Lizzie Deignan won a thrilling edition of La Course in Nice on Saturday, beating Marianne Vos into second place after a tight tactical sprint.
The win comes hot on the heels of her win GP Plouay, the most recent Women’s WorldTour race, last Tuesday, and puts her at the top of the rankings.
The British rider had been part of a six woman group which had formed early on second of two laps, and had Trek-Segafredo team mate Elisa Longo Borghini in the group to help.
With the peloton well out of contention, the six leaders rode onto the final straight of the Promenade des Anglais with time to finesse. With Deignan glued to Vos’s wheel Longo Borghini launched repeated attacks taking the pressure off her team mate.
World champion Annemiek van Vleuten also had a go, but was unable to get away. Entering the final kilometre Deignan appeared stranded on the front, but when Longo Borghini, who had been dropped after a previous dig, attacked past them Vos was forced to open her sprint early.
It looked as if the Dutch woman had done enough to win, but Deignan resolutely stuck with her, a desperate bike throw enough to give her the win.
After earlier appearing exhausted, Parkhotel-Valkenburg’s Demi Vollering crossed the line in third place.
How it happened
The 96km race took in two circuits which started with the ascent of the lap’s only climb, Côte de Rimiez. After a couple of short-lived and speculative attacks, the race tackled the first ascent as one, though the lack of depth in the peloton was illustrated as riders were dropping out of the back throughout the ascent.
The climbing carried on after the summit, but it was the descent which drew out the first breakaway, with Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope), Lotte Koppecky (Lotto-Soudal), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Sunweb’s British rider Anna Henderson getting away.
As the six riders hit the flat road back to the coast they had a lead of 25 seconds on a group of about 30 riders, where many of the pre-race favourites were hiding. Of them it was Chloe Hosking’s Rally Cycling team who came to the front to lead the chase.
However, as the leaders headed back into Nice to complete the first lap the peloton swelled and the gap came down dramatically, catching the leaders with 52km remaining, before the first passage of the finish line.
Over the line and as the bunch began the second ascent of the climb world champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) launched one of her trademark blistering attacks, drawing out the group of six riders who would contest the final.
Though she led for the entire climb Van Vleuten was unable to drop the other five riders, Niewiadoma, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv), Demi Vollering (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) and the Trek-Segafredo duo of Longo Borghini and Brit Lizzie Deignan sticking close to her wheel, and when they crested the climb they led by one minute, and even though more riders were by now in the peloton, the gap increased steadily.
Defending Liane Lippert’s overall lead in the WorldTour standings, Sunweb led the chase of a peloton which was steadily increasing in size, but even on the flat they were unable to reduce the leader’s advantage, despite help form Valcar Travel and Service.
By the time the leading six women passed Nice airport, riding onto the Promenade des Anglais they led the bunch by 1.45, allowing space for the tactical final.
La Course by Le Tour De France: Nice – Nice (96km)
1. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo, in 2-22-51
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv
3. Demi Vollering (Ned) Parkhotel-Valkenburg
4. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
5. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, all at same time
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 7 sec
7. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope at 1.50
8. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
9. Soraya Paladin (Ita) CCC-Liv
10. Liane Lippert (Ger) Sunweb, all at same time