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Demi Vollering Shows No Mercy at the 8th (and Final?) Edition of La Course 

By Megan Flottorp

Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) sailed to victory on Saturday, claiming the top spot in the 8th edition of La Course by Le Tour de France held on the morning of stage 1 of the men’s Tour de France. Vollering may also have made history as the last woman to win this challenging race, which is among the most popular events on the Women’s WorldTour calendar. 

Originally scheduled to take place on circuits at Mûr-de-Bretagne on June 27, the race was shifted to June 26,with a route similar to that of the Tour de France stage 1 from Brest to Landerneau. Ultimately, the women’s peloton raced a 107.4km route that started in Brest and finished with three 14-kilometre laps with the finish line atop the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups in Landerneau.

And just as fans have come to expect—there was plenty of aggressive racing on display. Following a solid and dynamic contest, the outcome was settled after a strong breakaway of twelve riders, with only five kilometres to go. The title came down to the final ascent of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, and after several attacks —a group of eight came onto the finishing straight together. World champion Anna van der Breggen (Team SD Worx) opened up the sprint early.

It was the younger Dutchwoman who would ultimately power through to take the top spot, though. The 24-year-old, Demi Vollering, was the fastest in a sprint out of a group of eight, passing Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) on the last metres to claim the title. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) also managed to outmanoeuvre Vos in order to finish second. Vos took third place.

“It almost went wrong because Vos was going all the way to the right, and I was boxed in a bit. Anna made the speed and forced Marianne to go already. Then I could go in Marianne’s slipstream and come over her,” Vollering told Cycling News of the finish.

La Course 2021
Demi Vollering (C), Marianne Vos (L) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (R). © Profimedia

“I was really looking forward to the race this morning, but I was not expecting to win. It was an awesome race and gives me a lot of confidence. And now that I won La Course, I am looking forward to the women’s Tour de France next year,” she added.

Demi Vollering can’t be stopped 

There is no doubt about the fact that Vollering has been having an epic season, and her victory on Saturday means that she has moved into the overall lead of the Women’s World Tour. With only two years of experience in the professional peloton, Vollering’s rise proves both that consistency is key and that a rider must trust their instincts.

Vollering started the season off with a bang at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, establishing right away that the young Dutch rider was going to be a game-changer for SD Worx. She’s since been repeatedly likened to Anna Van der Breggen and is doing an excellent job of proving that she’s worthy of the comparison—and of taking up the mantle after Van der Breggen’s upcoming retirement.

The way things unfolded at this year’s La Flèche Wallonne speaks to the transfer of power. Van der Breggen was initially hesitant to put Vollering on the front, unsure whether her own legs had what was needed to come out on top. Vollering was operating on instinct, though. She ignored her team leader and jumped on the front anyway.

Upon completing the race, Van der Breggen praised Vollering’s split-second decision-making and dedication. It didn’t take long for her to get the chance to repay the favour, either. A few days later, Van der Breggen put down a 10km leadout for her young teammate to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. With an epic win at La Course now under her belt, let’s just say that Vollering is surely one of the most exciting and dynamic riders in the peloton. We can undoubtedly expect more stunning victories as this young rider continues to prove what she is capable of.

The last La Course

Vollering’s victory on Saturday will likely come to mark an important moment in cycling history, as well. Despite being one of the most popular events on the Women’s WorldTour, this year could mark the last La Course, as it will be replaced by the official launch of the Tour de France Femmes in 2022.

The event, which was initially launched in 2014, after a successful petition to ASO to include women’s racing alongside the Tour de France, has essentially succeeded in its mission of getting a foot in the door for women at cycling’s most iconic race. The first instalment started as a circuit race on the Champs Elysées on the final day of the Tour de France. Next year, though, it’s time for the women to tackle the whole thing for themselves. A testament to the tremendous growth of women’s cycling over the last several years—we can’t wait to see the women’s peloton rise to the occasion and give fans even more reason to cheer. We’re willing to bet that Vollering will prove a force to be reckoned with at that race, too.