La Course by Le Tour de France 2020 will be the tasty appetizer of the Grande Boucle on 29 August, moved from the original date and its route along the Champs-Élysées in Paris to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, in conjunction with the opening stage of the year’s first Grand Tour. The best riders of the UCI Women's WorldTour (WWT) will fight it out over two laps of a long circuit, totalling 96km that looks likely to finish with a bunch sprint, calling for the top sprinters and the big names who can also be fast.
Jean-Marc Marino, the event's sporting director, explained: “The race will consist of a loop to be completed twice. The côte de Rimiez will allow for a solid group to break away, all the more so as after reaching the line drawn for the mountain points, there will actually be several kilometres of climb left to the village of Aspremont. This springboard is perfect for really strong girls who get along well, especially since the descent is technical and not very conducive to organizing a chase.”
The race’s changing one and two-day formats
The 1.WWT-rated race, organised by ASO, has seen format changes several times in its young life. Originally it was held on the final day of the men’s Tour de France from the first edition in 2014 to 2016, when the riders competed on the historic circuit on the Champs-Élysées. In 2017 the race radically changed, moving to the southern part of France with a two-day format: the demanding first 90km stage finished on the Col d'Izoard and used the same route as the 18th stage of the men's race. This was followed by a pursuit race – not part of the UCI WWT - for the best 20 riders (or those who finished with a time gap of less than five minutes from the first winner) in Marseille, the city which hosted the 20th stage for the men.
In 2018 La Course by Le Tour de France returned to a one-day format on Le Grand-Bornand, where Stage 10 of the men’s Tour was hosted, and in 2019 it was held on a hilly circuit finishing in Pau in the Pyrenees, in conjunction with Stage 13. Until now La Course has seen mostly a Dutch domination with Marianne Vos winning the first and last editions in 2014 and 2019, Anna van der Breggen in 2015 and Annemiek van Vleuten’s double: 2017 and 2018. Chloe Hosking was the only winner not to hail from the Netherlands, with the Australian’s victory coming in 2016.
The 2020 Nice route
The 2020 edition has a new route again. The course will start on the charming Mediterranean coast and head north toward the Cote de Rimiez (5.8km long with a 5.1% average gradient) just after 8km – only the first part of the climb is categorised but there is a further 6.5km ascending at an average of 3%. The peloton will then reach the town of Castagniers before heading back south, crossing the finish line in Nice for the first time and then completing another lap for a total of 96km.
Since the second Cote de Rimiez climb will be at the 56.5km mark (the top is 31km from the finish), it will be tough for any potential brave attackers to take enough advantage, looking to avoid a bunch sprint on the Promenade des Anglais, as happened in the first three editions.
Who are the riders to keep an eye on?
Because of the short distance and relatively undemanding route, this year’s winner could come from the former champions, or from other big name riders, or from a long list of potential outsiders. Four of the past winners will be in Nice: Vos (CCC Liv), Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans CyclingTeam) and the UCI World Champion Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) – who recently won the Strade Bianche – and Australia’s Hosking.
Those four can be favourites for the victory along with already confirmed big names, including the two former UCI World Champions Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) from Great Britain, and Marta Bastianelli (Alé BTC Ljubljana) from Italy; South Africa’s seven-time African Continental Champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC Liv); 2019 Amstel Gold Race winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) from Poland and the Danish former Under-23 Women's WorldTour champion Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), who recently won the Giro dell'Emilia Internazionale Donne.
Among the 23 teams competing in the race there are several selecting their fastest wheels, including the Canadian Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb), Belgium’s Jolien D’Hoore (Boels-Dolmans CyclingTeam), and the Cuban Arlenis Sierra Canadilla (Astana Women’s Team), who would all love to show at Nice.