'I need to have a chat with ASO about getting up that early': Women gladly bid farewell to La Course as the Tour de France proper beckons

Demi Vollering bested Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig on the opening of the 2021 Tour de France

Lizzie Deignan
(Image credit: Getty)

"I was up at 5.45 am and I was eating rice at six, so it was very early," the final victor of La Course, SDWorx's Demi Vollering, said before the start of the race she would go on to win. 

Clearly, as inhumane as shovelling platefuls of Basmati down your gullet as the sun is coming up is, it did the trick, the early wake-up calls the women's peloton have become accustomed to at ASO races one fewer as next year, finally, as the women's race will actually be called the Tour de France and expanded to a seven-day affair rather than one.

"I think we're all very excited about having a Tour de France, even if it's just a week long," Lizzie Deignan told Cycling Weekly, also explaining she just didn't have the legs today to defend her title after winning last year in Nice. "I think it's a good, important next step. It's a sustainable step, probably. Hopefully, it'll lead on to a full three-week Tour."

"The Tour de France Femmes is coming! I mean, it's going to be HUGE!" Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said in typically ebullient fashion, conducting the first part of the interview herself, explaining how she rode to second-place behind Vollering, ecstatic to have outsprinted Marianne Vos on the uphill finish. "No really, even if you don't know cycling, you know what the Tour de France is, what the yellow jersey is. Everyone. Even my grandma."

>>> Contract talk, leadership and legs: A Tour de France with more questions than answers for Geraint Thomas

Completing laps of a finishing circuit that shared the same climb as the men's race in the afternoon, fans were at the roadside early to cheer the women across as they split up on the uphill before coming back together again.

The 2022 women's Tour will set off from Paris as the men arrive, a stand-alone race, in which Vollering says she wants race organisers to include the big mountains as well as a team time trial.

Deignan says she would only truly be bothered by the early wake-up call if it was the World Championships or the Olympics, showing the lack of importance the top riders place on their Tour event, which hopefully is about to change.

"I have a two-year-old so I felt like I had an advantage. But it's not ideal obviously," Deignan said. "Everybody's in the same boat. As much as they'd like to think it is, it's not the World Championships or the Olympics so we can handle it. I wouldn't want to be doing that on the biggest race of the year."

For DSM's Coryn Rivera, she takes the week before to specifically ready herself for the change of schedule to make sure she arrives at the start line for La Course in top form.

"At this rate, we're pretty used to ASO races that start at eight o'clock, like the Ardennes," she explained. "So it's nothing new for us.

"Personally, I'm not an early bird so I have to mentally prepare myself. Normally, the week before, I start waking up early and try going to bed early as well because that's not really my strong suit."

The last word, as it should be, is left to Uttrup Ludwig.

"I need to have a chat with ASO about getting up that early. I would like to sleep more."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1