Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan will bid to retain her ‘La Course de la Tour de France’ title on Saturday- the women’s equivalent of the biggest cycling race in the calendar.
This year’s edition will take place on June 26 and will be held over 107.4km beginning in the town of Brest and will have a hilly profile, finishing at the top of the Cote de la Loups in the town of Landerneau.
Should she triumph, Deignan will become the first rider to defend their title in the eighth edition of the race.
The Trek-Segafredo rider will be among those in contention, but she will have to produce her very best in order to overcome what is expected to be an outstanding field.
The bookies favourite for the race is Dutch cyclists Anna van der Breggen, who will be hoping for a successful end to an incredible career after announcing her intention to retire from the sport after this years Tokyo Olympics in July.
The Boels-Dolmans rider has taken her career to new heights in the last few years, highlighted by her victories in the World Championships in 2020 where she took home both the road race and time-trial titles.
Other contenders include van der Breggen’s Dutch teammates Marianne Vos and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Both have tasted victory in this race before, Vos in 2014 and van Vleuten in 2018 and at 38 and 34 respectively, have the necessary experience to adapt to any situation the race throws up.
Belgian Lotte Kopecky, 25, is also among the favourites, after enjoying an excellent 18 months of consistent podium finishes and once again doing the double this year at the fiercely competitive Belgian Championships.
Other contenders include fellow Belgian Julie van de Velde, French time-trialling superstar Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Britain’s Hannah Barnes who showed last season that she is capable of competing with the very best in the world.
This year’s edition of ‘La Course’ will be fascinating for more than one reason, as the race will give us an indication as to who is on top form going into the Olympic Road Race in a little over a month’s time.
Deignan, along with the other big names, will be hoping to set the benchmark to follow in Tokyo.
This year’s edition will be the last time the race will take place on a single day, with an eight stage race to be introduced in 2022.
UCI organisers are hoping that a closer parallel to the men’s race will catapult women’s cycling to the top of the world of sport.