Saturday 26th August 2017
It’s the last big Classic of the women’s cycling season, and wow, I love this race. It’s got one of the ugliest tough climbs in the sport, the Côte du Ty Marrec, which is this tough, grinding dual big wide road that looks pretty benign, but is tough as hell. It was the site of what’s still one of my all-time favourite cycling moments, in 2010, when Emma Pooley, after sandbagging her heart out, caught Marianne Vos, Emma Johansson and Judith Arndt out on that last climb, attacking up the inside right just as Vos looked over her left shoulder. I’ll never get bored of that!
And then last year, after hundreds of attacks, catches, splits and reformations, a group of around 20 elite riders came to the line together, and definite underdog Eugenia Bujak started her sprint surprisingly – and won! The biggest result of her career, and for her team BTC City Ljubljana.
And that’s what makes a Classic classic to me – that feeling that we’ve got no idea what will happen right up til the last moment. Plouay, like all my favourite races, has been won every way from solo to small group to large bunch, and I love it for it. Who could win? Practically anyone!
Like last year, it’s 4 laps of the 26.9km circuit, and then one of 13.9km. I have to warn you, there’s pretty much no mobile phone coverage of the northern part of the big loop, because it’s running through beautiful forests, so we don’t get many updates on twitter, BUT part of it is live on TV!
How to watch and follow
The race starts at 13:40 European CEST (12:40pm UK BST; 9:40pm Australian AEST; 7:40am North American EDT)
TV coverage will start at 15:15 CEST (2:15pm BST; 11:15pm AEST; 9:15am EDT) on France 3 TV, which you can watch here if you’re in France (or via VPN). It’s also going to stream on the Eurosport Player, through maybe without commentary, and there could be more streams here and here – and I’ll tweet streams on the day.
To follow on twitter (with the caveat of the lack of mobile coverage on a lot of the course), the race twitter is a good one, last year’s hashtag was #GPPlouay, and of course there’s #UCIWWT too. And I have my usual list of live-tweeters.
The provisional startlist is here, and there is the great Cycling Fever one too. Tons more information, including about the full 4 days of Plouay cycling festival, on the race website.
Want more? Collections of videos of Marianne Vos winning 2013, 2014‘s solo win by Lucinda Brand; 2015, won by Lizzie Deignan from a small group.
Big thanks to my amazing Patreon supporters for funding me to do this kind of thing.