La Course by Le Tour de France: Annemiek van Vleuten wins on Col d’Izoard ahead of Lizzie Deignan

British champion Lizzie Deignan second ahead of Marseille time trial

Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) won stage one of the revamped La Course by Le Tour de France, as British champion Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) finished second on the Col d’Izoard.

The women’s race, switched from its Champs-Elysees for the first time, and with a new format, saw plenty of action packed into the short 67.5km route from Briancon to Izoard.

And Van Vleuten, on the back of her two stage wins and third place overall at the Giro Rosa, proved strongest on the final climb, riding away from Deignan with five kilometres to race and holding on to claim victory.

There was concern for another Brit, Team Sunweb’s Molly Weaver, however, who crashed out of the race having only just returned to action after a horrific training crash but her team later confirmed she had suffered no fractures.

Annemiek van Vleuten soloed to victory at La Course by Le Tour de France on the Col d’Izoard (pic – ASO)

Deignan’s Boels-Dolmans team – without Giro Rosa champion and Women’s WorldTour leader Anna van der Breggen – had controlled the peloton in the early stages, but Deignan was the only one left at the front of the bunch on the Col d’Izoard.

And while she was able to cover Van Vleuten’s first attack as the gradients started to bite, the Yorkshirewoman could not follow when the Orica-Scott rider kicked again.

Riding up onto the barren Casse Deserte at the top of the iconic climb, Van Vleuten’s pain was clear but she boasted a 43-second lead as she soloed to victory.

Deignan held on for second place, having led the front group for large chunks of the stage, in pursuit of lone leader Linda Villumsen on the final climb.

Deignan’s pace-setting was initially for team-mate Megan Guarnier, but when her team-mate lost the wheels at the back, she pushed on to claim second herself, while Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) was third at 1’23”.

Those time gaps will now come into play for the second stage of the newly revamped La Course, when they take on a pursuit-like time trial in Marseille on Saturday.

Lizzie Deignan’s efforts in finishing second earned her the combativity prize (pic – ASO)

Taking inspiration from the inaugural Hammer Series last month, the top 21 finishers on the stage will take part in the time trial, with start times staggered according to their finish time on the Col d’Izoard.

Van Vleuten will therefore start with a 43-second advantage for the stage, which takes place on road bikes, and the Dutch time trial champion will expect to claim victory.

La Course by Le Tour de France 2017: stage one – result

1) Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) – Orica-Scott – 2.07.18hrs
2) Lizzie Deignan (GBR) – Boels-Dolmans +43″
3) Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) – Wiggle-High5 +1.23
4) Megan Guarnier (USA) – Boels-Dolmans +1.28
5) Shara Gillow (AUS) – FDJ +1.33
6) Amanda Spratt (AUS) – Orica-Scott +1.41
7) Lauren Stephens (USA) – Team TIBCO-SVB +1.51
8) Ana Cristina Sanabria Sanchez (VEN) – Servetto-Giusta +2.24
9) Katarzyna Niewiadoma (POL) – WM3 +2.52
10) Hanna Nilson (SWE) – BTC City Ljubljana +3.04

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