Former UCI World Champion, the Briton Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) won the Grand-prix de Plouay - Lorient-Agglomération - Trophée Ceratizit under the rain ahead of another Lizzie, her compatriot Elizabeth Banks (Équipe Paule Ka). Italian Chiara Consonni (Valcar - Travel & Service) won the peloton's sprint to take third place with a gap of 1’13’’. It’s the third victory for Deignan, who was crowned already in 2015 and 2017.
It’s a busy week in Plouay: the 2000 UCI Road World Championship host city has a dense calendar of 17 races in six days with the three Grands Prix de Plouay (Elite Women, Junior Men and amateur men), the Bretagne Classic and the European Road Championships in collaboration with the UEC (European Cycling Union) and helped by the volunteers of the Comité des Fêtes de Plouay et de Plouay Cyclisme Organisation.
A loved raced by UCI World Champions
Grand-prix de Plouay - Lorient-Agglomération - Trophée Ceratizit is one of the races most loved by UCI World Champions, with 11 of the last 14 rainbow jerseys having been on its podium at least once. The last one was the Dutchwoman Anna Van der Breggen, winner of the 2019 edition. Besides Deignan, four other athletes have been able to win twice: the Australian Anna Millward (1999 and 2001), Italy’s Noemi Cantele (2005 and 2007), Briton Emma Pooley (2009 and 2010), and The Netherlands’ Marianne Vos (2012 and 2013). The Women's World Tour race has been part of the calendar since 2002, calling on the best riders to compete on the Brittany course which is traditionally quite suitable for attackers.
Riders completed a first 42.7km loop then four – instead of the originally planned six – laps of the punchy 13.6km Circuit de Plouay for a total race distance of 101.1km, slightly shorter than previous edition’s 128km. There were ten categorized ascents along the the circuit, opening with the Cote du Lezot (1km at 4.7%, with very steep sections hitting a 19% gradient) followed by a short descent and flatter section before the second climb of Montee de Lann Payot (1.3km at 2.6%) with the third, the Côte du Pont-Neuf (1.5km at 4.2%) ending just 2km from the finish line.
The Lizzies break away under the rain
Several new national champions took part of the race including the defending champion Anna van der Breggen, who recently became Dutch champion (and then won the time trial at the UEC European Championships as well) along with Polish champion Marta Lach, Spanish champion Mavi Garcia, USA champion Ruth Winder and Elisa Longo Borghini, winner of the Italian time trial race. Current UCI World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten from the Netherlands was on the start line along with former rainbow jerseys like other her compatriot Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and the Dane Amalie Dideriksen. There was also the German rider Liane Lippert, current leader of the Women’s WorldTour after winning the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in February and getting 16th place at Strade Bianche, a race which was dominated by Van Vleuten.
The race’s first real breakaway happened before the third passage under the finish line with two “Lizzies”: Lizzie Deignan and Lizzy Banks crossed the line with one minute on the peloton. Rainbow jersey Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) led a small chasing group at 25km to go along with another favourite, Lippert (Team Sunweb) then it was the turn of the trio of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott) and Mavi Garcia (Alé BTC Ljubljana) but they were caught after few kilometers by the small peloton. On the last passage under the line, the British duo had still 43 seconds to manage from the 10-strong group that was led by Van Vleuten.
On the final climb ending just 2km from the finish line, the two Lizzies had enough advantage, one and a half minutes, thanks in no small part to the hard work of Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) in the chasing group, shutting down the counterattacks. Eventually, the chasers were caught by the peloton. In the front, Deignan took advantage of her better sprinting ability to easily win the race for the third time, the first hat-trick in the history of the race.