After three years of hosting La Course in locations around France, with racing taking place in the same location and date as a stage of the Tour de France, the women’s race returns to the Champs-Élysées for the first time since 2016.
“The seventh edition of La Course by Le Tour de France powered by FDJ will take the world’s elite back to the Champs-Élysées, where it all began with Marianne Vos sprinting to the win in 2014,” ASO announced.
The race has been provisionally scheduled for July 10. That day will see the men’s race several hundred kilometers south, taking on a tough mountainous day in the Massif Central. Race organizers ASO are still considering moving women’s race La Course to July 19, to coincide with the final stage of the Tour de France, also in Paris.
There may be some raised eyebrows at the return of La Course to a flat city center circuit format after several years of trialing different formats and locations.
Newly-crowned world champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who won mountainous editions of La Course in 2017 and 2018, expressed her disappointment to Dutch website Weilerlits. “It is now nothing more than a criterium,” said the Dutch rider.
La Course experimented with a two-day race in 2017, with the second stage finishing on top of the Col d’Izoard on the same day as the men’s race took on the mountain. 2018 saw the race return to a one-day format, taking riders through the Alps in a finale identical to that used by the men’s race later in the same day. The 2019 race in Pau, won by Marianne Vos, stuck to the one-day format that coincided with the men’s race in the same location.
“This is a step back,” said van Vleuten. “It is now nothing more than a criterium, while it is still known as a WorldTour competition. I do not want to fully preach for my own parish, there are sprinters who think this is a fun race, but I will not drive it. ”
With the growing increase in women’s racing and popularity of stage races such as the Giro Rosa in Italy and the OVO Women’s Tour in the UK, ASO revealed to Reuters in July “we are setting up a cell to develop women’s cycling within ASO.”
The Tour de France organizers are still ruling out the possibility of a women’s Tour de France coinciding with the men’s event however.
“We cannot have a women’s Tour de France at the same moment as the men’s Tour because it would be logistically impossible,” ASO told Reuters. “The Tour has grown so much and is so big that having two races at the same time would not be feasible.”