Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking has won La Course by Le Tour de France in a bunch sprint on probably the most prestigious avenue in World Cycling, the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The Australian Sprint blasted past late breakaway rider Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) in the final 100 metres of the race, with Finnish Champion Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) and former World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) trailing across the line metres behind her.
“I was like ‘Are they coming? Are they coming?’ And then they didn’t come!” Hosking said afterwards. “To cross the line with my hands in the air was just crazy! I still haven’t seen my teammates, I think they came down in some crashes, so I’m a bit like ‘I want to know where they are!’
“I just kept riding after the finish, and people probably thought I was a bit weird,” Hosking laughed. “But my family and my fiancé are about 200 metres past the finish line, so I just wanted to go and see them. I think we’re all in a bit of disbelief at the moment.”
Hosking’s victory came at the end of a strong race for every member of the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team, with Dutch Classics specialist Amy Pieters part of a late breakaway that was only closed down in the closing kilometres of the final lap. Unfortunately, Olympic Track Champion Dani King and French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot were brought down in late crashes, but their work to protect Hosking throughout the race had been done.
“They were incredible,’ Hosking said. “There were a few moments there. We missed that first break that had about three or four girls in it, but I just looked up the peloton and they were all just on the front. Then Amy Pieters was in a break with a lap to go, and I don’t even know when we caught them actually…
“Amy Roberts, our young British rider, was up the front, then at the back, and then up the front and never gave up. Then of course Audrey, our French rider, was protecting me for the last three laps, and put me in position.
“I’m so lucky!”
Despite the hard work from many teams to ensure a bunch sprint, van Dijk escaped alone just as the Pieters break was caught on the Quai des Tuileries, just before the peloton ducked into the tunnel beneath the Jardin des Tuileries for the last time. With a kilometre to go it looked as though the former World Time Trial Champion might be able to hold off the sprinters but, as she crossed the Place de la Concorde on the approach to the finishing straight, the Dutchwoman was in Hosking’s sights.
As she accelerated, Hosking surged several lengths clear of her sprint rivals, and had crossed the line before they could pull her back.
“She sort of took a flyer as we through the tunnel and I was just jumping from train to train,” Hosking explained. “First of all Canyon were going, then Rabo came, and I came through that bottom corner - which is still 400 to go - on Pauline Ferrand-Prevot’s wheel.
“Then she sort of swung with 300 to go and I thought ‘this is way too early!’ but I went, kicked, sat on Ellen’s wheel, and then kicked again. As I said, I was waiting for them to come, and they didn’t come!”
Hosking’s victory is her fourth in the UCI Women’s WorldTour in 2016. The Australian sprinter won the second stage of the Tour of Chongming Island in May, then went on to take the race overall, and won her first ever stage of the Giro d’Italia Femminile earlier this month.
1. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla)
3. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
photos Janos Schmidt