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Annemiek van Vleuten unhappy with 'step back' for women's La Course race

Next year's edition returns to Paris for a criterium which is far from pleasing for the current road race World Champion

Joe Robinson
18 Oct 2019

World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten has hit out at next year's edition of La Course as it returns the city streets of Paris. Among the fanfare of the Tour de France 2020 route announcement at Palais des Congres in Paris earlier this week, a slight footnote confirmed that the accompanying women's one-day race would shadow the final stage of the men's Tour.

ASO revealed that the race would cover nine laps of the flat Parisian circuit with a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees. It would also take place on Sunday 19th July, hours before the men conclude the Tour on the same course.

Van Vleuten has labelled this move back to Paris as a 'step back' for women's cycling after three years of alternative racing around France.

Talking to Dutch TV broadcaster NOS, the 37-year-old said, 'Have I heard La Course is in Paris? To my disappointment, yes. 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.'

In its seventh edition, La Course has explored various routes in the past three seasons. Most notably were the 2017 and 2018 editions, both won by Van Vleuten, that took place in the mountains.

In fact, last year's edition from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand witnessed one of the greatest finishes to a race in history with Van Vleuten pipping compatriot Anna van der Breggen on the line.

This year's race started in Pau covering five laps of a hilly circuit which eventually saw Marianne Vos ride to a dominant win.

Van Vleuten is not calling for a women's Tour de France in her criticism of next year's La Course, however. Instead, she is asking for a race that is a little more than a glorified criterium.

'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". '