‘This is a step backwards’: Annemiek van Vleuten critical of La Course as 2020 marks return to Paris

The newly crowned world champion says the race is 'nothing more than a criterium'

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten has revealed her disappointment about the 2020 edition of La Course as the race returns to Paris.

Newly-crowned world champion Van Vleuten has called the decision to hold the women’s one-day race in Paris “a step back” after three years of varied racing.

The organisers of the Tour de France and La Course, ASO, revealed the routes of both races on Tuesday (October 15), confirming that the women’s race would be held as a 90km course covering laps of Paris.

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La Course, now in its seventh edition, will be returning to the French capital after three years of exciting racing elsewhere in the country, including Pau in 2019 and the Col d’Izoard in 2017.

But Van Vleuten was critical of the 2020 course in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS.

“Have I heard La Course is in Paris?” the Mitchelton-Scott rider said. “To my disappointment, yes. "

“This is a step back.

"It is now nothing more than a criterium. While it is still known as a WorldTour competition, but for the men, criteriums are not included in the WorldTour."

The 2020 edition of La Course has been scheduled for July 19, the same day the men’s peloton will finish the Tour de France in Paris, a return to the format used in the first three years of La Course’s existence.

In recent years La Course has been held on similar routes to stages of the men’s Tour, this year taking place over laps of the 27km time trial course in Pau.

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A thrilling edition this season saw Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) sprint to victory on the uphill finish as Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) was denied the win from a solo breakaway in the final 400m.

Van Vleuten, who won the 2019 World Championship road race in Yorkshire last month, added: “I don't need a multi-day La Course, but a tough stage would be nice. There are so few WorldTour races in which we go into the mountains. At this La Course I get the idea that they were like ‘oh yes, we have to organise La Course as well, let's do it in Paris’. "

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.