NICE (Reuters) – Britain’s Lizzie Deignan edged a thrilling sprint finish along the Nice seafront to beat great rival Marianne Vos and win La Course by Le Tour de France on Saturday.
The hilly 96-km route around the Mediterranean city boiled down to a battle between a leading group of six, also featuring Dutch world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Demi Vollering and Deignan’s Trek Segafredo team mate Elisa Longo Borghini.
As the sprint wound up in the final kilometre along Promenade des Anglais it looked as though Vos, who out-sprinted Deignan for gold at the London Olympics in 2012, had nailed a second successive victory as she opened up a sizeable gap.
But Dutch great Vos (CCC-Liv) had been forced to make her move too early. On the long final drag Monaco-based Deignan dug deep and she surged past on the line. Vollering was third.
“It was just a relief that I won it,” Deignan said. “What a performance from Trek-Segafredo today, every single rider played their part, then me and Elisa only had to wait for the finale and she did the perfect job: she forced Marianne to sprint early and I took advantage of that.
“It’s phenomenal to win La Course. Sometimes when you’re training hard and things aren’t going your way, it’s really frustrating but finally it feels the luck is on our side.”
The victory completed a good month for former world champion Deignan who also won GP Plouay for the third time.
La Course by Le Tour, featuring the cream of women’s professional cycling, is the curtain-raiser for the Tour de France which starts later on Saturday in Nice.
The women are still without a multi-stage Tour de France of their own, although support is growing to start one possibly as early as 2022.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)