She won La Course by Le Tour de France in emphatic style in Nice last year after displaying a tactical masterclass alongside teammate Elisa Longo Borghini, but defending champion Lizzie Deignan was unable to repeat her 2020 result today on the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups. The Trek-Segafredo rider was within touching distance of the front group of favourites on the final ascent of the climb, but was unable to follow the final few attacks of the race, eventually finishing 9th. Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) won the race in a sprint finish from a small group.
“To be honest today was just a bad day from the start to the finish,” the 33-year-old said in a post-race interview. “I felt terrible. So I knew it was just about suffering and I just didn’t have it when I needed it. I didn’t have the finish like the girls in front.”
Deignan suffered from repeated illnesses throughout the early part of the season and is on her way back to form ahead of the Olympic Games – which she will race alongside SD Worx rider Anna Shackley.
Despite having a slow start to the year, Deignan has been looking good in recent races. She worked for her teammate Lucinda Brand to take the win at the Internationale LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour in May, coming 9th overall herself. Earlier this month, she won the general classification at the inaugural Tour de Suisse Women, picking up bonus seconds in intermediate sprints to edge out Elise Chabbey.
Deignan described the eighth, and possibly final, edition of La Course as “tough”. Alongside her Trek-Segafredo teammates, she was present at the front as the attritional race progressed on the road from Brest to Landerneau, but unable to make any of the moves that went on the rolling course.
Deignan’s teammate Lucinda Brand made it into one of the most enduring breakaways of the race after closing down attacks and monitoring the front alongside Tayler Wiles and Audrey Cordon Ragot earlier on. Once Brand’s group was brought back Ruth Winder was the next Trek-Segafredo rider to get herself up the road. The gap to Winder’s group stretched to over one minute meaning Deignan could sit in the wheels behind. Unfortunately for the team effort, however, the British rider didn’t have the edge on the day.
“The form is there but today was just such a bad day that I couldn’t suffer enough to be there,” Deignan said. “It’s frustrating but I think as a team we rode really well, we were represented in all the breakaways. The team looked after me really well, so it was just a shame I didn’t have the feeling to finish it off.”
Provisionally, Deignan’s next race is the 10-day Giro d’italia Donne, starting 2nd July where she will be reunited with teammate Elisa Longo Borghini who last year took third overall.