Five British riders will compete in the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday 27 July in Paris, amid a top-class field of women’s cycling talent.
Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead, former world time-trial champion Emma Pooley, double junior world road champion Lucy Garner, 2012 British road champion Sharon Laws and 2013 British circuit race champion Hannah Barnes are all on the start list.
The 89-kilometre race takes place on the iconic Tour de France finishing circuit, the Champs Elysees, hours before the Tour de France peloton arrives to contest the final sprint and welcome the 2014 malliot jaune.
Lizzie Armitstead comes into the race as UCI Women’s Road World Cup overall leader and will head the challenge to world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos, who arrives fresh from overall victory in the Giro Rosa, the women’s edition of the Giro d’Italia.
Meanwhile Armistead took the mountains jersey and second place overall at the women’s Thuringen Rundfahrt last week and will be keen to renew her rivalry with Vos in Paris.
Emma Pooley will start in excellent form after winning three stages and the mountains jersey in the Giro Rosa, riding for Lotto Belisol Ladies.
Sharon Laws and Hannah Barnes both start for the United Healthcare squad and fast-finisher Barnes will be keen to mix it in the sprint with the world’s best.
Giant-Shimano’s Lucy Garner is pencilled on the start list and, like Barnes, will be keen to try out her sprint on the hallowed cobbles of the Champs Elysees.
Speaking in the Telegraph, Lizzie Armistead said, “I’m excited that this year’s Tour will feature the first La Course event because it’s such a huge step forward for women’s cycling.
“It’s going to be really impressive and we need to make sure we put on a good show because we don’t normally have access to that kind of audience at all.”
Emma Pooley also welcomed the race in an interview with Cycling News.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic because it will be such a great platform for people to see women’s cycling,” Pooley said.
“I hope that it’s the start of bigger things but it’s going to be a great race in its own right because women’s races are often interesting to watch and this will be great in that people will get the chance to watch us race.”
La Course is part of the UCI’s Women’s Cycling Week, an international series of events throughout July with the goal of growing women’s cycling at every level.
British Cycling's women’s strategy, launched in 2013, aims to get one million more women cycling by 2020.
La Course by Le Tour de France begins at 12:50pm local time for 89-kilometres of racing and is scheduled to finish at 3:00pm, prior to the Tour de France grand finale.