And where were we? Pau, that’s where, for La Course by Le Tour de France (WWT15). Now in its 6th edition and nth incarnation, this time it saw an Ardennes-style jaunt based on laps of the Tour TT course. Unpromising as that sounds, ASO got it reasonably right, producing an interesting race if not an unexpected result. (TotW probably preferred last year’s high mountains though.)
- Marianne Vos : If last year’s La Course seemed like Giro stage 11, even at the distance of a week—and on a very different parcours—so did this one. Vos picked up where she’d left off after four Giro stage wins, holding tight through a busy race before charging irresistibly round the final bend and up the climb. Rider of the Week. Who else?
- Amanda Spratt : A valiant solo break at La Course, eventually swallowed up on the final climb. Good effort, though not the first time this season Mitchelton’s (and Annemiek van Vleuten’s) attempts to put Spratt into a winning position haven’t quite come off.
- Riejanne Markus: When the tv commentators were wondering aloud if the peloton had got its calculations right, CCC-Liv’s Markus was unruffled on the front, making sure La Course came back nicely for Vos. Observers of the Giro will have been smiling wryly. (And she makes her own highlights videos.)
- Lisa Klein : Won the BeNe Ladies Tour with wins in the prologue and the stage 2b time trial, her second stage race victory of the season after the HAT earlier in the year.
- Leah Kirchmann : Followed up a splendid if somewhat empty-handed Giro with an excellent second behind Vos at La Course.
- Marlen Reusser: Another of cycling’s late-starting medics, Reusser won the Minsk European Games TT and the double at the Swiss national champs, then last week finished third on the BeNe Ladies Tour podium behind Klein and Amy Pieters.
Team of the Week
Obligatory La Course Handwaving
TotW was pleased to see journalist Peter Cossins down the front of Marianne Vos’s presser, a year after he complained it was impossible to cover La Course and and Le Tour on the same day. Sadly the empty room suggests there haven’t been many more Damascene conversions. Still, perhaps chastened (TotW remains to be convinced) by their grand L-B-L/F-W PR disaster, ASO might yet have plans for a standalone women’s race. TotW’s scepticism remains fully engaged, both over whether this will happen and whether newly-enthusiastic journos will be sent there in their droves.
Cruel Handwave of Fate of the Week
TotW is not the biggest fan of the Ride London so-called ‘Classique’, but this year was rather looking forward to a three-way sprint showdown on the Mall between Wild, Wiebes and D’hoore next weekend. Alas, it’s not to be. After missing most of the classics season with a broken collarbone, Jolien D’hoore broke her elbow in a massive final km pile-up at the BeNe Ladies’ Tour. With an estimated 6-8 weeks out, TotW’s dream match up might have to wait until next season.
Ominous Sign of the Week
Marta Bastianelli won the Italian road race champs at the weekend, beating all those young trackies on whose behalf the race had been delayed. Vos and maybe even Deignan have probably overtaken her as favourites for the Worlds over the last few weeks, while she had time off following her extraordinary spring. But the tricolore jersey is a reminder of the threat Bastianelli will be, especially with a super-strong Italian team behind her.
db99’s Velomaniacs had their hands in air with a La Course-winning team that included Vos, Uttrup, Brand and Niewiadoma. The Bethinhas top the league for another week but with a lead of less than 600 pts, they’re still not out of sight.
With Giro and La Course results still to come, Yeehoo has a narrow 100 pt lead over long-time leader Vlady. And Shawn, whose team stars Kasia Niewiadoma and Leah Kirchmann, is only 500 or so points back in third.
Our La Course winner is Aquatarkus who wisely chose Vos, Uttrup and Van Vleuten. Of the five hardy survivors who’ve made it this far, Mr Verbiage is still way out in front.
Next race: the aforementioned Ride London Classique next Saturday. Come on, give it a go and make us grizzled veterans look daft.