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La Course returns to Paris – world champion brands it “nothing more than a criterium”

Annemiek van Vleuten says return to the Champs Élysées is a “step back”

Annemiek van Vleuten has reacted to Amaury Sport Organisation's (ASO) decision to bring La Course back to Paris by branding the race “nothing more than a criterium.” The road world champion feels the move is “a step back.”

"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," said ASO in a press release last week.

After three editions on the Champs Élysées, La Course moved away from the French capital. Van Vleuten herself won both stages in 2017 – a summit finish atop the Izoard and a somewhat experimental handicap pursuit race the following day that was contested by the top 20 finishers on stage one. She also triumphed in 2018 after a solitary road stage that finished on the Col de la Colombière.

This year, La Course comprised five laps of a hilly circuit in Pau and covered 121km. It was won by Vos.

Speaking to NOS, Van Vleuten expressed disappointment at the return to Paris in 2020 and implied that the format of the event diminished the Women’s WorldTour.

"Have I heard La Course is in Paris?" she said. "To my disappointment, yes. This is a step back. It is now nothing more than a criterium. While it is still known as a WorldTour competition, for the men criteriums are not included in the WorldTour."

In June, double Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell Shand expressed her belief that organisers ASO, "don't really seem to care much about women's cycling" for similar reasons.

The organisation later claimed that it was looking into launching a major women's race which "would be to women's cycling what the Tour de France is to men's cycling.”

However, a spokesperson said that there could not be a women's Tour de France at the same time as the men's Tour because it would be logistically impossible.

Dame Sarah Storey was among those to disagree.

“No one is saying it’s easy,” she said. “Logistically holding both a men’s and a women’s Tour at the same time is a real conundrum. Do you run the stages on the same day? Over the same route?”

“I think you can. To me it makes sense to use the same infrastructure; the fact that everything – every village, every road – is already shut down for the entire day. Everything is already in place.”

She added that at present La Course felt like “a token gesture”.

Van Vleuten said that she was not asking for a women's Tour de France of 21 stages, but simply an event more challenging than a flat circuit race.

"I don't need a multi-day La Course, but a tough stage would be nice," she said. "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'."

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5 comments

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Kestevan | 4 years ago
0 likes

Jeeze,  Its just the women, not like it's proper sport or anything.

Perhaps they should stop moaning, be grateful for what they have and get back in the kitchen between babies..........

 

Sorry -  I was just getting my thoughts in order for a job application with ASO or the UCI. Should fit in fine with the other knuckle-dragging misogynists running world cycling.

 

Avatar
crazy-legs | 4 years ago
7 likes

Controversial view but bear with me.

They should bin off "La Course" entirely.

As mentioned above in the story, it's a half-arsed token gesture that does more to alienate and marginalise women and women's racing than it does to promote it. Either don't do it at all - put all your effort and promotion into Le Tour de France - or do a proper women's race (either at the same time or separately, doesn't really matter).

Like Ovo Energy Women's Tour in June and the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain in September. Same parent company (Sweetspot), same sponsors, same prize list. That's the way to do it.

The riders and teams all reckon that Ovo Energy Women's Tour is one of the best stage races in the world and it's because it's set up to cater specifically for them. Everything is focussed around those athletes for a whole week - there's none of this embarrassing "would you mind slowing down a bit so you don't catch the men" or "can you all pull over so we can get the men through for their sprint finish" or "sorry, you'll be late starting becasue the men are still on course". It's just them and it's televised, it's got good racing on proper roads and it's great exposure for the teams. It didn't just start that way, of course not, but by developing it over the years, Sweetspot have shown what can be done with some hard work and focus on it. They didn't just tack a 1-day race onto the end of the men's Tour and try and claim it was amazing, they did it properly.

Every year now we've had these same news articles about La Course and how it's a bit of a sideshow, it's just a token crit around Paris... Bin it off and develop a proper stage race Women's Tour de France.

Avatar
EddyBerckx replied to crazy-legs | 4 years ago
2 likes
crazy-legs wrote:

Controversial view but bear with me.

They should bin off "La Course" entirely.

As mentioned above in the story, it's a half-arsed token gesture that does more to alienate and marginalise women and women's racing than it does to promote it. Either don't do it at all - put all your effort and promotion into Le Tour de France - or do a proper women's race (either at the same time or separately, doesn't really matter).

Like Ovo Energy Women's Tour in June and the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain in September. Same parent company (Sweetspot), same sponsors, same prize list. That's the way to do it.

The riders and teams all reckon that Ovo Energy Women's Tour is one of the best stage races in the world and it's because it's set up to cater specifically for them. Everything is focussed around those athletes for a whole week - there's none of this embarrassing "would you mind slowing down a bit so you don't catch the men" or "can you all pull over so we can get the men through for their sprint finish" or "sorry, you'll be late starting becasue the men are still on course". It's just them and it's televised, it's got good racing on proper roads and it's great exposure for the teams. It didn't just start that way, of course not, but by developing it over the years, Sweetspot have shown what can be done with some hard work and focus on it. They didn't just tack a 1-day race onto the end of the men's Tour and try and claim it was amazing, they did it properly.

Every year now we've had these same news articles about La Course and how it's a bit of a sideshow, it's just a token crit around Paris... Bin it off and develop a proper stage race Women's Tour de France.

This.

ASO are taking the piss and everyone knows it

Avatar
The_Vermonter replied to crazy-legs | 4 years ago
0 likes

After a thorough review, there is precisely NOTHING controversial about this. You are correct.

If Prudhomme was just honest and said "We at ASO cannot be bothered to make any effort and last year's 'La Course' being entertaining was a fluke and not our intent" he'd still be a clown but he'd be an honest one.

 

crazy-legs wrote:

Controversial view but bear with me.

They should bin off "La Course" entirely.

As mentioned above in the story, it's a half-arsed token gesture that does more to alienate and marginalise women and women's racing than it does to promote it. Either don't do it at all - put all your effort and promotion into Le Tour de France - or do a proper women's race (either at the same time or separately, doesn't really matter).

Like Ovo Energy Women's Tour in June and the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain in September. Same parent company (Sweetspot), same sponsors, same prize list. That's the way to do it.

The riders and teams all reckon that Ovo Energy Women's Tour is one of the best stage races in the world and it's because it's set up to cater specifically for them. Everything is focussed around those athletes for a whole week - there's none of this embarrassing "would you mind slowing down a bit so you don't catch the men" or "can you all pull over so we can get the men through for their sprint finish" or "sorry, you'll be late starting becasue the men are still on course". It's just them and it's televised, it's got good racing on proper roads and it's great exposure for the teams. It didn't just start that way, of course not, but by developing it over the years, Sweetspot have shown what can be done with some hard work and focus on it. They didn't just tack a 1-day race onto the end of the men's Tour and try and claim it was amazing, they did it properly.

Every year now we've had these same news articles about La Course and how it's a bit of a sideshow, it's just a token crit around Paris... Bin it off and develop a proper stage race Women's Tour de France.

Avatar
Awavey replied to crazy-legs | 4 years ago
0 likes
crazy-legs wrote:

Controversial view but bear with me.

 

not controversial at all, I totally agree, La Course is a joke, as is the Ride London Classique fwiw for the same reasons, its just doubly annoying as classified UCI wwt events (whilst the likes Flèche-Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège  arent anymore thanks to the ASO) riders/teams will feel forced to race in them to collect points whether they want to or not so it will seem like they support them

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