CYCLING Preview: Women’s World Tour leader Van Vleuten looking for third La Course win in Pau

The UCI Women’s World Tour just finished its longest race of the year, the 10-stage Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, but is now in France for a one-day race staged by the Tour de France organizers, La Course by Le Tour de France.

The outcome is likely to be the same: Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) will win, chased home by countrywoman Anna van der Breggen … just as it was in this race one year ago.

These two have combined for five wins on the World Tour for 2019, went 1-2 in the Giro Rosa and both have won this race: van der Breggen in 2015 and van Vleuten the last two years. But they will not be alone on the 121 km, moderately hilly course; the entries include six other medal winners from the five years of this event:

● Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) ~ 2017-18 Champion
● Anne van der Breggen (NED) ~ 2015 Champion; 2018 silver
● Marianne Vos (NED) ~ Winner in 2014; third in 2016
● Chloe Hosking (AUS) ~ Winner in 2016
● Lizzie Deignan (GBR) ~ Runner-up in 2017
● Leah Kirchmann (CAN) ~ Third in 2014
● Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) ~ Third in 2018
● Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) ~ Third in 2017

All told, 11 of the 15 total medals ever won in this race will be on the start line. But the question is who can beat van Vleuten, who has won three times and been in the top five another four times on the Tour this season.

However, the seasonal title is not yet van Vleuten’s (who won last year); with nine races remaining, she’s solidly in front of her only likely challenger, Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma, but hasn’t clinched yet:

1. 1,307.67 Annemiek van Vleuten (NED)
2. 1,086.17 Kasia Niewiadoma (POL)
3. 791.33 Anna van der Breggen (NED)
4. 748.00 Marianne Vos (NED)
5. 710.00 Marta Bastianelli (ITA)

Friday’s route begins and ends in Pau and makes five circuits of a loop course which has a climb of 179 m to 345 m over 9.5 km. The finish, however, is mostly downhill from the final climb down into Pau, finishing at 204 m elevation, so look for another wild finish. Look for results here.