Lizzie Deignan made it two for two in Marseille on Saturday – that is two times seconds place at the new look La Course. The British road champion was the second to start the handicapped pursuit race and out-sprinted Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) for second place inside the Orange VéloDrome.
The stage two La Course podium was identical to the podium atop Izoard, with Deignan sandwiched between race winner Annemiek van Vleuten and Longo Borghini. American Megan Guarnier was best of the rest in fourth place.
“I enjoyed the crowds,” said Deignan. “It’s not something we get often. I’m grateful for all the people that supported us today.”
The 22-kilometre race was run over the same course used in the men’s penultimate stage Tour de France time trial. While the men’s race was run per usual – with riders racing against the clock at one- or two-minute intervals, the women’s race had staggered starts based on finish times from stage one. Van Vleuten, who climbed to victory 43-seconds ahead of Deignan on Thursday, enjoyed a 43-second head start on Deignan.
Believing the gap too large to bridge solo, Deignan opted to wait for Longo Borghini and Guarnier, who started 1:23 and 1:28 back respectively. Although the trio collaborated in pursuit of Van Vleuten, they proved unable to bridge the distance.
“For me it was more about Thursday was a race and today was a bit of fun,” noted Deignan. “I’m open-minded to it. I get it. There needs to be changes in modern in cycling. It’s all business at the end of the day. It’s about giving the consumer something new, something interesting. We got exposure today, but it’s not quite where it needs to be, behind the scenes: organisation-wise, logistics-wise. We were left wondering what was happening a lot of time.”
Three became two when Longo Borghini lifted the pace up the steep climb in the second half of the course.
“I wish I had done a recon today,” said Deignan. “I was not expecting that climb! They told me there was a small climb, a kilometre-and-a-half. I thought nice one. Elisa, fair enough, played the game a little bit and sat on me and Megan and didn’t really pull. I thought she was tired and then she went for it on the climb, and I thought: ‘I’m not letting you go then.’ I stuck to her.”
Stuck to her and stayed in her slipstream. Only in the final kilometres did Deignan came to the front again. She led into the Orange Velodrome, sprinting from the front to take the win.