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Cycling

La Course by Le Tour de France | Ad-Free

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THE WAIT IS OVER

The Tour de France is here, of course, and you can follow full coverage across all Eurosport and GCN platforms. There's time to grab brunch or a second breakfast before the coverage starts, and read 10 burning questions ahead of the Grand Depart.
Tokyo 2020
'Straight over the bars!' - Van Vleuten crashes in road race
AN HOUR AGO
Au revoir!

La Course 2021

The report from today's race is building up in here... meanwhile...

DEMI VOLLERING WINS LA COURSE

ALAS! Van Der Breggen goes for it, leading out SD Worx team-mate Demi Vollering. Marianne Vos follows but Vollering sweeps past to cross the line first.
1. Vollering
2. Ludwig
3. Vos

Flamme rouge

And my laptop crashes with 200m to go...

Here comes Van Der Breggen...

... with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, and Grace Brown. Is this going to come down to a VDB classic move in the final 1km?

2km to go

Katarzyna Niewiadoma made an impressive lunge there on the steepest part, she's setting the pace leading the train up the climb. Soraya Paladin is in the mix, and Liane Lippert are also in the mix.

3km to go

Tiffany Cromwell has got some legs as the riders ascent the Cote de la Fosse aux loops for the final time, don't forget it's a bugger of an ascent.

Last edition of La Course?

We don't know if this is going to be the last edition of La Course or not. I reiterate once again, I hope not since it's become a belter. But ASO if you're reading, can we not do it at 06:45am?

And we climb for the final time...

We are more or less together now. The gap is 10". Time for the big dogs to come out and play.

6km to go

Safe to say at this point, as the road goes up for the final time, it's going to come down to a sprint finish. BUT WHOOOO?

10km to go

The Fisher-Black lead group are 44 seconds ahead of solo rider Evita Muzic who is in no-woman's land ahead of the peloton.

15km to go

Things are hotting up. The gap from the lead group to the favourites is coming down from just over a minute to 48 seconds. Italy's Sofia Bertizzolo has attacked and the riders begin the final loop of the day.
Evita Muzic, the French national champion, has gone solo. Can she hold it? This could get interesting...

17km to go

Niamh Fisher-Black of SD Worx is still working hard here along with Grace Brown in the front group with just 17km to go... it's the penultimate climb so it's all left to play for.

Previous winners

Since this is likely to be the last La Course with the Tour de France Femmes commencing in 2022, here's a little recap of La Course winners since it was introduced:
2014 - Marianne Vos
2015 - Anna Van Der Breggen
2016 - Chloe Hosking
2017 - Annemiek van Vleuten
2018 - Annemiek van Vleuten
2019 - Marianne Vos
2020 - Lizzie Deignan...
The race has changed a lot in that time, given that the first in 2014 was loops around the Champs Elysees and only 89km. But it's good to see it's become a classic. It would be great to see it as well as the TDF Femmes.

24km to go

I'm still awaiting something special from Van Der Breggen...

27km to go

So in the last 5km, Anna Van Der Breggen attacked and split the peloton, bridging the gap between the lead group and the favourites (doing what Van der Breggen does best, eh). Now the group has split again, the front group with Anna Henderson, Ruth Winder and Niamh Fisher-Black.

30km to go

Okaaay, Trek Segafredo are going for it now. Niamh Fisher-Black (great name) of SD Worx is working hard to stay on. The 20-year-old Kiwi has had a storming season so far and looks like a classics rider of the future.

Cote de la Fosse aux loops

The riders ascend the 3km and 5.7% gradient loops three times. But if they weren't hard enough it's tough going just to get there. Today's route is 107km and over 2000m (6500ft)! Brittany ain't flat.

39km to go

The gap of the leaders is down to 25 seconds, as the group of 10 or so riders battle to stay ahead of the peloton.

43km to go

So, Cedrine Kerbaol was caught by the peloton and we are getting towards the business end of the day. The leaders are on the climb as they ascend for the circuits of Cote De La Fosse.

Blackout

Currently quite thankful for GCN Racepass and Eurosport Player on multiple apps and devices as my Sky box has lost signal and my iPad died... bear with...

Defending champ

Lizzie Deignan is the La Course defending champion and she is here without her Trek Segafredo right-hand woman, Elisa Longo Borghini who is focusing on the Giro instead. Other notable absences include Annemiek van Vleuten who is making a bid for Tokyo 2020. However, with Anna Van Der Breggen, Marianne Vos, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and other in tow Deignan will have a battle on her hands.

What's happened this morning?

We are about 37km in with 70km to go. There were multiple attempts at breakaways but none prevailed until Cedrine Kerbaol of Arkea Pro Cycling made a solo attack. The peloton let her go and the gap is now at 43 seconds, and that's about it.

Good morning

The early start was difficult this morning, with the live coverage starting at 06:45, but at least it's an hour ahead in France for the riders...
On the bright side we journos get to work on the sofa at home fuelled by coffee and bagels so it's not so bad... grab one and follow along!
Follow live coverage above from 06:45 BST or stay tuned for live comments from Niamh Lewis at the more palatable 08:30 BST.

Re-Cycle: When Wagtmans denied teammate Merckx to become the accidental Yellow Jersey

Imagine feeling regret, fear, perhaps even a bit of shame, for having fulfilled a childhood ambition. This happened to Rini Wagtmans in the Swiss city of Basel on the morning of Sunday 27th June 1971 on a crazy day that would see the young Dutchman and the rest of the Tour de France peloton ride three legs through three different countries from the crack of dawn until tea time.
“Like many young people, I always dreamed of wearing the Yellow Jersey,” Wagtmans, now 74, tells Re-Cycle. “But when [Félix] Lévitan [the organiser of the Tour de France] came with the jersey and said it was for me, I was really shocked.”
Wagtmans’ reasoning was quite clear. He’d been selected on the new Molteni team to ride in the service of Eddy Merckx, who had ambitions of wearing yellow from start to finish on his way to a third consecutive Tour win. But just one day in, this quest had been derailed – quite inadvertently – by one of his domestiques.
“It was a real surprise for us,” Wagtmans recalls. “Later, Eddy wasn’t angry with me, and he told me to enjoy my time in the jersey. But he did say to me: ‘Rini, why are you doing this? You know this isn’t a game – it’s a real job that I’m busy with.’”
Wagtmans would go on to be a key member of the Molteni team that weathered a storm to deliver Merckx to a third triumph of a race that is, as Merckx’s biographer William Fotheringham declares in Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike: “now famous for a single day, the stage to Orcières-Merlette in the southern Alps, when Merckx was tested as never before”.
Wagtmans’ accidental Yellow Jersey came a week before that fateful 11th stage where Luis Ocaña crushed Merckx – on the first day of action following the opening prologue. It was a ridiculous three-part split stage that crossed three European borders and saw the Yellow Jersey change hands twice – and the Green Jersey on three occasions. Not only did it set the tone, but it introduced the upcoming Wagtmans as one of the key players in the Cannibal’s eventual grinding down of his great Spanish rival.
This is the tale of how one plucky Dutchman unknowingly denied his teammate the Yellow Jersey for a third of a day, before restoring order to the race, winning a stage of his own, and then fighting tooth-and-nail once Merckx lost the Maillot Jaune off his own back.

How to watch La Course and the Tour de France

You can watch the Tour de France live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.
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