Despite losing two Wiggle-High5 team mates in three final lap crashes, Australian Chloe Hosking won La Course by Le Tour de France in Paris on Sunday Afternoon.
The 25-year-old, in her second year with the British-registered team, began her sprint early, using the slipstream of late escapee Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) to stay clear of Finnish champion Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla) and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv), who won the first ever edition of the race in 2014.
While last year’s rain-soaked race was won by Vos’s team mate Anna van Der Breggen from a lone breakaway, normal service was restored this year with warm, sunny weather greeting the riders, and a sprint finish was always likely despite an aggressive race.
Recently-crowned British champion Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) was part of a four-woman break which went clear after four laps. With her were Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans), Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) and London 2012 Bronze medalist Olga Zabalinskaya (Be-Pink).
Once that break was caught, with six of the 13 seven-kilometre laps left to ride, and despite her sprint prowess, Barnes remained prominent at the front of the peloton in an attempt to set up her Australian team-mate Tiffany Cromwell, winner of a stage at the recent Giro Rosa.
With that early break to heel, the race became a cagey affair, the pace remaining extremely high and despite a number of small breaks forming, teams with strong sprint options were unwilling to let them get away. However, with just two laps to race three strong riders escaped, including Hosking’s Dutch team mate Amy Pieters, who, with American Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO-SVB) and, once again, Brand.
With Pieters ahead, her team did not have to work and Hosking was able to use her remaining team mates to position herself for the final, staying out of the wind until she opened up her sprint on the Champs Elysées.
Watch: Women's WorldTour contenders 2016
“I was jumping from train to train,” Hosking said after the race. “I came through the bottom corner, which is still 400 to go, on Pauline’s [Ferrand-Prevot] wheel and then she swung with 300 to go, which was way too early, so I kicked, sat on Ellen’s wheel then went again. I was waiting for them to come and they didn’t come.
“My family and my fiancé are about 200 past the line and we’re all in disbelief at the moment.”
The race is Hosking’s third WorldTour win of the year, following overall success at the Tour of Chongming Island in May.
The Women’s WorldTour moves to Britain for next week’s Prudential Ride London Grand Prix on Saturday.
La Course by Le Tour de France, 89km
1. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle-High5 in 2-01-27
2. Lotta Lepsstö (Fin) Cervélo-Bigla
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo-Liv
4. Joëlle Numainville (Can) Cervélo-Bigla
5. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) Poitou-Charetntes Futroscope.86
6. Pascale Jeuland-Tranchant (Fra) Poitou-Charetntes Futroscope.86
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM
8. Joanne Kiesanowski (NZ) Team TIBCO-SVB
9. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies
10. Maria Confalonieri (Ita) Lensworld-Zannata all same time
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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