The one-day race will be usurped by a much-anticipated week-long Tour de France Femmes from next summer, but before it goes the oft-maligned event will raise the curtain on this year’s Tour as it mirrors much of the opening stage the men will contest later in the day.
Originally planned for Sunday and a race up the Mur-de-Bretagne, the race has been moved forward by 24 hours to avoid a clash with local and regional elections.
That instead means a 107km route between Brest and Landerneau, finishing with four laps of a circuit including the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups, a three-kilometre long test at a 5.7 per cent gradient which will crown the winner. Though Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen start the race as favourites, the punchy finish could suit Deignan as she looks to defend the title she won ahead of Vos in Nice last year – and to hone her preparations for Tokyo next month.
“La Course brings with it the iconic appeal of the Grande Boucle, despite being a one-day race,” the Trek-Segafredo rider said. “Sharing the platform of the world’s most important race makes the approach super inspiring. This year in particular I think it deserves to be watched in its entirety because, with the Olympics just weeks away, we’ll have a top starting list, with super motivated and on-form riders.
“The challenges between the best riders are what make it special. On Saturday, it’s going to be a great show.”
As ever with La Course, anyone wanting to catch all the action will face an early start. The riders will roll out of Brest shortly after 8am local time, needing to have cleared the roads before the men’s race. Such considerations will not be a problem from next summer, with the launch of a new eight-day women’s race which will begin right after the men’s Tour concludes.