nicky Zijlaard, only just out of the juniors:


***

Stage 4, 127.9km, Saafeld

German video from the stage - Boels-Dolmans mini race report -  and Kiwi Reta Trotman was third, and she talks about it afterwards, before she'd even caught her breath!


More video -  young rider Demi de Jong talking in Dutch about the stage.

This was another hard one, with three really big hills - again, lots of attacks, and Armitstead finally got away on the final climb, with only  Evelyn Stevens able to follow, Armitstead doing everything to try to drop Stevens and gain GC points, but just not managing it, while Trotman and Brennauer fought behind them.

Stage 4 results

1.   Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, 3:35:33, + 10" bonifications
2.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:01, + 12" bonis
3.   Reta Trotman (NZl) Maxx Solar, + 02:08, + 5" bonis
4.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 02:13, + 1" boni
5.   Paulina Brzezna-Bentkowska (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun, + 02:34
6.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.. + 4" bonis
7.   Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, s.t.
8.   Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, s.t.
9.   Jo Hogan (Aus) Bigla, + 02:36
10.  Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Germany, + 02:37

Stevens took over the GC lead on her 15th consecutive day of racing, 56" ahead of Armitstead and 1:31 to Brennauer 

***

Stage 5, 112.8km, Schmölln

MDR.de video from the stage - and here's second-placed Taryn Heather talking about the stage and how it played out


Another WielerVideos filmpje - Bianca van den Hoek, talking in Dutch, with more great footage of the thigh-biting cobbled climb (ouch!) - and German mini race report - and Boels mini report.

As Trotman said, the Maxx-Solar team were out on a mission to show the world how good they are, and thank Hohlfeld for their chances - and on this circuit race with steep, sharp cobbled climbs and technical descents, it was Beate Zanner's turn, with a 100km breakaway with Heather for her first ever UCI win.  Behind them, Armitstead chased, but this time she couldn't shake off Stevens and the Spec-lulu crew.

Stage 5 results

1.   Beate Zanner (Ger) Maxx Solar, 3:14:11, + 19" bonifications
2.   Taryn Heather (Aus) Australia, s.t., + 12"
3.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 03:44, + 4" bonis
4.   Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 03:45
5.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 03:46. + 41" bonis
6.   Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
7.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
8.   Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, + 03:55
9.   Katarzyna Wilkos (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun, + 04:06
10. Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier (Ger) Germany, s.t.

***

Stage 6, 110km, Zeulenroda-Triebes

The last stage video - Boels report

Of course the last stage was super-tough, with 3 climbs of the "Hanka-berg", named after Kupfernagel, and it was one of those stage where the live-tweets couldn't keep up with the action, there was so much of it, especially with Boels fighting for the GC and all the other teams and riders going for their last-ditch attempt at glory - but it all came down to sprinting....

Stage 6 results

1.    Elke Gebhardt (Ger) Bigla, 3:16:01, + 10" bonifications
2.    Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, s.t., + 6" bonis
3.    Reta Trotman (NZl) Maxx Solar, + 00:01, + 4" bonis
4.    Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, + 00:02
5.    Paulina Brzezna-Bentkowska (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun,
6.    Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, s.t.
7.    Melanie Wotsch (Ger) Stevens - Hytera, s.t.
8.    Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
9.    Jacqueline Hahn (Aut) Bigla, s.t.
10.  Anna Plichta (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun, s.t.

One of the teams that fought all the way was the Australian National Team - here's the stage's Most Competitive Rider Sarah Roy talking about the stage and the race afterwards


It had been a competition right from the start between Boels and Specialized - but the Spec-lulus won, taking their first European victory of 2014.

Final General Classification

1.   Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, 16:28:21
2.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:42
3.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, + 01:31
4.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 04:15
5.   Reta Trotman (NZl) Maxx Solar, + 04:40
6.   Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Germany, + 06:01
7.   Beate Zanner (Ger) Maxx Solar, + 06:21
8.   Jo Hogan (Aus) Bigla, + 02:36
9.   Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, + 07:05
10. Anna Plichta (Pol) TKK Pacific Torun, + 07:07

Anna Plichta won the Best Young Rider classification, Specialized-lululemon unsurprisingly won the team prize, and although Armitstead couldn't win the GC, she went home with the Sprint and the Mountains jerseys, and a big smile

We'll be talking about this more very soon, but if you've ever wondered what the Commonwealth Games are all about, Aschwin also interviewed Armitstead and Gracie Elvin about what they are and what they mean:


So Evie Stevens winning on her 17th consecutive day of racing shows how much the UCI limits are necessary, right?  Of course not everyone would be comfortable racing that, but Stevens has raced more days in a row than the Tour de France men, and they're not easy races, either.  The fantastic Aschwin Kruders, who made all the great WielerVideo interviews, spoke to her about that, and more:


Someone else who was on 17 racing days in a row was Boels-Dolmans mechanic Richard Steege, who deserves a huge holiday after working and live-tweeting both the Giro and Thüringen.  I can't emphasise enough how he and other live tweeters like Rab-Liv's Sem Versteeg and Hitec's Karl Lima do for the sport - it's a luxury that's become normal to have blow-by-blow accounts of the racing, and if you want to tweet them and thank them, I know they'd appreciate it.

***

Tour de Bretagne, 16th-20th July

Bretagne is usually more of a development race - but this year the ranks were bolstered by pro teams Astana-BePink, RusVelo, Lointek and TopGirls Fassa Bortolo... and speaking of Karl Lima, "the biggest small team in cycling, Hitec Products, whose star Elisa Longo Borghini just had two rest (or travel?) days between finishing 4th overall and in the Best Italian jersey at the Giro, and racing in Brittany, but I bet you can guess what happened... (it's France, so we have TONS of home-made video to love!)

Prologue, 2km


Prologue results

1.   Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, 0:03:13
2.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, + 00:02
3.   Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Rusvelo, + 00:03
4.   Anouska Koster (Ned) NWV Groningen - Bike4AIR, s.t.
5.   Jutta Steinen (Sui) Switzerland, + 00:05
6.   Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, s.t.
7.   Sarah Storey (GBr) Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International, s.t.
8.   Evgeniya Romanyuta (Rus) Russia, s.t.
9.   Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana-BePink, + 00:06
10. Larissa Brühwiler (Sui) Switzerland, s.t.

Here's the podium, with interviews


***

Stage 1, St Meen Le Grand, 90km

More road-side video from Stage 1


and another one, from the start and finish-line.

A big flattish 90km loop, then 4 laps of a flat 5km circuit - and a solo winner taking the GC lead!

Stage 1 results

1.   Doris Schweizer (Sui) Astana-BePink, 3:28:16
2.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, + 00:11
3.   Anouska Koster (Ned) NWV Groningen - Bike4AIR, s.t.
4.   Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Rusvelo, s.t.
5.   Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, s.t.
6.   Mirjam Gysling (Siu) Haibike by Wolf Clothing, s.t.
7.   Roxane Fournier (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, s.t.
8.   Jessie Walker (GBr) Matrix-Vulpine, s.t.
9.   Fiona Dutriaux (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, s.t.
10. Mascha Pijnenborg (Ned) NWV Groningen - Bike4AIR, s.t.

***

Stage 2, Radenac, 11km ITT

Another stage, another time trial - and this one won by Paralympic superstar, Dame Sarah Storey, who has 22 Paralympic medals across swimming and cycling, 11 of them gold, and recently came 3rd in the British National ITT Champs. Cordon's 3rd place took her into the GC leader's jersey, and you know Hitec didn't want to let it go....

Stage 2 results

1.   Sarah Storey (GBr) Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International, 0:15:21
2.   Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, + 00:05
3.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, + 00:06
4.   Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) Astana-BePink, + 00:10
5.   Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, s.t.
6.   Mélodie Lesueur (Fra) Lointek, + 00:22
7.   Evgeniya Romanyuta (Rus) Russia, + 00:24
8.   Nicole Hanselmann (Sui) Switzerland, s.t.
9.   Doris Schweizer (Sui) Astana-BePink, + 00:31
10. Coralie Demay (Fra) Equipe DN Bretagne, + 00:36

Podium interviews


***

Stage 3, Gwuingamp-Yffiniac, 94km


Oh the peloton does like to be by the seaside, with the fresh sea air, and with lovely sea brezes, Hitec gave a bit of a lesson in how to race, with Longo Borghini winning solo, Cordon breaking away to come second, handing the GC jersey over the her team-mate, and Latvian rider Vita Heine leading a group of 5 across the line.

Stage 3 results

1.   Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, 3:23:06
2.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, + 00:27
3.   Vita Heine (Lat) + 00:55
4.   Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, s.t.
5.   Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, s.t.
6.   Doris Schweizer (Sui) Astana-BePink, s.t.
7.   Lucie Pader (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, s.t.
8.   Mélodie Lesueur (Fra) Lointek, + 02:41
9.   Marion Sicot (Fra) Team Féminin Région Centre, s.t.
10. Fiona Dutriaux (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, + 02:59

***

Stage 4, Lampaul Ploudalmezeau- Landivisiau, 103km


Here's more road-side video from the final stage - and the missing lap from that film is here!

Another stage, another day at the seaside, with some gently rolling terrain running right by the coast - 75km and then 6 laps of a 5km circuit... and more Hitec!

Stage 4 results

1.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, 2:34:10
2.   Jutta Steinen (Sui) Switzerland, + 00:01
3.   Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, s.t.
4.   Soraya Paladin (Ita) TopGirls Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
5.   Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana-BePink, s.t.
6.   Doris Schweizer (Sui) Astana-BePink, + 00:10
7.   Nicole Hanselmann (Sui) Switzerland, + 00:28
8.   Sara Olsson (Swe) Hitc Products, s.t.
9.   Pascale Jeuland (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, + 00:41
10. Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, + 01:04

So that final General Classification wasn't a surprise - but huge congatulations to Hitec for the demonstration, and to all the non-pro riders who refused to let the big teams have it all their own way!

Final General Clasification

1.   Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products, 9:44:19
2.   Audrey Cordon (Fra) Hitec Products, + 00:08
3.   Doris Schweizer (Sui) Astana-BePink, + 01:14
4.   Aude Biannic (Fra) Lointek, + 02:07
5.   Lucie Pader (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, + 03:15
6.   Vita Heine (Lat) + 03:18
7.   Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86, + 03:19
8.   Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Astana-BePink, + 03:41
9.   Jutta Steinen (Sui) Switzerland, + 03:48
10.  Nicole Hanselmann (Sui) Switzerland, + 03:56

***

BeNe Ladies Tour, 19th-20th July

The final race of the week was a brand new one - three stages over two days in Belgium and Holland, with some fantastic social media to boot.  All the wind, cobbles and tough sprinting you imagine from those areas!  You can follow the race as it unfolded with the #BNLT14 hashtag and the superb race twitter -

Stage 1, 103.6km, Sint Lauriens, Belgium

Here's WTV.be video from Stage 1 - and Jolien D'Hoore describes how the race went

Stage 1 race report and photos from ORICA-AIS

Stage 1 results

1.   Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, 2:28:26
2.   Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Shimano, s.t.
3.   Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
4.   Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
5.   Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
6.   Megan Guarnier (USA) USA, s.t.
7.   Julie Leth (Den) Hitec Products, s.t.
8.   Nina Kessler (Ned) DAK-Plusine, s.t.
9.   Nel de Crits (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen,s .t.
10. Sanne Cant (Bel) Belgium. s.t.

More photos from stage 1 on the race website -

***

Stage 2a, 9.7km ITT, Philippine, Netherlands

Sunday was a big day, starting with the ITT and ending with a road race, and Emma Johansson took over the GC lead with her win.

Stage 2a results

1.   Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, 0:12:22
2.   Vera Koedooder (Ned) Bigla) + 00:05
3.   Brianna Walle (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.
4.   Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
5.   Shara Gillow (Aus) ORICA-AIS, + 00:09
6.   Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, + 00:11
7.   Jessie Maclean  (Aus) ORICA-AIS, + 00:12
8.   Megan Guarnier (USA) USA, + 00:16
9.   Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:19
10. Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Bigla, + 00:21

More photos from Krist Vanmelle

***

Stage 2b, 86km, Philippine

Stage 2b video from Omroep Zeeland - and another little video with Johansson, D'Hoore and the organisers talking about the race, with cobbles!  And a longer interview with Johanssson (in Dutch and D'Hoore.

Stage 2b results

1.   Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, 2:08:48
2.   Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, s.t.
3.   Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Shimano, s.t.
4.   Megan Guarnier (USA) USA, s.t.
5.   Rossella Ratto (Ita) Estado de Mexico-Faren, s.t.
6.   Kendall Ryan (USA) USA, s.t.
7.   Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen,s .t.
8.   Moniek Tenniglo (Ned) Jan van Arckel, s.t.
9.   Monique van de Ree (Ned) ParkHotel Valkenberg, s.t.
10. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, s.t.

Photos of Stage 2b by Krist Vanmelle

The results were delayed because of a big crash in the end of the race.  It had been a stage full of crashes and bad luck, with ORICA's road captain Loes Gunnewijk breaking her shoulder, and Emma Johansson having all sorts of bad luck on a stressful stage - read the race report and photos on the ORICA-AIS website with Johansson quotes. But despite all of that, Johansson's results meant she took the General Classification overall.

Final General Classification

1.   Emma Johansson (Swe) ORICA-AIS, 4:49:23
2.   Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, + 00:02
3.   Shara Gillow (Aus) ORICA-AIS, + 00:22
4.   Amy Pieters (Ned) Liv-Shimano, + 00:23
5.   Megan Guarnier (USA) USA, + 00:29
6.   Leah Kirchmann (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 00:32
7.   Vera Koedooder (Ned) Bigla) + 00:36
8.   Liesbet de Vocht (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, + 00:42
9.   Jade Wilcoxson  (USA) USA, + 01:03
10. Nina Kessler (Ned) DAK-Plusine, 01:25

***

Wow!  That's a LOT of video!  And as Babelia said on twitter, a great week for the Es, with GC wins for Evie, Elisa and Emma!  Let's talk about it all in the comments - and of course, anything else you've seen from the races, add it to the comments.  Up next?  La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday......