Lizzie Deignan bagged her first Women’s WorldTour victory of the year at the GP Plouay on Sunday. The British champion out-sprinted former world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon-SRAM) to take the win under the Brittany sun.
The pair escaped on the final climb with four kilometres to go, building a gap of around 25 seconds before the final sprint, which saw Deignan take two seconds from Ferrand-Prevot.
Orica-Scott rider Sarah Roy finished in third place, leading home the 21 riders who made up the remainder of the peloton.
Known for its picturesque undulating route, the 121.5km race took in four opening laps of 26.9km, then one final 13.9km loop. Each of these culminated with the climb of Côte de Ty Marec, which drags on for about kilometre after its short and steep opening.
This is typically the place where the race ignites and, while that was once again the case his year, the test began in benign style, the opening two laps raced at the lower end of the organisers projected speed. However, as the peloton approached the second of five climbs of the ascent of Ty Marec the pace lifted significantly, Deignan’s Boels-Dolmans team coming to the front to put pressure on.
The Dutch outfit neutralised a brief attack from 2014 time trial world champion Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM), but Team Sunweb and WM3 Energie also contributed to keep the pace high.
It was Canyon-SRAM, however, who enlivened the race with former British champion Hannah Barnes one of many of the team’s attacks to get a small gap.
On the final short lap Tiffany Cromwell showed the German team’s distinctive colours, escaping with Deignan’s team mate, Karol-Ann Canuel, the pair being caught just before the final climb.
Throughout the race it was clear Deignan’s Dutch team were riding for her, covering attacks and leading only when required. Even when she escaped as part of a group of five with under 20km to ride she had Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen riding for her.
“It feels really good,” Deigan told Cycling Weekly at the finish.
“I didn’t actually feel that good but I managed to pull of the win when I didn’t feel great, and the team worked so well but they had to.
“In the team meeting I was the first person to say I really wanted to win and be the leader and every single person in the room said they would support me. Nobody wanted to share it. they are the best in the world and it is a privilege to race with them.”
Deignan becomes one of just three riders to have won the French race twice, joining Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley on the race’s 16 year palmarès.
Deignan’s first victory was in 2015, just before her world championship win in the USA. Saturday’s success bodes well for this year’s worlds which take place in Norway four weeks from today.
Deignan will continue her world championship preparation at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour of Holland this week, a stage race which constitutes the 19th and penultimate event of the Women’s WorldTour.
Grand Prix de Plouay Agglomération Lorient 2017
1. Lizzie Deignan (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, in 3-07- 29
2. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) Canyon SRAM, at 2 secs
3. Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-Scott, at 10 secs
4. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana
5. Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM
6. Sheila Gutierrez (Esp) Cylance
7. Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco SVB
8. Ingrid Drexel (Mex) Team tibco SVB
9. Dani King (GBr) Team Cylance
10. Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City Ljubljiana, all at same time.