Van Vleuten escapes chasers in La Course pursuit

Annemiek van Vleuten won the first edition of La Course’s pursuit-style time trial on Saturday.

MARSEILLE, France (VN) — Annemiek van Vleuten raised her arms to a roar inside the Marseille Velodrome as she held off her chasers to win the first edition of La Course’s pursuit-style time trial on Saturday.

Boels-Dolman’s Lizzie Deignan outsprinted Wiggle High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini for second, crossing the line 1’52” back. Boels’ Megan Guarnier was fourth.

The unique event had each rider set off with the gaps earned in Thursday’s La Course race to the top of the Col d’Izoard. That meant Orica-Scott’s van Vleuten rolled down the start ramp 43 seconds ahead Deignan, 1’23” on Longo-Borghini, and 1’28” on Guarnier.

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The format, which left racers on their road bikes and allowed drafting, forced tactical decisions among the top riders. Deignan made the call to wait up for Guarnier and Longo Borghini, believing that she would be unable to bridge the 43-second gap to van Vleuten alone. That put a select group 90 seconds behind van Vlueten in the first half of the race.

“Half of the fun for this race today was thinking about what other riders would do,” van Vleuten said. “If they want to win they have to come together and chase me together. I thought for sure they would wait, especially Lizzie would wait for her teammate and ride together.”

“Today was a different formula, and I think it’s good, like the Hammer series, to try something new,” van Vleuten said.

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Even with three riders working together, the gap to van Vleuten refused to budge. As the chasers hit the day’s steep climb Guarnier fell off and left just Deignan and Long-Borghini. In the final kilometers, the two began to play a bit of cat-and-mouse, allowing van Vleuten to further stretch her lead.

Top-10 overall

1. Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED/Orica), in 32:52
2. Lizzie Deignan (GBR/Boels), at 1:52
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA/Wiggle), at 1:52
4. Megan Guarnier (USA/Bols), at 3:00
5. Amanda Spratt (AUS/Orica), at 3:26
6. Shara Gillow (AUS/FDJ), at 3:48
7. Lauren Stephens (USA/Tibco), at 3:53
8. Katarzyna Niewadoma (POL/WM3), at 4:35
9. Ashliegh Moolman Pasio (RSA/Cervelo), at 4:35
10. Ana Sabria (COL/Servetto), at 4:46