A worthy champion of a great race. Marianne Vos’s victory over the fastest sprinters in the world in the final dash for the line heralded a new era. In what was a nervous race with the odds stacked heavily against potential breakaways, any rider who strayed too far from the front had no chance of vying for the win against the grandiose backdrop of the Champs-lyses. The world champion posted a time of 2 h 00’41? to prevail over Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) and Leah Kirchmann (Optum Pro Cycling) at the end of a thrilling final sprint.
The bunch was well aware of the magnitude of La Course when it gathered on the Champs-lyses circuit for the first time at 1 pm. All the riders had hatched their own plans, but the peloton was having none of that. Worrack (Specialized), who attacked twice, and Van Vleuten tried to slip away during the first hour of racing, ridden at an average speed of 44 km/h, but were unable to push their gap beyond 20 seconds. With 36 kilometers to go, it was time for one of the big names to light the fireworks, as Ellen van Dijk went into time trialling mode in a solo bid for glory. Once again, the Dutch rider’s adventure was cut short by the bunch, with Pauline Ferrand-Prvot taking the reins of the race for Rabo Liv.
With 24 withdrawals, what was already proving to be a selective race got even more hectic in the final three kilometers. Having suffered a flat earlier on, Kirsten Wild was quickly shepherded back to the peloton by her teammates and was ideally positioned on Marianne Vos’s wheel as the bunch rolled under the 2 km banner.
Following Ferrand-Prvot’s spectacular fall with 900 meters to go, it was Lisa Brennauer’s turn to go off the front inside the final kilometer. Alas, the German champion took off too early and was overtaken with 100 meters to go by Wild and Vos, all guns blazing in their promised duel on the most magnificent avenue in the world. It was Marianne Vos who claimed this sprint royal and showed just why the most beautiful races have her name written all over them.
Marta Tagliaferro’s top 5 placings in six out of the eleven intermediate sprints held on the finish line were enough for the Ale Cipollini rider to take the points classification, while Coryn Rivera was the best under-23 and sixth overall.
French champion Ferrand-Prvot led the peloton under the flamme rouge but was ruled out of contention by a fall 900 meters before the line. “I was really well positioned with one kilometer to go. I think I managed to give Marianne a decent lead-out despite it all. That fall was difficult to avoid, but it’s a pity because I could’ve contested the sprint too. It’s just a few scratches; Marianne’s amazing victory is what really counts. It really was a great day at the office.”
After months promoting La Course by Le Tour, Marianne Vos did not disappoint when the moment the girls had been working towards for months finally came: “La Course’s really something awesome for women’s cycling, but it’s just one step towards the recognition we deserve. I’d like to thank the organisers again. I hope everyone who saw us today realized the peloton’s getting stronger and stronger. I’ve already won most major races, and La Course is one I just had to add to my palmars. It’s also thanks to my team that I won today. Yet the more you win, the more you want to win.”