On Sunday 27th July it’ll be one of the most talked-about women’s races of the year, and probably the easiest race to watch live since the 2012 Olympic Games – La Course by le Tour de France.
The race is up and down the Champs Elysées, 89km, 13 laps of the 6.85 kilometre course, on the cobbles, with 2 corners at one end:
Velofocus has a race previous with streetview of the route.
It starts at 12:50 French time, CEST (11:50am UK BST; 8:50pm Aus AEST, 6:50am USA EST, 3:50am USA PST) and is due to finish around 2 hours later. It will be shown live on a huge range of tv stations worldwide – 153 countries covered – and you can find the broadcasters at the bottom of the La Course page – or in this graphic:
I’ll be watching on ITV4 (click for stream) with commentary from Rochelle Gilmore, because she really knows what it’s like to race courses like this. Their coverage starts at 1pm UK, so I’ll be fishing for coverage before then too. Here’s their promo
I recommend you check your broadcaster of choice before the race starts, just to be certain it will be live – for example, in the USA it’s not live on NBC, it’s highlights in the men’s TdF coverage – and of course, if you don’t have live coverage, there are likely to be live streams all over the web (I find these three places to be especially useful with that, and lots of people use Hola or Tunnelbear to help them watch streams).
If you want twitter commentary as the race happens, the #LaCourse twitter hashtag is the place to look, and the official twitter is @LaCoursebyTdF. Tons of info on the race website and facebook – and while there’s no official startlist out yet, CyclingFever have been researching theirs online, so it’s the best there is for now.
There are hundreds of articles about La Course and the history of women in the Tour de France all over the web – for example, this piece on VeloNews, Marianne Vos talking about it at the press conference and this Bicycling interview with Kathryn Bertine, one of the women behind the Le Tour Entier campaign to get this race to even happen in the first place. And lots of fun media – I love this video with André Greipel and Marcel Kittel:
It’s s shorter race than the normal day races, and while I absolutely am expecting attacks an breakaways, I think it’ll come down to a sprint from a mid-sized group. Watch out for all the Dutch and Belgians, who have grown up racing cobbled crits – Jolien D’Hoore (Lotto Belisol) and Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) for example – as well as all the top sprinters – three-times World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) who won the first sprint stage of the women’s Giro, USA’s Shelley Olds (Alé Cipollini) and tough Aussie battler Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) – and of course the three consummate all-rounders who are tactical geniuses and racing so well right now – Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) who this year added a Road World Cup to her 9 track Cup titles, World Champs gold and Olympic road silver; Emma Johansson (ORICA-AIS) who’s currently no. 1 in the UCI rankings and won the Trofeo Binda this year…. and of course, multiple road and Olympic champion, THE best rider anywhere in the World, Marianne Vos (Rabo), who won her third Giro, and has to start as the favourite for this race, like she does with every big event.
But if you held a gun to my head, the rider I think is most likely to win this is über-sprinter Kirsten Wild of Liv-Shimano. If I think what this course reminds me of, it’s the Doha stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar – and Wild just stomps all over that race. Have a look at the videos from last year and this year, and here’s the last lap from that Doha stage in 2013
Jens has gone into more detail about who’s won on Podium Café – head over and read it!
If you want to see how riders are going right now, I’ve got collections of videos of the recent racing – last week had 3 women’s races, the hilly Thüringen Rundfahrt, seaside Tour de Bretagne and the sprinty BeNe Ladies Tour, and all the videos I’ve found are here – and the sprint stages of the women’s Grand Tour, the Giro Rosa, were Stage 2, Stage 4, Stage 5 and Stage 7 – click through to those links and you’ll see all the video, links, results and blogs. And if you want to listen to Dan and me talk about the racing, here are some recent podcasts – this week’s, on Thüringen etc, and last week’s, on the Giro.
I’ll be talking through the race on twitter, and in the livethread on Podium Café, and if you’re new to women’s cycling, or haven’t watched for a while, ask me any questions at all, on twit or in the comments – and if you don’t know who to support, as always, if you tell me your favourite male rider and why you like them, and I’ll find an equivalent woman in the peloton for you to cheer for!
UPDATE! This is both charming and touching – Kathryn Bertine‘s video explaining how she lost everything this year, working on the Half the Road film and Le Tour Entier, and how Wiggle Honda have mended her broken heart by taking her to race in Paris