Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) became the first woman to win the GP Plouay on three occasions on Tuesday. The 2015 world champion led home a British one-two with Lizzy Banks (Paule Ka) unable to match her compatriot’s sprint, coming home just behind.
The duo’s heroic performance saw them hold off a strong chasing group of 10 riders, including world champion Annemiek van Vleuten. However, not only did each of the leaders have a team-mate among the chasers, the remaining riders were wary of Van Vleuten’s strength and looked to her to close the gap.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider did much of the work, with Australian team-mate Grace Brown also making a number of concerted efforts, but though the gap came to within 25 seconds they were unable to get on terms.
The result is an excellent one for both British riders. Though her form has been there, Deignan has suffered two crashes in her five starts this season, with ninth at Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa her best result.
Banks, who often performs well in dismal conditions, has been on a mission this year, after winning a stage at the 2019 Giro Rosa, and though she was unable to out sprint Deignan this was her best one-day WorldTour result.
It also shows Team GB have real options ahead of Thursday’s European Championships road race.
How it happened
Shortened to accommodate the men’s race on the same day for the first time, the 101.1km race also took on a new route. Rather than repeated laps of two different and testing local loops, the bunch headed north-east for one large circuit, returning to the Plouay after 46.5km.
After this they tackled four 13.7km closing laps. Though the signature climb at Ty Marec was no longer in this loop, it took on three climbs, all with ramps over 9 per cent and one up to 19 per cent.
With the bunch all together after 20km, the race was briefly neutralised after the peloton went off the route, but were soon back racing with the wind and rain lashing the bunch as they negotiated the repeated short, sharp climbs that characterise the Brittany area.
When the pace eased, and with 63km remaining 20-year-old Swiss rider Lara Krähemann (Cogeas-Mettler) headed off up the road solo, though she gained no real advantage and was caught before the race crossed the line for the first time.
As the race crossed the line for the second time another Swiss rider, national champion Marlen Reusser (Paule Ka) attacked solo. The move caused chaos behind, the bunch stretched to breaking point, and last year’s winner Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) was caught behind a crash and gapped.
With Reusser caught on the second lap, her team-mate Banks made a move, instantly getting a small lead which was closed by compatriot Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) and Jip van den Bos (Boels–Dolmans).
With the peloton hot on their heels the Dutch rider entered a corner too hot and crashed, almost taking Deignan with her. Deignan recovered though, catching Banks and they set about building their lead.
By the time the duo crossed the line again, with 26km to go, they led by one minute, the peloton behind becoming restless. On one of the climbs on the circuit world champion Annemiek van Vleuten led an attempt to bridge to the leaders, but the group of 10 were not working together and the lead remained over 45 seconds.
Each time Van Vleuten led the chasing group the gap would come down, though she was unwilling to tow her rivals to the leaders, and when she pulled off the deficit increased again, the rest of the group unwilling to work cohesively.
GP de Plouay – Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT 2020: Plouay to Plouay (101.1km)
1. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo, in 2-43-40
2. Lizzy Banks (GBr) Paule Ka, at same time
3. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service, at 1-13
4. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-BTC Ljubljana
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
6. Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Lotto Soudal Ladies
7. Marta Lach (Pol) CCC-Liv
8. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT
9. Alicia Gonzalez (Esp) Movistar
10. Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, all at same time