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  La Route de France Preview  
  After a quiet week the women's peloton returns to racing at La Route de France. While there are no clashes on the calendar the majority of the top UCI teams have been or are currently holding training camps ahead of the final World Cup races of the season. Wiggle Honda is here as is Liv Plantur and Hitec but the likes of Rabo, Boels Dolmans, Orica and Velocio-SRAM have elected to stay away.

Defending Champion Claudia Lichtenberg returns and is looking to go back to back while 2007 winner Amber Neben continues to make her return to the top level of the sport

The GC will get a shake up on day one with a short 3-kilometre prologue but the gaps are not going to be huge. The sprinters get a number of opportunities but inclusion of a summit finish on stage 5 at La Planche Des Belles Filles is likely to be the deciding the overall. The final stage is far from flat and could again see some changes if riders are suffering from the previous days climbing.

2014 Results

Stage 1: Claudia LICHTENBERG
Stage 2: Barbara GUARISCHI
Stage 3: Giorgia BRONZINI
Stage 4: Kirsten WILD
Stage 5: Audrey CORDON
Stage 6: Kirsten WILD
Stage 7: Iris SLAPPENDEL

General Classification
1 Claudia HAUSLER
2 Alena AMIALIUSIK +1:02
3 Aude BIANNIC +3:35
4 Audrey CORDON +3:38
5 Maaike POLSPOEL +3:38
6 Giorgia BRONZINI +4:15
7 Lizzie WILLIAMS +4:15
8 Sabrina STULTIENS +4:15
9 Malgorzta JASINSKA +4:15
10 Elena BERLATO +4:15

Past Winners

2014 - Claudia Lichtenberg
2013 - Linda Villumsen
2012 - Evelyn Stevens
2010 - Annemiek Van Vleuten
2009 - Kimberly Anderson
2008 - Luise Keller
2007 - Amber Neben
2006 - Linda Villumsen

The Route

Prologue Enghien Les Bains (3km)

Stage 1 Avon - Briare Le Canal (127.1km)

Stage 2 Villemandeur - Bourges (118km)

Stage 3 Nevers - Avallon (113.3km)

Stage 4 Autun - Louhans-Chateaurenaud (103km)

Stage 5 Vesoul - La Planche Des Belles Filles (87.4km)

Stage 6 Soulzmatt - Issenheim - Guebwiller (116.4km)

The Contenders


At 3 kilometres and flat it is one for the specialists and those riders with a track background have a good opportunity.

Amy Cure: You will be hard pushed to find a better pursuiter in the world. Australian IP Champion and medals the past three years at the World Championships in the IP.

Annette Edmondson: Another track specialist who can produce a very strong time trial over a short distance.

Jasmin Glaesser: 4 time World Championship medallist in the TP. On great form following the Pan Am Games.

Leah Kirchmann: Very strong against the clock especially over shorter distances. 3rd in the 6km time trial at BeNe Ladies Tour.

Elisa Longo Borghini: Very strong against the clock but the short distance doesn't suit her perfectly but will be motivated to take a few seconds on her rivals.

Tatiana Antoshina: 4 time trial wins in 2015

Other names to watch: Lauren Kitchen, Jaimie Nielsen, Lucy Garner, Jenelle Crooks, Giorgia Bronzini and Soline Lamboley.


Lucy Garner: Picked up a stage win at the Tour of Chongming Island as a first year professional but some injury issues have seen a quieter period since. Looks to be returning to her best with podiums at The Women's Tour and Bene Ladies Tour.

Giorgia Bronzini: When at her best is one of the best sprinters but has been lacking something this year and largely playing a support role. In 2013 won six stages in a row and will be looking to pick up a few more.

Amy Cure: Multiple track world champion is chasing her first win on the road since 2013. A very quick finisher and after a track camp expect her to come in with some good speed.

Annette Edmondson: Likely to support Bronzini but Edmondson herself is a strong sprinter. Won the Tour of Chongming Island in 2013.

Kimberley Wells: Wells is the Australian criterium champion and while she has limited racing in Europe she certainly has the speed to be competitive with the best. The Australian Development team is still working on their lead outs but expect them to get better the more they race.

Lauren Kitchen: Not a pure sprinter but has taken four wins in 2015 in smaller of slightly hillier races. Plenty of opportunities and with some undulating on the way Kitchen could have fresher legs than some of her rivals.

Roxane Fournier: A name that might fly a little under the radar but Fournier picked up the biggest win of her career on the final stage of the Tour of Chongming Island this year being the likes of Wild and Bronzini. Backed by a strong team and is normally at her best in French races.

Other names to watch: Jasmin Glaesser, Loren Rowney, Amy Pieters and Shannon Malseed.

General Classification

Claudia Lichtenberg

The defending champion has a good chance of making it two in a row despite the change of course. Took a solo win on the opening stage last year and never looked back as she claimed the overall. Lichtenberg climbs with the best in the world and has six top 10 finishes at the Giro Rosa to her name including the win in 2009. Hasn't seemed at her absolute best this year but still finished 12th at the Giro. The team will have a dual objective as they will also be hunting stage wins with Lucy Garner but with a team to control for the sprinters Lichtenberg should be able to stay safe in the peloton and not lose any time ahead of the final two stages.

Elisa Longo Borghini and Mayuko Hagiwara

Wiggle brings a strong team with riders to contend for both sprint wins and the overall. Elisa Longo Borghini has had one of the best seasons of her career with a strong classics season culminating in a win at Ronde van Vlaanderen. Longo Borghini then claimed her third top 10 finish in a row at the Giro Rosa. Expect her to bide her time for the penultimate stage and then attack on the final climb. One of the best climbers in the world and few if anyone in this field will be able to match her. In Mayuko Hagiwara the team has a second option for the overall. Took a stage at the Giro Rosa before taking another win at Tour de Bretagne Féminin. Still developing but with a summit finish and a smaller field than at some of the bigger races it will give the champion of Japan an opportunity to test herself.

Amber Neben

The former time trial world champion has signed with BePink for the rest of 2015 after some strong results in the United States. The lack of a long time trial and limited racing at a high level in recent years could hurt her chances. The one big bonus Neben has on her side is experience and that could be crucial here. A former podium finisher at the Giro Rosa and it will be interesting to see how she goes against the likes of Longo Borghini on the penultimate stage.

Ellen Skerritt and Jenelle Crooks

The young Aussie duo gets an opportunity that will be invaluable for their careers. Both are two of the best climbers domestically and come in with good form. Crooks was the best young rider at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen last month and that will give her confidence. This however will be another test for the 21 year old.

Skerritt was quieter results wise at Thüringen Rundfahrt but was on the attack and this race suits her much better. Can time trial well but he strength comes on the longer climbs and stage five to La Planche Des Belles Filles will be her chance to shine.

Carlee Taylor

Another Aussie and one that often rides in a support role but could produce a strong result. With limited kilometres against the clock and a summit finish is suits the Australian climber. If Taylor can head in to stage five having lost as little time as possible she is capable of riding herself in to a top 10 or even better finish.

Eugenia Bujak

Finished on the podium at Gracia Orlova, before a respectible 34th at the Giro and more recently 10th at Thüringen Rundfahrt. Goes well on undulating terrain and climbing with the likes of Longo Borghini and Lichtenberg might be a challenge but if she rides within herself finishing in the top 10 would be a significant result.

Leach Kirchmann

You might not immediately be a name you would consider for the overall in a race with a summit finish but discounting her would be a mistake. It will be a big test for the former Canadian Champion but could spring a surprise. Second this year at the Tour of California, fifth Joe Martin Stage Race and seventh Tour of the Gila.

Other names to watch: Anna Christian, Jesse Daams, Molly Weaver and Amalie Rivat.
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