● For the eighth edition of La Course by Tour de France avec FDJ, on Saturday 26 June between Brest and Landerneau as the curtain-raiser for stage one of the Tour de France, Dutch riders Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen come in as the ladies to beat.
● However, the race promises to be a wide-open affair over the 107 kilometres of action that will end with a finish at the top of the côte de la Fosse aux Loups. This final climb, which should see the punchers attack, could be won by the defending race winner, Great Britain’s Elizabeth Deignan, or Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma.
The Dutch will again be among the principal contenders for victory in the 8th edition of La Course by Tour de France avec FDJ, which will offer an undulating 107-kilometre course between Brest and Landerneau on 26 June, as a curtain-raiser to the first stage of the Tour de France. Two of women’s cycling’s best stand out on the entry list. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma Women Team) is the most successful rider in the history of the sport. She won the race in 2014 and 2019, and world champion Anna van der Breggen (Team SD Worx) would like nothing more than to win the race a second time, six years after her triumph on the Champs-Elysées, before retiring at the end of the season. While Vos appears a bit isolated in her squad, Van der Breggen will be able to count on a formidable team with the presence of 2021 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Demi Vollering, and 2017 world champion Chantal van den Broek-Blaak.
The stiffest competition to counter the Dutch armada will be the Trek-Segafredo team. Elizabeth Deignan is none other than the defending champion who won last year in Nice on the Promenade des Anglais. The British rider is in top form after her recent victory in the Tour de Suisse. Her teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot will be eager to ride a strong race on home turf in Brittany. Other French challengers include Juliette Labous (Team DSM), who finished sixth in the Flèche Wallonne and recently crowned national champion Evita Muzic (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope). Muzic’s teammate and seventh-ranked rider in the world, The Netherlands‘ Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig could create a surprise.
American sprinter Coryn Rivera (Team DSM) could also compete for victory if she can stay close on the first steep slopes of the côte de la Fosse aux Loups (3km at 5,7%), which the rider will climb four times and at the top of which the race will be decided. Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) finished fourth last year and could do the same if not better. On the Flèche Wallonne in April, she did the best job of resisting the seven-time winner of the Mur de Huy, Anna van der Breggen.
22 teams, the leading riders
Team BikeExchange: Spratt (Aus), Brown (Aus)
Arkéa Pro Cycling Team: Kerbaol (Fra)
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope : Ludwig (Den), Cavalli (Ita), Muzic (Fra)
Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime Women Cycling: Rüegg (Swi)
Canyon//Sram Racing: Niewiadoma (Pol), Chabbey (Sui), Barnes (Gbr)
Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team: Confalonieri (Ita)
Team DSM: Labous (Fra), Rivera (Usa)
Drops-Le Col supported by TEMPUR: Lowden (Usa)
Ale’ BTC Ljubljana: Bastianelli (Ita), Bujak (Slo)
A.R. Monex Women’s Pro Cycling Team: Ragusa (Ita)
Top Girls Fassa Bortolo: Bariani (Ita)
Valcar – Travel & Service : Sanguineti (Ita)
Bizkaia – Durango: Alonso (Spa)
Massi – Tactic Women Team: Kern (Slo)
Movistar Team Women: Biannic (Fra)
Jumbo-Visma Women Team: Vos (Ned)
Liv Racing: Bertizzolo (Ita), Paladin (Ita)
Parkhotel Valkenburg: Van Bokhoven (Ned)
Team SD Worx: Van der Breggen (Ned), Van den Broeck-Blaak (Ned), Majerus (Lux), Vollering (Ned)
Rally Cycling: Doebel-Hickok (Usa), Koppenburg (Ger)
Trek-Segafredo: Deignan (Gbr), Cordon Ragot (Fra)
Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank: Stephens (Usa)