19 Jul 15 riders to watch in La Course (1.WWT)
Annemiek van Vleuten
The Orica-Scott rider, one of the most persistent riders of the international peloton, heads to La Course after claiming two stage victories and finishing third overall in the Giro Rosa, currently sitting 2nd on the UCI ranking and 3rd on the UCI WWT. Unlike some of her main rivals Annemiek has spent her past week out from altitude, recovering from her Giro Rosa efforts. After her outstanding performance in Rio, where she was the only rider who managed to hold Mara Abbott’s wheel during Canoas-Vista Chinesa climb, Annemiek proved she can have top-notch climbing legs, Thus, van Vleuten is one of the top favourites for the victory atop Izoard.
Less is more. During 2017 the Polish rider has kept her racing days to a minimum, counting them for great performances and good results proving she is on track to tackle a season that will likely be a turning point in her career, as her new role at WM3 Energie (after Rabobank-Liv farewell) demands more responsibility. Throughout the season Polish braveheart Kasia Niewadoma has probably been the most decisive rider of the peloton, showing her great fighting spirit and creating with her attacks, the key breakaways of the UCI WWT. In such a demanding climb Niewiadoma is one of the top favourites to follow.
South African Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is one our top favourites to follow in La Course by Le Tour de France. Moolman-Pasio hit some impressive form in May claiming, three outstanding and consecutive victories at Emakumeen Bira, La Classique Morbihan and GP Plumelec-Morbihan. After abandoning the Giro Rosa due to illness, Cervélo Bigla climber Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has had some altitude training, including an Izoard course recon. Despite her current form is somehow unknown, the new La Course parcours really suits Moolman-Pasio climbing skills. Thus, she is as a top contender to watch in Briançon.
After claiming the inaugural UCI WWT series victory and setting herself as the best rider of the 2016 season (winning Giro Rosa, Amgen Tour of California, Philadelphia, and being frequently on the podium of the top ranked races), Megan Guarnier has had a tough season missing an important part of her 2017 racing schedule due to lingering confusion symptoms. Despite claiming some top victories at both Amgen Tour of California and Giro Rosa, Guarnier hasn’t been able to show her most blatant version this year. The 32-year old Boels-Dolmans rider will one of the top contenders to follow in Izoard.
Australian rider Amanda Spratt hit some impressive early season form winning Santos Women’s Tour as well as finishing second in the Australian National road race (just behind her teammate Katrin Garfoot). After a very solid spring season, Spratt has been able to claim her first of the season in Emakumeen Bira, finishing fifth overall, same GC position she was able to score later in the Giro Rosa. In Briançon the Orica-Scott rider will one of the favourites to watch, where will likely to test her great climbing legs.
Elisa Longo Borghini
Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini peaked her great start to the season winning Strade Bianche in front of the home crowds in Siena. Despite crashing in the fifth gravel sector, Elisa managed with the help of her teammates to get back to the front of the race and finally win her first UCI WWT event ever. After such a great start to the UCI WWT season Elisa Longo Borghini forwarded momentum defending her UCI WWT leader jersey at the following three rounds. After he Olympic road race bronze medal Elisa has gotten rid off her own doubts, liberating her full potential, delivering some great performances, such as finishing second in the recent Giro Rosa.
Canadian rider Karol-Ann Canuel is one of our riders to watch during La Course. The Boels-Dolmans super-domestique has hit some spectacular form during the previous weeks, becoming Canadian National time trial champion as well as becoming the first Giro Rosa leader and finishing eighth overall. With Anna van der Breggen’s absence she will play key role both in La Course UCI WWT race and at the possible La Course Pousuite.
After switching teams this season joining Lensworld – Kuota, former road race World Champion Tatiana Guderzo hasn’t been to match her previous season performances, specially at a less mountainous Giro Rosa. Despite the fact she hasn’t hit some strong form Le Col d’Izoard slopes match Guderzo climbing skills and she will be a key rider to follow together with her Ucranian teammate Tetiana Riabchenko.
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot made in Siena the most awaited comebacks of the 2017 season, only seven months after her post-Rio Olympics heartbreaking “open letter” where Ferrand-Prévot quoted that being World Champion simultaneously in three disciplines in one year was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Despite the fact that the French Canyon-SRAM rider claimed some good results during the Ardennes Week, Pauline has focused this season on the mountain bike, starting to grow some good form as well as recently becoming once again French National champion. Despite Pauline doesn’t head to La Course under her blatant version, she is one of the riders to follow in Izoard.
Together with Dutch rider Roxane Knetemann, Gillow switched teams this season, joining FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope after Rabobank-Liv farewell season. After showing some strong early season form during Australian Nationals, Gillow persistently performed well during the past months (finishing on the podium at Emakumeen Daria and GP Plumelec-Morbihan and narrowly missing the podium at several UCI WWT rounds). After a strong 12th place in the Giro Rosa Australian rider Shara Gillow heads to Briaçon as one of our riders to follow in the 13th round of the UCIWWT.
Spanish rider Ane Santesteban hasn’t had an easy season after suffering a hit and run while training. However, the Alé Cipollini rider has got some good form and claimed some solid results in front of her home crowds in Emakumeen Mira (finishing second on stage 2 and twelfth overall) and recently in the Giro Rosa (20th overall, attacking multiple times). In Briançon Ane will be part of a solid Alé Cipollini roster, with several choices to tackle the gruelling Izoard slopes.
Inaugural La Course winner Marianne Vos is one of the top riders to watch in Izoard. After an awaited comeback in 2016, Marianne Vos hasn’t had an easy season, mixing some great performances and results with tough moments, due to illnesses and injuries, that may prevented her from getting back to her previous dominant position in the women’s cycling peloton. After breaking her collarbone during OVO Energy Women’s Tour, Vos got back on track last week in BeNe Ladies Tour, winning the overall race as well as two stages (despite crashing in the prologue). “The Cannibal” will be one of the key media attractions of the fourth edition of La Course by Le Tour.
Dutch rider Sabrina Stultiens had a terrible 2016 year, missing the whole season due to a knee injury as well as the past cyclocross season. After a slow start to the season the Team Sunweb rider got some solid results at the Ardennes week. After a remarkable 11th place in the Giro Rosa, Sabrina Stultiens is one of our top riders to follow in La Course.
After persistently performing well throughout the American season, specially at Amgen Tour of California, US rider Lauren Stephens has claimed some strong results last week at Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, where she won the ITT in Schmölln. Stephens is one of our riders to follow in France in the 13th UCI WWT round.
German rider Claudia Lichtenberg switched teams this season joining British registered Wiggle-High5. After playing a supportive/domestique role during the spring classics season on behalf of Italian Elisa Longo-Borghini, Claudia Lichtenberg has peaked during the previous weeks finishing ninth in the Giro Rosa. Lichtenberg heads to Briançon ready to tackle her final La Course race, as she will call it a day after the end of the 2017 season.