• Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) comes to La Course hot off a fifth place GC finish in the Giro Rosa (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
La Course by The Tour de France kicks off with a new format on Thursday night when the women's peloton will race up the Col d'Izoard. This will be followed by a time trial for a select group of qualifying riders two nights later in Marseille.
Cycling Central

Cycling Central
18 Jul 2017 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 18 Jul 2017 - 8:36 PM

The Orica-Scott women have entered a strong and in form squad to the fourth edition of the event.

After yet again winning the Dutch national time trial championships and sealing third place overall at the Giro Rosa Annemiek van Vleuten will lead the team alongside two-time Australian road champion Amanda Spratt. Spratt also had a strong showing at the Giro where she finished fifth overall. 

SBS TV will broadcast La Course by Le Tour de France on Viceland on Thursday starting at 6.00pm AEST, and on SBS on Saturday from 9.00pm AEST. It will also be available in the ŠKODA Tour Tracker.

A ‘knock out’ style of racing has been adopted by the organisers for 2017 as the race takes place over two days of competition. The first day is a 67.5-kilometre road stage from Briancon up to the Col d’Izoard and an iconic summit finish.

The riders with the best times from stage one will then be invited to compete in a 22.5-kilometre individual time trial two days later to coincide with the final time trial of the men in the Tour de France.

Starting and finishing in the Orange Velodrome, which seats an audience of 67,000, in Marseille the chosen riders will roll out in accordance with their finishing times from the Izoard in what the organisers term an “unprecedented and spectacular format.”

It is a race that is designed to target the climbers who can also time trial. After van Vleuten’s two stage wins and mountains classification success in the Giro Rosa Orica-Scott will be hoping for more of the same in France.

“We are really looking forward to the race,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “It’s a new format and we are approaching it with a strong squad and an open mind. Thursday’s race will be short, but very tough and obviously, the aim will be to have as many riders as possible achieving good times and finishing high up in the standings to create the best chance of competing in Saturday’s event.”

“Both Annmiek and Spratty are both coming in on the back of a recovery period after strong performances at the Giro Rosa and they have a strong team around them to get them in good positions for the climb up the Izoard.

“They are both experienced riders and know where they will have to be to get a good result. We also have Rachel Neylan who has made a good return to competitive racing and New Zealander Georgia Williams, they are both solid climbers and will have the opportunity to give it their best shot.”

Australians Jenelle Crooks and Alexandra Manly complete the lineup and will no doubt provide the consistently strong support that they have produced throughout the season.

“The race will provide great exposure for the team,” continued Bates. “And the way that the race is designed, Thursday’s stage will allow for more opportunities and freedom within the squad providing we hit the climb in good positions and it gives everyone the chance to really go for it.”