It’s hard to believe the GP de Plouay can get any better, as one of the most action-packed races of the late season, but a new-look parcours promises even more fireworks at the one-day race held in Plouay, France on August 27.
The race has been part of the women’s calendar for twenty years, first as part of the Women’s World Cup, and now a staple on the Women’s WorldTour since its inception in 2016.
It doesn’t garner as much attention as the Spring Classics or Ardennes Classics but its circuit-style route in and around the small town of Plouay lends itself well to intense bike racing, and it’s a much-looked forward to event among the world-class peloton.
“Plouay is a favourite race on the calendar for many riders, myself included. It’s an undulating course that makes the racing unpredictable. It favours riders that are brave and willing to take risks to win. Even with the new course, I expect it to be raced aggressively. We have a strong team, and we aim for the win,” said Alena Amialiusik of Canyon-SRAM.
Organisers have introduced a new-look to this year’s edition with a 159.5km route that includes a new larger 127km loop, followed by 2.5 laps of a 11.7km local circuit around Plouay. The overall elevation remains the same from last year’s circuit-style race at just over 2,100m. Canyon-SRAM is expecting the parcours change to likely impact the race dynamics.
The route has had many small tweaks over the years but the essence of the race has always remained the same and plays into the hands of the most opportunistic in the peloton, those riders who can handle the relentless bursts of power over short climbs and who are willing to take big risks. Traditionally this race comes down to a small group sprint or a winning breakaway.
Previous winners include Regina Schleicher, who won the inaugural edition in 2002, Nicole Cooke, Edita Pučinskaitė, Noemi Cantele (twice), Nicole Brändli, Fabiana Luperini, Emma Pooley (twice), Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos (twice), Lucinda Brand, Eugenia Bujak, Amy Pieters, Anna van der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan (a record three times), while Elisa Longo Borghini is the defending champion.
Could this be the year a French rider wins?
A French rider has never won the GP de Plouay, but this could be the year with 33 of the nation’s top riders on the start line.
Evita Muzic will join her French WorldTeam, FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope, in the hunt for the victory to continue the team’s success this season. On the start line will be Juliette Labous (Team DSM), national champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), Aude Biannic (Movistar), and Gladys Verhulst (Le Col-Wahoo).
Verhulst finished in second place last year, and is the only French rider to finish on the podium apart from Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who was second in 2017 and third in 2014 and 2015.
The demanding course favours a certain type of rider and will no doubt cater to the likes of defending champion Elisa Longo Borghini.
The Italian will lead a Trek-Segafredo squad looking for an opportunity for a victory in the late season calendar. She hasn’t won a race since the time trial title at the Italian Championships, and before that, her overall title at the Women’s Tour and Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
After a much needed break following the back-to-back Giro Donne and Tour de France Femmes, watch for Longo Borghini to be in full form for the final one-day race of the Women’s WorldTour.
All eyes will also be on Longo Borghini’s compatriot Silvia Persico. The 25-year-old racing for Valcar Travel & Service was the revelation of the Tour de France Femmes after she finished seven of the eight stages inside the top 10 and was fifth overall, a performance that has secured her a spot on a WorldTour team in 2023.
The course is perfectly suited to her strength in both a sprint and climb, and she exudes confidence among her more veteran rivals in the field.
When you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has won the Danish national title, a stage at the Tour de France Femmes, a stage and the overall title at the Tour of Scandinavia, and will bring that top form into the GP de Plouay. FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope will also be a tough team to beat with Grace Brown and Muzic in the mix.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak leads a strong SD Worx team that also includes Blanka Vas and Marlen Reusser, while UAE Team Emirates field Mavi Garcia as their opportunist, and Kristen Faulkner will lead BikeExchange-Jayco.
There are riders who have risen to the occasion this year, but for one reason or another, haven’t gotten that coveted top-tier victory. Riders like Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco), Liane Lippert (Team DSM), and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), will be looking to take that success in Plouay.
- Liv Racing Xstra
- Team SD Worx
- EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
- Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
- InstaFund Racing
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Team DSM
- Canyon-SRAM Racing
- Human Powered Health
- Movistar Team
- Team BikeExchange-Jayco
- UAE Team ADQ
- Arkéa Pro Cycling Team
- Cofidis Women Team
- St Michel – Auber93
- Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime
- Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
- Emotional.fr-Tornatech-GSC Blagnac VS31
- Le Col-Wahoo
- Parkhotel Valkenburg
- Valcar-Travel & Service