Vuleta a Burgos stage winner Grace Brown dug deep as she sprinted to fifth place in a relentless and thrilling edition of La Course by le Tour de France.
The punishing 107km race burst into life inside the final 40km as Spanish climber Ane Santesteban made it into a strong 13-rider group on the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups climb.
The peloton eventually reacted to the move on the following ascent of the climb as a reduced bunch bridged across to the attackers on the lower slopes. A fresh attack was then launched over the top, with Brown quick to react as she followed the wheels to make up part of a 12-rider escape group.
As the bell rang out of the last lap the group held an advantage of 45 seconds, but with no cooperation amongst the leaders the gap soon began to fall. The catch was eventually made with 4km to go as Team BikeExchange moved to the front with Australian champion Sarah Roy leading into the foot of the final climb.
Attacks were launched immediately with Brown once again amongst a select group to edge off the front of the pack. Several riders then attempted to go solo in the closing metres, but the day ultimately came down to a nervous and cagey sprint for the line with Brown fighting to fifth place behind winner Demi Vollering.
“It was an exciting race, right from the start the pace was super high in the peloton. We had Ane in a break when we first hit the circuit and then I followed another move which stayed away until the final ascent to the finish line.
Roy gave us a great lead out, but I probably made a mistake trying to follow an attack by Tiff Cromwell at the start of the climb. In the end I didn’t quite have the kick I needed to contest the sprint.”
Alejandro González-Tablas (Sports Director):
“It was a pretty good day, the girls rode really well as a team and they all had their opportunity to be in breakaways and we had Ane there covering an important moves as we came onto the local laps.
The Grace made it into another break and she tried to play it a little bit cool knowing the group was coming from behind. In the end she was just missing the legs a little bit after make some efforts that we could have avoided.
But in the end it went to plan and we achieved the goals that we set for this race, so we are happy and full of confidence going into the Giro.”
2021 La Course – Results:
1. Demi Vollering 2:59:29
2. Cecillie Uttrup Ludwig ST
3. Marianne Vos ST
5. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) ST
Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.