2021 La Course by Le Tour de France

Everything You Need To Know About the 2021 La Course by Le Tour de France

Everything You Need To Know About the 2021 La Course by Le Tour de France

It's not the Women's Tour de France, but it's the biggest one-day race on the calendar. This is what you need to know about La Course.

May 22, 2021 by Rebecca Reza
La Course Is A Punchy Technical TDF Kickoff

Back for its eighth edition, the women's La Course by Le Tour will tackle the same demanding and technical terrain as the men face on the opening stage of the 2021 Tour de France. 

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A One-Day Race, Not A Women's Tour de France

La Course was first held in 2014 after a petition was brought to ASO seeking a women’s Tour de France to coincide with the men's. 

The one-day race gives the women's peloton a chance to compete on one of the men's 21 stages of the Tour de France and the stage varies from year to year. La Course however is not the Women's Tour de France. The French organization recently announced that the long-awaited return of the Women's Tour de France will arrive in 2022 following the end of the men's edition.

The inaugural edition was held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, a 13-lap loop that came to a total of 89km, prior to the grand finale of the men’s race in 2014. Marianne Vos was the first woman to celebrate victory. 

In 2017, the race climbed the Col d’Izoard, providing a stark contrast to the inaugural edition on the Champs-Élysées. Annemiek Van Vleuten earned her first La Course victory this year.

Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan won La Course in 2020 in a tactical sprint finish against Vos on a hilly two-lap hilly circuit in Nice. 

La Course Kicks Off The Tour Once Again

Like in 2020, this year's La Course will be held on the opening day of the Tour de France. The women will race a similar route from Brest to Landerneau as the men. 

The hilly and technical terrain in Brittany will favor the punchy classics specialists. The 2021 course will take the riders on a hilly 107.4km route, with a finishing 14 kilometer circuit to be completed three times prior to the finish.  

The race was originally scheduled to be held in tandem with stage two of the Tour de France, but was moved due to logistical challenges. 

Organizers have done their best to emulate the intended finish at the top of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, by instead finishing up the short Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, which ramps up to a 14% gradient at the start of the 3km climb. Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Who To Watch

Expect to see Movistar’s Annemiek Van Vleuten on top form for La Course. Van Vleuten enjoyed a successful spring campaign, winning both Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Women’s Tour of Flanders. She remained consistent as she has become known to do, finishing on the podium at both Amstel Gold in third place, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in second. Her young Movistar team have come into their own, showing prowess in their support of Van Vleuten and others like Danish Sprinter Emma Norsgaard. Expect her and domestique American Leah Thomas to be alongside her in support. 

The Trek-Segafredo Women’s squad produced a tactically masterful race in 2020 to earn Lizzie Deignan the victory. While Deignan has had a quiet season thus far, the Olympic Games are a huge goal of hers. Expect to see Deignan's form ramping up dramatically for La Course. 

Deignan is not Trek-Segafredo's only card to play however. American Road National Champion Ruth Winder, and Italian National Road Champion Elisa Longo Borghini have been racking up podium spots. The team in blue will be one to watch. 

Current World Champion and Olympic Champion Anna Van Der Breggen has been a dominant force in 2021. The Dutch rider plans to retire after the Tokyo Games, but she has proven that she has no intention to go out quietly. 

Van der Breggen has four victories thus far in 2021. She opened the year by simply riding away from the field at Omloop He Nieuwsblad. She then went on to win her seventh consecutive La Fleche Wallonne, before once again beating out all her rivals in the Basque Country during two one-day 1.1 events. Her SD Worx team has no shortage of potential winners, but expect to see Van der Breggen do something special in her final La Course.

Marianne Vos of course will be a heavy favorite on the classics-style terrain of this year's La Course. In her new yellow and black colors of the Jumbo Visma women’s team, Vos blasted out of the gates this season, winning Gent-Wevelgem in March, and for the first time in her illustrious career, Amstel Gold a week later. 

A two-time winner of La Course, Vos will have all eyes marking her as the women battle it out before the return of a full Women’s Tour de France next season. 

While La Course will continue in the coming seasons, irectly after the men’s finish in Paris. In the meantime, catch all the action, live on FloBikes on Saturday, June 26th